I hope you are prepared to read. I offer no pretty pictures or frill, no shark eating grouper or fail compilations, just words. I know the drill with online articles these days is to leave you hanging and put a thousand words between you and the punchline of the story. Forgetting to make the title clickbait worthy is also a mistake on my part. Who said the rules should be followed anyway?
They used to say, “print is dead” back in the days when blogging was the thing that cool kids do. Looking back on those years, it was. Magazines and books were caught up in a choke-hold underneath the hairy armpit of the all-powerful blogger. For a time, it was cheap (free) advertising and companies basked in the light of offering a lighted keychain to a fellow willing to write about their company. Many, clamoring at a glimmering hope of recognition, jumped on the opportunity. If they didn’t, someone else would. Boy did they learn from us.
In the earlier days when I was reading more than writing, it was about the story. The old it’s-not-the-destination-it’s-the-journey tagline was rampant and serves a dual purpose in this circumstance. The love of fishing brought us to read stories from others about our internal thoughts. We related to one another. We commiserated in our failures. We cheered our fellow man. And the plot thickens…
Times have changed my friends. Each of us, whether in the industry or not, is now free advertising space for those who choose to use it. Fly fishing companies KNOW it happens and can’t say no to it. Which, in turn, forces us to accept almost any offer. The state of the internet knows how to drive sales in the market and has entered “visibility” as pay to play. “The Big Boys” dump money into and focus on relevance (now figured in total postings rather than engagement, visitation and quality) to get that coveted top listing. All fueled by links and clicks over content. Pair this up with the free advertising companies get from posts in the insta that are absolutely dripping in hashtags, and you get a magical outcome. If you’ve got money, even if you don’t know sh#t and your content is sh#t or regurgitated sh#t, you are on top. See what I did there?
I caught wind of this situation some years ago, but didn’t really say anything about it. Totally turned me off of the blogging scene and there was no sense in fighting against it. It was the journey, after all. Writing purely for the enjoyment of another reader seems to be lost in the black and white, or orange and black, depending on your blog settings. They’ve gone back to print and paper. The wordy and unruly renegades of the blog, famished and tired, lay quietly in the dark. Bottom-listed, unshared and unloved (and more than likely working on a book or a publishing deal).
[Insert cat meme here…]
Really, all of this rambling brings me to the point (after only 500 words). The story is lost among all of the internet trash, the top listed filth spewing from articles disguised as helpful with the only goal of selling you a product. Even if the article is profoundly misleading or from a poorly educated source. They have no fear of the publish button on the top right hand side of the screen. Just efficient, content producing machines. They have become popular opinion and their fuel is, “this works, it drives traffic, let’s continue even when it gets annoying”. Here lies the rest of us, telling stories beneath the freight train of advertising. After all, from the heart is not as valuable as from the wallet.