"Yeah, $1500. And then I have to spend the night."
Part of a conversation with an escort friend of mine. He gets paid $1500 to spend the night with old men (I don't mean that as a slight; most of the men are extremely aged) and sometimes have sex with them. Sometimes, like the time we were talking about today, he only has to lay there and have his ass eaten.
After we spoke, the idea of writing about a sex worker lazily flopped around in my head. How unique or relevant a thing could I make that? Writing about someone who trades sex for money in a down economy! No. I bore myself every day.
The other thing I do every day is repeatedly say the words "What the fuck are you doing" to myself. I think if you're someone who, daily, says to himself "What the fuck are you doing," you're probably doing the wrong thing in life. So as the thought of writing a ridiculous trend piece about gay hookers and the mantra "what the fuck are you doing" both came to me at about the same time, I thought about trying to write about something else.
I thought about writing about writing on the internet. Is any of the writing on the internet good? No. Do people buy books? Should I try to write something not for the internet? Do people read books? The Help is a popular movie. Is having your book turned into a movie better than having your blog turned into a book?
Being a blogger or an internet personality who "writes" doesn't make you a writer, of course, if I can be a snob for a moment. Most writing online isn't writing but rather a string of terse sentence fragments loosely connected by LOLs and OMGs! and "What Do U Think!?" And that last one, the one soliciting reaction in the form of "comments," is the real downer. Today, we write less because we have a cogent point to make or an entertaining narrative to share, but rather, we write because we want to really get some commenters fired up!
Page views, favorites, retweets, likes, comments, shares, and reblogs are where it is at, you guys. The goal in blogging, or at least a new mark of successful blogging or being a successful blogger, isn't to be "good." The goal is to have whatever you wrote be so hated or so outrageous or so controversial (when, in fact, it's not controversial at all) that it--or better yet, you!--becomes a comical meme of sorts. Whatever idea or story you published is more valuable to the internet if people can really really hate it or really really make fun of it. Take the truly dreadful piece from Paul Aguirre-Livingston, "Dawn Of A New Gay." Livingston's attempt to proudly define an entire generation of gay men as apathetic hipsters pissed literally everyone on the internet off. It also brought in the most comments the site that published it had ever received on a single article. Was this horrifying piece of writing intentionally horrifying in an effort to attract all the h8ers? Probably not. But being horrifying is all the rage. We have proof.
Again, this notion of hating the internet and the "death" of writing is entirely pretentious and, let's be honest, my own blogging and my own comment wars have contributed to the demise in a small way, probably. But I miss quiet consideration. I miss thinking about something without the use of an emoticon. I miss reading something and not engaging in a fight with a stranger over it before I've even had time to process what it is I just read. And we are all to blame: the writers who do the bad writing and the readers who do the bad reading.
I think about what it would be like if the internet just turned off all its comments. No debate, no praise, no hate, nothing. It would kill the people who live off of the attention they receive online. It would infuriate the people who are infuriated by the things they read online. I guess it wouldn't be the internet anymore.
What are some things that people could write about that wouldn't result in comment wars or "controversy"? What are some topics that aren't stale trend pieces written about everywhere that would make for a unique reading experience? Considering how short and how precious life is, what is the most effective, valuable way to spend one's time while surfing the net? What do you think?