Equating the personal essay with clickbait is a little simplistic, IMO, Michael K. Spencer.
As a journalistic format, it has a lot to offer in terms of helping us humans understand one another better. But it is hijacked by greed with overwrought pathos, it becomes clickbait designed to tug at the purse strings of the commentariat, no doubt about that.
The problem as I see it is the absence of solid editorial standards among users but it’s unreasonable to expect hobbyists to co-opt them when all they care about is their bottom line.
As for your take on the gig economy, I share many of your concerns but haven’t been able to make sense of them yet, probably because of my own convoluted personal circumstances which are impossibly complex.
To be clear, I am not a Medium insider but my impression is that the platform is still defining its identity by trying a lot of different things at the same time. The hybrid journalism / blogging model on this scale sure is a daring bet, and if they can pull it off, more power to them.
Where that leaves users is another matter. Right now, all we can do is keep feeling our way forward in the dark. This is my not so subtle kick up the jacksie to you, Mike. No matter how disillusioned you might be, I’d advise you to keep writing for now.
Lastly, thank you so much for taking the time to write such thought-provoking comments.