Not Everyone Will Thank You for Your Opinions
The internet has gone meta and turned into a self-referential rabbit hole of doom.
We are now writing about writing about writing on the internet, churning out advice listicles on how to do it. The impostor syndrome endemic among the creative class has spawned a new ecosystem feeding on fear. Like a self-replicating digital matryoshka doll, every new listicle exists to soothe our harried brains.
We are scared to create because we are afraid of remaining invisible and ignored. We need to create because we are afraid of remaining invisible and ignored.
And yet, we cannot see the internet for the listicles, their canopy so dense the light of original thought hardly ever filters through.
As a result, our brains atrophy amid an ever-growing flora of vacuous vapidity designed to service the discontent and disgust economy.
The internet is nothing more than the digital space we inhabit, a home away from home for humanity, and yet we refuse to take ownership of it.
Because platforms host our blank pages, we strive to produce compelling content to placate our publishers. For many of us, pleasing corporate handlers is taking precedence over the creative freedom to imagine a better world.
When the meaning of life is a simple dollar value sometimes preceded by a minus sign, the onus is on monetizing everything, even if it doesn’t belong to us.
And so we rack our brains for ways to maximize our editorial efforts, even if that means serving echo chambers at the expense of the common good.
Blogs and social media haven’t made us any more accountable than we were before we started carrying the internet in our pocket.
They have made us duplicitous instead, cowardly and mean.
Instead of having the courage of our opinions, we create personas to hide behind, inhabiting multiple spaces at the same time. How can you trust anyone who performs life instead of living it, distorting every emotion for maximum profit?
Because they make bank.
It doesn’t matter that their methods may be pure marketing designed to hack the human heart; whatever it is they’re doing, it pays.
The internet, humanity’s portable home, is now a battlefield of greed.
Your words can change that.
With writing comes responsibility. Attention is a reward you can earn through the strength of your argument, intellectual courage, originality, and skill.
It doesn’t matter what you excel at creating as long as you excel at it. Maybe your niche is history, maybe your niche is self-pity; maybe your niche is advocacy, maybe your niche is money.
It doesn’t matter as long as it pays.
Or does it? If words are how we humans primarily communicate with one another, aren’t we duty-bound to put out content written with honesty and heart?
Then again, hatred is honest, and some people perform it with utmost sincerity but seldom under their own name.
Who are you and who would you like to be, as a writer?
A name? A light? Inspiration? A hero? An expert? A catalyst? A voice in a choir? A soloist? Do you view writing as service, as self-serving, or as both?
The answers above are for you to know, ponder, and likely revise over time. Only you can figure out for yourself where your passion for words and other parameters intersect.
If you have a vocation, you won’t even care because writing is like breathing to you, necessary hygiene on par with brushing your teeth. It is something you do because not doing it would be tantamount to dying inside, as I did for five years when depression stole my voice.
So why not throw your heart at the page and let it guide you? Write what makes it beat faster, what you care about, what worries you, what consumes you; when you do, connection happens.
Words are people connectors. When you’re clear about what matters most to you, let it steer your pen and inform your work; dare to experiment with the many ways of thinking out loud in print until you find one that works, then embrace playfulness and iterate.
The pleasure of writing is seldom written about, and yet it’s what powers creativity and brings our words to life.
It’s about loving what you do, reaching those who love it as much as you, and effecting change.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.