1. Because I had to lie, to connive on this very title just to get your click.
Because I, in self righteous smugness, am not immune.
2. Because content is empty, addictive, toxic and strange.
Content, provided like slop feeds but doesn’t satisfy. Content, like slop, can be found anywhere. But writing will be read. Show it. Write it. And pay me for it.
3. Content is a word like calories, and like calories, content is meant to be devoured, digested without attention or love.
Content is a slur, a bland, inhumane word branded to words by those who’d seek to shackle them to commence. Writing is treated as an unfortunate inevitability in getting people to click on things and the rules are bent without regard for the reader.
But the problem is the spiral swirls towards the drain. Writing becomes sloppier, and new lows are found to exploit. Articles have moved to gifs and quizzes because they share, because they can happen, and fine, they should. But who profits? And how?
Think to what you’ve read, what content clicks you’ve hovered over, guided beyond your better instinct to read. How dirty do you feel to have clicked them? How embarrassed are you, dear reader, to have been ensnared, tricked again by something worthless, some content you read just because it was there?
That’s what content is; it is simply there. It is the white space that exists before thoughts and writing. It is the veneer, ever growing, that stretches out to the internet beyond.
And it is garbage.
4. David Foster Wallace is one of my favorite content producer.
How does that feel to read? To feel, to say? It should be gross, that gruel in your mouth to see that joy so deeply extracted from meaning.
Do you remember Orwell’s 1984? (Hint: it was OMG and WIN.) An often-forgotten but crucial part of the book is the role the totalitarian state uses in censorship: it simply reduces the words available to describe things, and how far away is DoublePlusGood from the simple, lazy title of “epic?” And what is “content” but a way to dehumanize writing as meaning or art? It’s simply…content.
Content, then, is defined simply as a space filled.
It is static, and we are all entranced.
5. If content is empty, then, it is about simply filling space.
That means anyone can do it, which is true, in a sense. Anyone can and should pursue writing, but the sinister edge of equivalency whispers something darker: when you insist that anyone can write, you imply that writing isn’t important, isn’t worth honing or your care.
“Anyone can write” says content. “Literally anyone! Put some cats in a word doc! We don’t giv e a fuck!”
If that’s true, then all writing is equal simply in virtue of clicks, as though retention, caring, and thought mean nothing to us, that they have no worth.
As a writer, that’s bad for my wallet. But as a thinker, as a talker, as someone devoted to ideas and the joy of words and letters clinking like keys it means something else. The pursuit of content means that art isn’t merely worthless- it’s antithetical to writing entirely.
If you write for clicks, than that is the meaning of your writing. Art would distract you, care would slow you, and love would hold you back.
6. How embarrassing is it that I have to hide this essay in a numbered format?
How embarrassing is it that you know I had to?
7. People are more likely to click on things they agree with, which brings up an arms race to editorialize.
Fox News was the first to find they could reach a niche by giving the opinions other people wanted to share and find shared with others, but the internet caught on quick.
Think, fast, to the titles you see. How do they pander to you? They promise you’ll drop your jaw, they number the eleven INSANE ways the [Opposite Political Party] is DUMB! Is BAD! Is Worse than YOU, who are SMART for having CLICKED THIS!
They will give the news with the twist of approval you want, and you’ll click that.
The internet provides an echo chamber for your own narcissism.
Because content needs you, wants you, and the truth can come second.
8. Because internet writing rewards extremism without purpose, promotes and enhances a drive further and farther onwards and upwards to madness, all to provoke those last precious drops of content.
Think about your hate-clicks. Think about your love clicks. They declare things absolutely, and definitively, and they make you FEEL things…you already felt. They provoke, sure, but to what end? And why?
Simple: to get you to click. Because once the title baits you, with an over-personal appeal to whisper, to reel you in, you’ve already clicked. And that’s all they need. All they want.
Because, guess what?
9. When you click content, you’re content to them.
This is not content. This is not viral, or profitable or full of Gifs. But even something as clumsily written and pathetically earnest as this gives a realness, an honesty that content, stripped of all edges, could ever hope to provide. Because here, I have written something with so little guile, so little polish that it went through no drafts, no planning, and no thumb-nail of EPIC CATS to loop you in.
This was something real, in all its imperfections, and I wrote it to be read.
Death to content.