11.10.17

Behind The Screen: The Emotional Labour of Blogging

Photo Credit: Serena Reidy

If you’ve ever met me in real life, I hope that you’ve seen the version of me that’s always laughing. Apparently that me, is the one everyone loves to see in photographs (yah, I’m looking at you adidas runners lol). But if you really know me, or at least have met me on a number of occasions, chances are that there will be a time where I’m not my usual laughing self. I remember back in my office job, my manager told me that being “emotional” was something that was frowned upon in management. But as far as I was concerned, I was just being authentic. I literally cannot hide how I’m feeling; it’ll always be written all over my face and quite frankly I refuse to have to pretend to be any other way than how I’m really feeling.

In my last lecture (I’ve just started my Masters in Management with Business Innovation) we were talking about managing customers and the way marketing has changed so the focus is now very much on the customer. The last area we touched on was one of “emotional labour”. The example of Pret employees came up again and again and that’s mainly because it’s been well documented in the past the expectations they have / had on their employees to demonstrate certain behaviours. I mean, who’s ever gone into Pret and had a bad customer service experience?!

This conversation made me realise that there is more substance to my thoughts than I probably realised when I always say “it’s exhausting being happy”. I spent more than three years not so long ago in a retail role where I had to make a choice to be happy every time I stepped onto the shop floor and when presented with an array of human beings throughout my shift, that happiness and energy needed to be unwavering.

Photo Credit: Serena Reidy

When blogging first came about, it seems it really was an open forum for people to honestly and openly share their opinions. Then social media came about and Instagram especially seems to be the platform that breeds inauthenticity and causes a heap of issues. To be honest, there have been times when I've scrolled through Instagram reading everyones "confessions" about what they have overcome to get to where they are today and it's made me feel insecure that I don't perceive myself to have had any major issues in my life to share. Yes, you read that. Does that make me less relatable? ...Do you watch X Factor? ...I feel like when they pick people to take through to the show they must sit in a board room with the contestant and be like "C'mon, there must have been something really bad that happened to you in your life?!"... everyone just seems to have an emotional backstory that pulls on your heartstrings, right?! And listening to The Mental Health Podcast which launched on World Mental Health Day, where Bethan and Laureen are talking about mental health issues being common rather than normal. With times changing, and with people like Bethan and Laureen being so open about their own struggles it's meant that many others feel comfortable to share their own experiences too hence why it seems that more and more people have been touched in some way by a mental health illness (1 in 4 is the stat). Anyway, go check out their podcast...

The point I was getting at is that, with the change in society, with the way that social media is, I feel that maybe blogging has become an emotionally laborious task. "Emotional labor refers to the process by which workers are expected to manage their feelings in accordance with organizationally defined rules and guidelines." (The Sociology of Emotional Labor, Amy S. Wharton). Although I think these rules and guidelines are somewhat unwritten in blogging, I do still think they are there and the more that blogging is professionalised the more these will play a part in who we are to the world. Especially with the increase of live broadcasting on platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Stories etc. The result of all this emotional labour?! ...Burnout. And if it's not happened to you, we all know a Blogger who has gotten to the point where they consider (or do) packing it all in...

Photo Credit: Serena Reidy

Someone once told me that "inside your head is a scary place; you shouldn't go there alone" ...and that is advice that I have openly and actively passed on to others when the time has been right. So this post is me doing just that... a few random thoughts in my head seemed to come together and it makes me wonder if other people see things in a similar way or if anyone has their own experience of what I am rambling on about.

Who knows, maybe I'll end up doing my dissertation on a similar topic... but either way, it's one that got me thinking and I hope it's done the same for you...


Elle :) 

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5 comments:

  1. Interesting post! I'm no good at hiding my emotions either, but I think that's a good thing.

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    1. I'd agree... the result of hiding emotions is also pretty bad (according to research lol) so I'm with you #TeamEmotions ;)

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  2. Very interesting and I agree. It's almost that blogging about life and family and its highs and lows have become big business. So how a mum blogger- for example - portrays themselves and their emotions becomes part of a marketing package. The lines are now very blurred!

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  3. I'm also a very emotional person and I find it hard to hide my feelings!

    I think I get the points you're making here, and I do feel like the blogging game has changed a lot. I found an old post on my blog (2010) that was just about how much I love biscuits. That was all. These days I wouldn't post it as it doesn't feel deep or important enough... I think there's definitely more pressure to bare your soul now.

    Liz x
    Distract Me Now Please

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  4. Such an interesting place and I couldn't agree more. I feel like blogging encourages ridiculous characters. We need to be insanely happy and giggling and laughing in our photos and upbeat and positive in our writing. God forbid we say anything negative and receiece horrendous backlash. But, like you, ive noticed we all need to be hiding some deep dark past or secret or trauma to then make us "relatable". It's this constant even if you've been low you can achieve this high. I don't subscribe to that and never have. My emotions are erratic and like you I can't hide it all that well. I don't fit in the mould of the perfect blogging emotional pattern and it's way too exhausting to try.

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