A blogger’s lot is not a happy one. You make a mistake, everybody wants to do the fully cleated Flemish clog dance on your head, and sometimes that’s even your own frigging readers, should you be so fortunate to pick up a few of them. That’s the territory, get used to it and don’t whinge if you choose to go in there. The kitchen, heat etc.
It gets worse though. It pays very badly, which means you’ll never make a red cent out of it. You sink a lot of hours and effort in, which might be better utilised earning a more sumptuous living. It’s a balancing act and to be truthful is more of an endurance thing. You really do have to be committed to some cause and believe despite very little feedback from the real world outside of cyber space, that you might actually be doing some good out there.
As one of the band of brothers expressed it, you spend a lot of hours looking at a computer and perhaps a few too many with your back to those you love. I suppose I’m worse than most in that I’m an essayist, which is an expensive way to blog. Writing takes time, and if you care about the language, which I do, it does chew up a lot of it. You don’t want to be nearly on target, it has to be exactly right down the damn pickle barrel, and you’ll keep working on it until it is. Engaging to the mind and pleasing to the palate.
The bitter cherry on top is those sites who feel free to copy and paste an article in its entirety, minus the copyright bit, for their place and without even a link to the original author. As the drill sergeant said, they’re giving you one up the ass without even the common decency to do a reach around hand job.
It does have its pleasures though. The big one is the personal satisfaction that you’ve written a good article that people find a resonance with, but the other one is reading the thoughts of commenters on it. So often, they round out the piece and suggest avenues of thought or insights which you’ve perhaps not explored. I enjoy reading people’s viewpoints on an article but I do operate a policy of excluding trolls, deranged maniacs, propagandists and those strange people who are only there to start their own comment wars.
I don’t get hundreds of comments on a piece, but I do tend to get good meaty ones on the heavier ones. Given that environment and a one article a week schedule, people have the time, the space and the peace to digest an article before commenting on it in some considered fashion, and all without the juvenile troll wars or dealing with the personality defectives that plague the blogosphere. I like the results of that, since it occasionally enables me to harvest out of the commenters those I have a feeling are capable of producing a piece themselves. Some of the comments are well up into the foothills of an interesting article in its own right.
I’ve nagged them into writing articles and they’ve been gutsy enough to make that transition from safe commenter to putting themselves out there in the danger zone as an author in their own right and at the receiving end of their peer’s opinion. As a commissioning editor who pays them absolutely nothing, I rarely do anything more than minor edits to their work and indeed, they themselves are a lot harder on their own articles than I’d ever be. With a work ethic like that, they’re low maintenance writers who can always be relied on to produce an engaging and readable piece.
I get to put my feet up for a weekend off and enjoy reading a decent article.
Of course, there’s a downside to the commentary. You get the odd one through for moderation and you look at it hard. You should trash it immediately but you can’t help but consider the vileness of it, and believe me, some of them are bottom of the barrel toxic stuff.
I wrote an article about a bunch of Hollywood C listers caught on camera plotting with what they thought was a representative of Arab big oil. They were agreeing to produce an anti-fracking movie but more importantly, conspiring to conceal where the financing was coming from. I called the piece American Traitors because in my opinion, accepting money in secret from foreigners to harm the interests of your own country is treason.
Very quickly, I received a comment for moderation. Apart from using the word traitor, it seemed to have little or nothing to do with the original post. When people mount very personal attacks on poor little me, which are obviously meant to make me lose my cool, the cold cyborg in me kicks in, and I take a hard look at it. Ignore the invective; back off your emotions and have a slow and careful read of it, and see what you make of it.
Who’s The “Traitor”?
U’re just stupid, brainless puke urself, “point”-head. “Treason”?–that’s what the northern Yankees said about the brave southerners who declared independence of the Washington DC regime of 1861.
“Treason”?–TO WHAT?–u scummy puke. What was USA doing in Vietnam, anyway? What’s USA doing in Afgan or Iraq?–killing good patriots who are only defending their country. And who are the US soldiers fighting for?–TRAITORS–the people trying to set-up world gov.
And what were US troops doing in Europe during WWII?–fighting for Jews and communists, that’s what.
U point-head are just a stupid, brainless scum, probably a neo-con who supports Israel–U’RE THE TRAITOR, U SCUM.
