When You’re Not Sure Whether To Laugh Or Cry

I almost didn’t believe it when I saw a friend of mine post a series of tweets by columnist James Bloodworth.  He recently wrote a book about how so much writing these days is unpaid work.  He then wrote about how the Huffington Post asked him to do work for them.  And they wanted him to do it unpaid.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.

Huffington Post – Ugh

Personally, I’ve never liked the Huffington Post all that much.  I read stuff on there from time to time, because they have built up such a big following that it’s inevitable that’s where a lot of content will appear.  But, it’s never been my go-to place.

I think a lot of that stems from my thoughts on the original founder, Ariana Huffington.  She’s one of those famous people that I just feel doesn’t deserve to be famous.  It’s kind of like how I know many people feel about the Kardashians!

Now, I know that she rose to fame long before I was aware, but once I was, and I looked back, she just didn’t seem to have a moment where I felt she deserved to have the spotlight.  She just sort of snuck in and took it.

So, while I know she sold the site that bears her name, a lot of the ideals, practices, and well, the simple distrust, still remain.

And, stuff like this doesn’t help.

Offering No Pay To Write About Unpaid Work

I mean, they don’t see the irony of seeking someone out to write an article about their book about not getting paid, and then make it clear that they aren’t going to pay him?  Yet, you best bet that they’re going to make a profit from it!

I don’t get it.

Actually, I do.  Because that’s the way of the world now.  The people that have the money are fine to make more, but everybody else gets scraps, or in the case of the Huffington Post, they offer EXPOSURE, and well, isn’t that just as good? (so they say).

Short answer: No.  Exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

How Did This Trend Start?

I think that this all started back in the Great Recession.  A few years ago.  Don’t you remember when people started losing their jobs and their houses and all that, and it somehow became a mainstream line to hear over and over again:

“Well, I’m just lucky I still have a job.”

Think about it.  How often did you say that or hear that or read it or see it come up in some form?  It was everywhere.  And, look what it’s done.  It lowered the bar.  Down to the ground.

People started saying that, and those that control the jobs heard it, and had their a-ha moment.  and they started conditioning people to really believe it. Does this sound familiar:

Boss: “Hey, team, we need to raise your health care contributions this year and by the way no raises this year.  It’s tough but we were glad to have you still with us”
Employee 1: “Wow, that sucks.”
Employee 2: “Yeah, but I’m just thankful I still have a job.”
Employee 1: *nods*

And, look, here we still are today.  Isn’t life grand?

Are we laughing or crying yet?  Maybe both?

9 thoughts on “When You’re Not Sure Whether To Laugh Or Cry”

  1. Terrible that people can even ask for that. My landlord doesn’t accept exposure when the rent’s due — even if it’s high-class exposure

  2. Last summer I quit a job (without notice) after being there exactly 1 year and 1 week. I had saved up over a year’s salary plus my husband works full-time. I had not been happy at that job after the first week but stuck it out for personal reasons. I recently started a new full-time job at a company that is much better, and I am making more money. I do not have a college degree, no “professional” career to speak of. I guess maybe it is my age, or personality, but I no longer feel the need to tolerate a bad situation just to say I have a job. There are so many opportunities to make money these days. It takes effort, persistence, flexibility to name just a few things.

    • There is no reason to stay in a bad job. I do think that it is a bit risky to quit without notice. Generally it’s a courtesy to offer at least 1-2 weeks notice. It seems you have no intention of ever returning, but I’ve also learned that it’s generally not a great idea to burn bridges, because you never know who you might cross paths with in the future.

  3. It is amazing how we will rationalize being treated unfairly. If you do work, you should be paid. It is a simple concept but it seems not everyone is able to grasp it.

  4. Totally agreed on this. Rich people get richer because power is in their hands, whereas poor people just go with the flow because when they go against the current situation, one possibility is they’ll lose their job, which is something they don’t like, so we just have to bear this and condition ourselves on some changes until we get accustomed with.

  5. Holy mackerel, have you got THAT right!

    Right now there’s a discussion trending on a Facebook group for self-publishing writers, in which one member posted on an incident in which (hang onto your hat) some nitwit bought her book on Amazon, read it, and then returned it, specifically so as to get the read for free. She found out about this when the woman sent her an e-mail saying how much she enjoyed reading her books, but that it was SUCH an inconvenience to have to return the books after she’d read them that she didn’t see why the author wouldn’t “publish” them for free, instead of at their usual 99-cent/$2.99 prices. The reader openly admitted to doing this all the time.

    When the author reported this to Amazon, the perp responded by filling her in-box with a barrage of flames.

    It turns out that in addition to outright piracy, the scam of buying a book and then returning it to Amazon after reading the whole thing in Kindle is widespread. I’ve had it happen with one of my bookoids, but didn’t recognize it for what it is until it came up in the FB exchange.

    Where journalism and marketing copy are concerned, it’s been commonplace for years for publishers and other businesses to try to hire writers for next to nothing or, in some cases, for nothing. There’s a reason: it’s because some people are so anxious to see their bylines in print that they WILL do it. Enough wannabe writers will write for cheap or nothing that they drive wages down for everyone. Way down. It’s one reason I don’t do freelance writing anymore.

    • That’s quite a loophole that Amazon leaves open. And while it’s too bad that people take advantage of it, that’s really a shame and probably hurts a lot of authors that don’t deserve to be punished for simply doing what they love to do.

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