Thoughts from series writer/creator James Rodehaver
Authenticity is a rare flower in the creative field. The problem, as it has always been and ever shall be, is money. At one point the internet was invented, and suddenly everyone had access to a platform for their art. You wanted an audience, just log on and tippity type your little heart out. This was generally okay, and good. Then, some man in a dark suit printed out spreadsheets. Many many spreadsheets. He got together with other men in dark suits, and they poured through their data. Did you know that if you post your content on Tuesday morning at 10am when there is 40% cloud cover and the reader has heard a bird chirping within the last hour that there is a .06% greater chance they will interact with your post? The men in the dark suits know.
The men in the suits built machines, the aggregators. “Come to us, hopeful writers, and we shall pay thee,” they crooned. Many and more were lured by their sweet words, and the great aggregators began to churn. Soon, the writers sensed that something was wrong. They were only allowed to post on Tuesday mornings (etc.), and they were forced to write about nip-slips and the "10 Weird Things Found In Justin Beiber’s Trash Can."
“Why can’t we write about real things?” some cried. “Why would anyone go through Justin Bieber’s trash?” clamored others, but it was too late; the men in the suits had what they wanted.
“If you don’t like it you can go,” They said, and it was true, for there were thousands behind the writers just waiting to take their places. In fact, writers became so abundant, that it no longer became necessary to pay them. There was always some poor soul desperate to be published, willing to feed the great aggregators their content for coveted yet ultimately valueless ‘exposure’.
The act of writing became so meaningless that often times ‘content creators’ didn’t bother to create content. They would find other writers to do the work for them, and repost that writing as a way to get clicks. Because, no longer was gaining readership valuable, it was all about gaining clicks. Clicks are money, words are not.
Outrage generated clicks; and thus controversy was made of all things so that people could be mad about a thing, or be mad that other people were mad about a thing. Sex, as always, generated clicks; so articles about genitalia and links next to pictures of large breasted coeds abounded. “Tell us what you think in the comments!” Became the final line of every article, not because the writer cared what you thought but because every comment pushed the content a little further into the world and gave the writer a little more job security.
Can we blame them? What else were the writers to do? To make money from their craft they had to follow the great aggregator’s commands, and yet it was all bullshit. Play the game, or be drowned out in the sea of clamoring voices. That is the choice, and such a sad choice it is.
I hate the game. I hate the men in the dark suits. I hate the terrible machines that churn and vomit great piles of nothing into the world. And yet, to reject their rules is to be unseen. It is through this tiny crack that the doubt slinks and slithers. Does my work remain unseen because I have chosen to reject the man in the dark suit? Or was he right all along? Am I simply wrong about all those things I despise? Is my crusade to stand against the drivel nothing more than Don Quixote tilting at windmills?
Tell me what you think in the comments below.