Breaking News: Bloggers Eat Pizza and Twinkies!
One of the funniest stories I've read in a long time came in the form of a below-the-fold item in the Sunday New York Times. Ostensibly a hard news story about how stressful blogging can be, the article, entitled "In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop," will doubtless prove excellent fodder for SNL and Jon Stewart. Imagine the archetypal blogger in PJs slurping a latte, and then read the following quote from the story:
"A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment."
When I read that to my 5-year-old daughter, she started laughing. (I am not kidding.) Even in her somewhat limited experience she recognizes that there are more stressful jobs, say, like being a kindergarten student. Obsessing about click-throughs? Brother, you haven't felt real stress until you've done the ERBs or faced down your first spelling test.
Laborers? One can't help recalling the Monty Python sketch of the disappointed author facing the prodigal son who has rejected the brutal, unforgiving world of the arts for the easy-going life of coal mining. The father, suffering from severe writers' cramp, screams at his son: "I've had more gala luncheons than you've had hot dinners!"
In the great blogging tradition of biting the hand that feeds me (the Times, not blogging), I'll take another couple of jabs at the story: The supposed evidence of blogging stress, according to the article, is the less than stellar health of many folks laboring over a hot keyboard and the unfortunate early deaths of two bloggers who had heart attacks. Certainly, both sad losses to family and friends, but compared with other professions, hardly enough to support the high-anxiety conclusion.
Incidentally, under the heading of "People in Tech in San Francisco Take Themselves Way Too Seriously," throwing together a WordPress site and then sitting down to regurgitate other people's news, isn't news–and it sure ain't stressful (no matter how much silly VC money people throw at you).
The daily grind of blogging just isn't all it's hyped up to be. Let's see, Steve Jobs' company is suing some New Yorkers who dare to use an image of an apple (let's make fun of that), Larry can be really aggressive (and he's not such a great sailor either, item two), more VC money is pouring into another online video site no one has ever heard of (call friends to link to this item), and, oh look, Rachel Ray is zesting again on ABC. Think I'll jot down her recipe and then take a break and watch the Formula 1 race I Tivoed (not that I would ever do such a thing during the work day!). Then I'll see how many people I can offend online before hitting on that female blogger typing on her laptop across from me in Starbucks (and then, hey!, I can blog about that, too!).
Mundane, yes. As stressful as being an air traffic controller, uh, no.
Certainly, there are some useful blogs out there: references for those suffering from terrible diseases, for example, or guides for new parents (no, Urban Baby does not count among them–it actually only exists as fodder for other bloggers). But the vast majority of blogs are time sinks for reader and writer alike. There, I've said it.
So weep not for the Blogger's Anxiety at the Penalty Click or for the RSI of the Crackberry addict. Just thank your lucky stars you've chosen a different profession and aren't stressing yourself out reading blogs about people who write blogs about people who write trend stories about people who write blogs.
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