All a bit bracing, isn’t it? Of course, it’s anonymous. At first glance, it’s the standard hate comment I’m used to getting, and it appears to be from some Aryan Nation inbred who’s probably the latest product of a generational tradition of good ole boys who were a tad too affectionate with their first cousins but like the old farmer’s market joke goes, hold back those five hogs a moment until I count them. It doesn’t ring true for a number of reasons. It’s as if someone is trying a bit too hard to be an obnoxious redneck doing their best to be ignorant, offensive and insulting.
Every sentence does start with a big letter and ends with one of those funny little dots. I’m impressed already. Getting past the suspiciously desperate texting abbreviations, there’s only one spelling mistake – “Afgan”. It nearly looks deliberate, like dropping the occasional definite or indefinite article. Also, the proper nouns which should be capitalised, have mostly been capitalised, which is quite good going for a supposedly retarded bigot.
All the elision mistakes you’d expect of your usual frothing ranter have been avoided. Once you get over the text speak, “U’re” is actually correctly elided; as is “what’s” and “that’s”. The habit of writing precise English is very difficult to disguise, no matter how hard you try. Their fist is betraying the persona they’re trying to project at me.
The big bloomer they’ve made is trying to pass themselves off as a Southerner to someone who’s lived south of the Mason-Dixon. I have a friend who told me once that she was nearly twelve years old before she realised damn and Yankee were actually two words. I’ve heard a few stronger adjectives put in front of Yankee, but never northern. That’s a real clanger. It’s not as if they exactly come in eastern, western or southern varieties, is it?
I like the all capitals finish – it’s the best they can do in place of being able to shout at me.
Intrigued, I take a while to look into exactly who is working so hard to offend me and found him under his real name, because I’m good at finding people. I discover they’re a southerner alright, but posting from southern California, Hollywood to be precise. It’s difficult to work out a motivation but maybe in some vague way, they think they’re coming to the rescue of those Hollywood traitors.
Perhaps kicking off an ugly racist argument underneath the piece will devalue it and the kudos for doing so might curry favour for whatever dog-eared script they’ve been toting around in their back pocket for years without any success. Everyone in Hollywood has a script, even the guy who hauls your trash away to the dump. And yes, it turns out they’ve got their own pet script. Lots of mindless formulaic violence and not much in the way of human feeling. Talentless.
They, like their script and their comment, are all a bit pathetic and incompetent, so I leave the comment mouldering in the awaiting moderation queue and forget about it and them. They’ve wasted my time, so they can waste theirs checking back in to see if it’s finally cleared moderation, which it will never do. Hell will freeze over first.
The next I heard of the prat was a comment a few days later on something I wrote the previous week; a tribute piece to honour the ordinary soldiers who came ashore on D-day. It was off my usual global warming topic, but the coward hiding behind a keyboard had another even more vitriolic crack at getting my attention, not only with a death threat or two, but more grievously by disrespecting the sacrifice of those brave young men.
U typically brainless, ignorant, Jewwy filth who ought to be killed: there was no 4 thousand Americans killed on D-day, u stupid moron–it was about 1500. The worst, most horrible day for American dead was battle of Antietam during American “Civil” war–which was actually just a failed war of liberation for the South, war of imperial conquest for the north.
And the red Jew-Bolshevik army wasn’t on another “flank,” u scummy, dumb puke–it was an entirely diff. front, idiot. DEATH to u, u Jew-loving pig.
That was a mistake.
You did finally get on target about my sensibilities and managed to offend me, because while you have a right to bash away at me, and I’ll overlook the death threats because I know a keyboard coward when I hear one yapping, you’re on sacred ground when you come anywhere near the memory of those good people. After previously making a public example of someone wanting to play comment games here, I did give fair warning in a piece a few years back and have been left alone since. Time for a refresher lesson.
By a very circuitous route, the word has got back to me that someone out there actually went to the time and trouble of emailing a selection of Hollywood producers and agents with even a slightly Jewish sounding surname, and there’s quite a large number of them, the pitch for your script and thoughtfully added your opinion of brainless, ignorant, Jewwy filth like me, who should be killed.
Incidentally, I’m not Jewish, but what the hell, nobody’s perfect, as Joe E. Brown observed.
So, Phillip, whatever slim aspirations you might ever have entertained of Tinseltown, have I suspect just been killed stone dead. As we say down South, how do you like them apples?
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