Sunday, March 27, 2016

The season for departures

Wakare no kisetsu

Here in Japan the school year begins and ends in spring, as does many other things. Tax season is in spring, and so is moving season. Last week, I ate out three times (lunch at work not included). Once as a lunch party, once as a dinner for a guest at work, and once as a farewell party for someone I've worked with almost all of my adult life. Time to move on and greener pastures and all that. I wish him well and hope he will visit soon and often.

I was hoping to run off the excess calories, but that didn't work as well as I'd hoped. I ran on Friday and today, 6 km each. I ran 8 km the Sunday before, and my body hated me until around Wednesday, and it rained Thursday morning. Yes, I know, excuses. This is why I don't think I'll ever run a full marathon.

I've developed a morbid fascination for high-traffic fashion blogs. It used to be that I had a (comparatively) healthy interest in them. They let me see pretty clothes for free (as opposed to shilling several hundred yen for a fashion mag) and if I looked long enough, I could find someone built someone like myself and get ideas on what would be most flattering on my middle aged body. Then, I realized that blogs seemed to have a life cycle. They'd start out as a creative outlet of sorts, run by people who had real jobs and real budgets and real lives and genuine passion. Then, people start to see how cool they are and follow them. Once they get a large number of followers, fashion brands and chain stores start to reach out to them and send them their products to review or include in their blogs, sometimes for a price. The bloggers, of course, are flattered by the attention and the (usually) cool free stuff, so they will include them in blog posts. Their original style and relatability (is that even a word?) deteriorates. Sometimes the ad revenue becomes sufficient enough for them to leave their real jobs and blog full time. When this happens, they will blog for profit. They will write about the products they are paid to wear and endorse, and they will post fewer DIY alterations and crafts (because sewing supply stores have limited advertising budgets.). The blog will more or less begin to fold into itself.

Meanwhile, the blog fans start to wonder if they can run a "successful" blog for themselves. "Successful" means lots of followers (and hence, potential ad revenue). So they try to get the attention of potential readers by posting comments in high-traffic blogs of  a similar genre. Thing is, you can't always say something interesting about a series of photos of the blogger wearing the same dress striking similar poses in front of the same building, so the comment will go something like "Love the dress! (blog link of commenter)." As will the 30 other replies to the post. Which is kind of silly and also kind of pathetic, but relatively harmless.

There are more disturbing stories. The most disturbing is the idea of credit card debt for blogging. Blog content for fashion blogs means new clothes and accessories. There are only so many photos you can take of the same pair of skinny distressed jeans. New items are a must. So some less cerebral would-be bloggers see their fashion purchases as a professional investment, when in fact they are about as reliable as investments as sending your much-too-talkative six year-old to intense tennis lessons in the hope that he'll become a world-class tennis player. The net (pun intended) result would be the same: lots of debt, and not much else.

(Though the six year-old might learn focus and discipline and become the tennis team captain of a shit xxx school team in university and play in a shit xxx school league as he earns his technical degree and graduate and be his boss's tennis partner and kick some xxx @$$, which might help his career. This is unlike rowing, which very few people do after graduating university. But I digress. I should probably add that since this is Japan, the six-year-old's chances of getting a full athletic scholarship into a decent school to play tennis and study something worthwhile are much slimmer than in the US).

Another disturbing (but less harmful) story is the blogging community and the social scene. They put on the guise of being friends, but have a tangled web of failed friendships and romantic relationships. The saddest pattern is when a would-be male model is hanging on a big-name blogger for financial reasons and the potential to associate with fashion brands.

Anyway. My fascination with high-traffic blogs has become a bit twisted. I don't see anything like this happening to me anytime soon, unless the makers of Tiny Vader want to sponsor me and send me a Tiny New Order Storm Trooper when it comes out.

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