Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The "mamasphere is a series of interactions between human and non-human actors"

Anne Helen Petersen's latest newsletter features an interview with Kathryn Jezer-Morton, who is writing a doctoral dissertation on mombloggers:

I’ve learned that a lot of moms are increasingly planning their content around what the algo rewards. It brings to mind actor-network theory -- the idea that the mamasphere is a series of interactions between human and non-human actors. Time to read more Donna Haraway! The algorithm is absolutely an actor here. Momfluencers have to try to decipher its preferences and react accordingly. Which is part of why sometimes everyone in the mamasphere appears to be doing exactly the same thing, like a bunch of tall-boot-wearing synchronized swimmers. Like using letterboards, for example. They are doing something that they have found to be effective for the success of their accounts, but probably won’t be effective for long.


My favorite tropes, oh boy. I am fascinated by momfluencers’ home interiors, the constant upgrading and renovating and reorganizing of nurseries and bedrooms and the requisite “reveals.” A few years ago Amber Fillerup Clark revealed her new laundry room and it contained TWO washing machines side by side and my soul temporarily left my body. Taza of Love Taza has a row of fridges with, if I am not mistaken, glass doors like a bodega beer fridge. I am riveted by this. Interiors were really not part of mommyblogs, but of course they are Instagram content mines. There does seem to be an interiors arms race, which mirrors the general pressure within capitalism to continuously “level up,” and when we bring that pressure into the home, it’s worth paying attention to what happens next. Also, kids grow up and sometimes don’t want to be photographed anymore, but interiors are always fair game. I think as momfluencers work to diversify their content in preparation for their children growing up — which is happening more and more, as the first big wave of momfluencers’ kids reach adolescence — we might see more emphasis on home decor.