It has been hard to pin point why I struggle to write now a days, and here comes something that someone else writes that totally illustrates what killed my will to participate in online exchanges. I mean the obvious is the political vitriol that our country has turned into, but even beyond that I am tired of the entitled bullshit that writing online has become. Content is not created to inspire, entertain or god forbid inform. Content is created to create clicks. Whether you believe that an army of robots managed to mind control half of the country into believing that children are being taken to mars or not is not important, the important part is that human traffic is a real problem and instead of inspiring people to fight it and make it a priority we get crazy people to react to a bullshit story and go shoot up a place. It is not just about creating anger and division, it is that we are being farmed like cattle to click on nonsense.
“Influencer” which is not even a real word but something we get to blame marketing for is now a thing. People feed their families on other’s clicks and I don’t begrudge that at all. I have had the chance to monetize my content in many ways, and in some ways I do. I celebrate the practice and respect it, but it has to be an honest practice. It has to be out in the open and people need to understand that if you are creating paid content, you are not “helping anyone” you are being paid to advertise and use your network. It is in a way no different than a pyramid scheme. You use your network to sell a product. You are a part of the process.
I have been pretty scared to write what I really feel, because very easily an employer can now look at your content and decide that they do not want to be associated with a person that creates X or Y content, or X or Y feeling. And again I don’t dislike marketing, in fact I have always wanted to work closely with them and love doing so when I get a chance to. The thing that really bothers me is when it turns into something that smells funny. When you talk about how whatever box you are now selling can save the world! give me a break.
What really pushed me over the edge was an article that was so full of entitlement that I literally had to hold back vomiting my dinner when I read it. I don’t know Jason Fried, he could be the nicest guy in the world but he wrote something that is meant to just make people click. In fact, I am sure he is probably someone that gives to people and creates a great product. But to write on a subject that he obviously feels some guilt about and does not understand is why people get pissed off at cultural appropriation.
I wrote about this subject in 2005 and it still gets comments here and there. Obviously my writing is pretty shitty, but I wanted to explore the subject. So let me start dealing with my issue with what he wrote and why stuff like this has made it so I don’t want to write anymore.
If you’re reading this you probably don’t work hard
Start by basically using guilt to get people into your clickbait. While the title does probably sound true in some ways and the argument is a valid one, like I mentioned before it is one that I have discussed before plenty with people, it makes me a little angry (and probably that was the desired reaction) when someone dismisses what I do by simply assuming that if I work in an air conditioned office, what I do provides no real value to anyone else. Interesting enough, I was researching something about software development at the time, I believe his stuff came back in the search engine because he is the CEO at basecamp. Again, I am not angry at the advertising or even the fact that I gave him a click and a read because of the title. The article is tagged with product development which is the area that I was researching at the time.
Farm workers picking lettuce in a field under the title “actual hard work.”
H and I talk about hard work all the time. In fact is a favorite subject of ours because we want to make sure that our daughter some day understand the value of hard work of all forms. Detassiling corn is no joke, and my wife has done that before, but I would argue that her work as an oncology nurse is more mentally taxing and at times very physical in many ways. Nurses every day have to deal with the possibility that a needle might poke them with something infectious, or the fact that they can bring a very dangerous virus home. I know I earned a new immunity badge after we started dating only rivaled by when tiny tyrant started going to daycare. And again, I am not mad at the fact that the picture of hard work is a farm worker. I agree with that statement, I agree with the sentiment. I also think that migrant workers are the biggest beacon of injustice in this country. They are abused so we can each cheap food and at the end of the day they end up being lumped with the “bad hombres” and the “brown” side of town in a dismissive way. So to me, taking that image and using it to highlight something else is a little offensive. My most successful pieces of writing is not live anymore (you can still wayback machine some of it, but it got 100s of comments and multiple times more reads, it was pretty nasty at times to get notifications from the site back then.) Again, I am not saying I have visited this topic better, or I am right. I just want to show that I have been talking about it for quite some time and it is somewhat near and dear to my heart.
Here is when things were wrong for me.
Designers, programmers, tech entrepreneurs, and investors love talking about how hard their work is.
Let’s get real.
Hard work is picking lettuce 8 hours a day in 90 degree heat.
I have worked with some of the hardest working designers, programmers, tech entrepreneurs and investors. Their work IS hard. In fact, I could never outwork some of them. Some of them work 20 hours a day for weeks (some even years) at a time. And while I do see a big different, at the end of the day for most of them it is a choice provided by some education and privilege, it does not make what they do “not hard work.” At this time I was a little offended. Not just for myself, but for the teams that I had just seen put 80 hours plus to get a release out the door. Or the network team that worked 30 hours straight to get a system back up. Or the road warrior that does not even have a bed to go back to anymore. Again, you can argue that those are their choices and they could do something else, but they work hard to do what they do. For those people picking lettuce though, they have little choice. It is either that or starve.
To me, the whole article is garbage and what is more troubling is that the sense of entitlement to that position is so transparent.
Rule of thumb: If it’s hard you’ll have trouble finding people who want to do it. There’s no shortage of people who want to be programmers, designers, strategists, social media consultants, entrepreneurs, investors, etc… But try finding people to work the farm. Hard work is doing the work other people don’t want to do.
Good talent is hard to find, but to compare it with manual labor is so entitled and stupid that only an out of touch tech CEO could have written it. Not only does it dismiss the current struggle of illegal immigrants in this country that come here because they know they are the only ones willing to do the “hard work.” It also calls anyone that decided to go into mental labor jobs “a dime a dozen.” I won’t even go into the rest of the things that really pissed me off, but the fact that he said that “If you enjoy it most of the time, it’s probably not hard.” is somewhat insulting.
Funny part is that I know many people that work tech jobs that on the weekend build things with their hands. Hard, back breaking work in farms or wood shops. I personally love washing my car and detailing it even when it is hard. If I could earn what I do on tech doing that I would probably do it. For some reason Mr Fried has a bone to pick with the people that are around him, but his point of view is not just wrong, it is entitled.
Which circles back to the reasons I seldom write anymore. The people that get to be heard are those that create garbage like this, one sided crap that put something or someone else down. And while the irony of this post is not lost on me I am not putting him, or other “influencers” down. They are doing something, they are making me feel something (at least the good ones.) So in a weird way thanks! Mr Fried! you inspired me to write again. And hopefully I can figure out a way that I can start using this platform as a way to highlight real problems, and maybe some day provide some solutions.
That is the goal, I used to want to make people think… I now want to be known as someone that can also provide solutions. The solution to this one, is create content that does not put someone down, or it is simply there to create a click! entertain, inform, move the conversation forward!
Stay thirsty my friends. (Yes, I am totally stealing this from the Dos XX guy.)