Recently I’ve been reading a lot of arguments in blog comments about the proliferation of web content, and why it brings down the reputation of everyone who writes on the internet.
A lot of the vitriol is directed at so-called ‘content mills’, those sites to which almost anyone can contribute almost anything, sometimes receiving a small (very small) payment for their efforts. Those sites contain a great deal of information, some good, some not so much. The argument against these sites is that it makes writers lazy, they earn three bucks for 15 minutes’ worth of Googling and rewriting what they find, and people shouldn’t get paid so little for writing, anyway. It’s not enough to live on! As well, a lot of people seem to have an idea that because of the nature of web writing (short sentences, bullet points, just give them the basic information without getting lyrical), good writing on teh interwebs is in short supply.
To me, this whole argument is ridiculous and frustrating. The writing community has a huge snobbery contingent. This has probably been true since language was scratched on stones in ancient civilisations.
People, listen. Just because it’s short, to-the-point, and is easy to digest, does not mean that a writer can’t get a point across, and do it well. Hemingway was famously able to tell a whole story in just six words: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. No, we are not all Hemingway (which is probably just as well, the world couldn’t handle that many emos). Yes, there is a lot of drivel on the internet. That is why at school we’re taught to critically analyse texts. Yes, great, informative, to-the-point writing can be found on the internet.
I fully believe that as more writers take the plunge and get into the web writing biz, the overall quality of this very new medium will get better and better. Maybe the snobbery against those who write primarily for the web will die out as the team gets stronger and more visible.
I suspect that too often the good web writing gets overlooked by this elitist group, because they seek crap writing to validate their point, consciously or subconsciously. Seek, and you shall find, as it were. Maybe if their efforts were focused more on ignoring the rubbish (do not feed the troll!) and constructively applauding the good, they might find less need to complain about the quality of web writing. What do you think?