New Criticals

As we are all prosumers in the digital age, I also view the blog lurker’s participatory construction of this online femininity as labour, despite our reluctance to see it as such. However, I also credit most blog readers with a healthy sense of ambivalence that has come about from the past decade of social media literacy that allows us to reliably infer that the perfectly cultivated newsfeed we see may be real, but it is not in and of itself reality. I think this healthy skepticism of the life told through images and social media is reflected in the accompanying rise of hate bloggers, irreverent parenting confessions, and humorous Pinterest fails. And then the notion that as soon as these online conventions solidify into something approximating a genre, they too may be debunked, in the never-ending act of unpeeling digital layers of simulation.

It is this moment when the pleasurable becomes uncanny that is fascinating, an experience typically discovered when the social media that compulsively attract us unexpectedly repel us with a negative affective response. While one of the great political strengths of food blogs is their construction of a gift economy, sometimes these gifts feel like they are of the ‘I got you a gym membership for your birthday, honey’ variety. This perpetual ambivalence captures the precarity of feminine labour in the digital age: recuperating the traditional role of homemaker, bloggers diligently and creatively nourish a starved audience, making a home among the digital ruins of intimacy and authenticity.