Are Blogs the New Pamphlet ?

Orwell Pamphlet

“Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.” – Mark Twain

Since we live in a day and age where blogs are a booming avenue for aspiring artists of all kinds, a nagging thought has been bothering me. It’s a struggle that’s been sitting in the back burner of my mind for aeons.

Is blogging relinquishing the rights to your own material for the sake of gaining exposure ? Or is it a way to get noticed ?Blogger

It’s got to be a little bit of both. People sacrifice your rights for exposure. There are so many different publications out there that are accepting submissions from freelancers. Most of them are digital. In the olden days, people like Emile Zola, Balzac, and George Orwell would write political and literary pieces for publication and the recognition that would inevitably come with it.J'Accuse - Zola

Anyone with an internet connection can create content and post it online. There’s a difference between knowing how to blog well and knowing how to write stuff and click “publish”. Just because a hopeful blogger has hits, doesn’t mean they’ll turn into a blossoming book publisher. I used to think blogs were just channels for artistic noise, but now I see that without them, countless writers and photographers would go unnoticed. Photojournalism has gotten a huge boost from blogs; it’s an awesome phenomenon. Some of my favorites are Rania Khalek (social justice), Cristian Mihai (writing), and Ma Cuisine et Vous (French food porn).

Writers have the option of forgoing the harrowing publishing process and simply self-publishing via Amazon. Thought Catalog recently started putting out e-books. At $1.99 a pop, it’s no surprise that portable pdf files are a huge revenue booster for high-visibility blogs. They also give freelancers a chance to add a couple lines to their CV. It’s like in the HBO TV show ‘Girls’, when Hannah goes “You guys, I just wrote my first e-book !” (Sidenote : I don’t actually watch that show, I just turned it on when that line was being broadcast.)

Mark Twain’s quote rings true with all the artists hopping in to the blogosphere from every corner of this lonely planet. Before blogs, people wrote for pamphlets. All we can do is roll with the punches and learn how to navigate this complicated, virtual sphere.

What are your thoughts on blogging ? Is it a useful democratic tool, or a sneaky way to steal others’ content ?


Down with Food Porn


My greatest internet weakness is food blogs. See, boredom used to propel me to go on my WordPress reader and RSS feed to check out the latest dishes random people had made in their kitchens, and then proceeded to devour. This was me trying to be rational, trying to counter my consumer impulse to buy by eating with my eyes.

Is it possible to be addicted to food porn ? Yes, yes it is. At my last job, I would send my boss links of food porn weekly until he said I had an obsession. He wasn’t half-wrong; I would look at pictures of dishes and discover new recipes until lunchtime. Don’t worry, I still got my work done. Instead of schmoozing on Facebook, though, I would look at creative concoctions and send them to people, hoping they got the hint and that some fresh pumpkin tiramisu would be waiting for me when I came over at the end of the week.

So eventually, I realized that my boss had a point. This was an odd hang-up. It would be a better use of my time to find things that contribute to my well-being instead of leaving me disappointed with the lack of gourmet goodies in front of me. The technological addiction had a deeper root, as well.

Victor Frankl says that we are driven by our most basic desires when our lives are lacking meaning and purpose. I pondered my situation and realized that outside of my 9-5 existence, I was not helping anyone or working towards a larger goal. I vowed to dedicate my time spent staring at aioli casserole and cayenne chorizo to making some kind of difference in my community. I was arrested in development, too focused on my own little bubble and not enough on the world around me. Once I got home, I enrolled in a volunteer program and started tutoring people. Ever since, I’ve been enjoying my food more and salivating in front of screens less. That, in my book, is progress.