Writing a blog, unlike being a rock star, isn’t a self-esteem boosting career. Now before you all start feeling overwhelmed with pity and sending me notes about how much you like what I write, let me clarify what I mean. What I mean is that even if, and here comes a list of some majors if’s: you write like TS Eliot (I don’t), you have piles of readers, you have constant inspiration and you get a steady stream of fan mail; you’re still subjected to constant criticism.
The reason for this isn’t that blog readers are a group of online trolls who delight in the meaningless abuse of hapless authors, but more simply that everyone has their own tastes, or perhaps on a more basic level, their own needs. One reader comes seeking entertainment, one inspiration and another, information. I actually strive to provide some level of all of these, but I’m more likely to find the Holy Grail than a balance that pleases everyone.
The criticism doesn’t stop there either. Another thing I often hear is something along the lines of “shouldn’t you be producing something?” or in other words “shouldn’t you have a real job where you make something worth money?” My gut reaction to this is to try and list all the things I do accomplish, but the fact is there are those who are a good deal more productive than I am. I’m not a doctor providing lifesaving care for African villagers, nor am I busy blistering my hands building houses for the homeless.
That said, using ones productivity to measure one’s contribution to society ignores half of the equation. To be a real benefit to the world one has to give more than one takes. For example, if I make 10 apple pies a day, but eat 12 I can’t really make a claim to be doing my neighbors a lot of good, even if being inferior bakers they only make 5 apple pies a day. In the end our consumption counts just as much as our production.
Of course, most of us like to think that we simply spend the money we make and things work out at least balanced. Sadly, things are a bit more complicated. Thanks to complex economics and our ability to rain a fiery death upon those that oppose us, westerners are able to consume roughly five times the amount they produce. Even worse, the things we consume are often produced by slave labor which mercifully, at least for us, we aren’t forced to see. (For those interested in taking a peak behind the curtain, I’m posting an online quiz that allows you see where and how many slaves you have working for you. It’s the most fun you can have ripping apart your own life habits.)
Now I’m not going to sit here and lecture people about how they should start running barefoot since shoes are made by children in China: I prefer to keep my blog focused on the positive side of life which receives far too little attention. Even so I think a little self-awareness can go a long way, that and I wouldn’t want everyone thinking that blog authors are the only members of society in need of a little criticism.