I’ve been weekend editor for Madamenoire for a little over a month now. As I’ve mentioned before, editing has it’s pros and cons when I compare it to my days of simply freelancing. For the most part it’s a tedious, time-consuming task that requires little creativity. Thankfully I still get to contribute some of my personal pieces but for the most part I’m reporting the same stories about who owes child support, who’s cheating and who’s having a baby that every other celebrity blog is reporting. As I stated before, when blogging becomes a business there’s no longer the freedom that comes with random ramblings that catch your particular interest like musing about how much my life has changed for the better since I discovered espresso. My Dunkin Donuts addiction isn’t going to get the site hits, however Oprah telling Lilo to get her shit together will. It’s the nature of the beast and honestly I’m loving every minute I’m learning about this whole business.
But I must admit there’s still one pet peeve that although I am guilty of myself, I still can’t find it in my heart to forgive my readers for: Commenting before reading the entire article. Like the world, the internet is a very angry place. It’s painful for me to digest the fact that even if I was writing about Care Bears and cotton candy, someone would complain that Care Bears were simply covers for mental illness and cotton candy is sticky, worthless shit meant for the downfall of mankind. There are so many days when I want to close my laptop and write the whole world a prescription for Zoloft.
Yesterday I wrote a piece entitled Are Black Women Aiming to Be Marilyn Monroe? in which I expressed my thoughts on our culture’s obsession with the iconic beauty and if women’s fascination with her was unhealthy. In the piece I don’t just target black women, I place blame where the impartial shoe fits on all women from Nicki Minaj to Miley Cyrus. But no sooner after the piece had been up for ten seconds was the comments section filled with all kinds of clever observations:
“It’s not just black women… But I don’t understand the obsession…. Maybe I need to do more research bc all I know her to be was a mistress… Nothing more.”
“I don’t think it should be narrowed down to black women because every race of women want to imitate her. The topic is pointless.”
“Uh?! Women in general love Marilyn Monroe. It was NEVER a black thing. Who came up with this question lolol cuz its funny.”
You know what is funny? The fact that I verify exactly what the commenters are saying in the damn article. The whole article states the fascination with Marilyn Monroe is an American obsession and not just a black one and I go on to challenge exactly who is in charge of creating the beauty standard for all women. But readers didn’t skim past the headline before getting defensive and writing essays about how pointless my article was. It probably was pointless to them because they failed to read the article to see if there was one.
Want to know a little journalism secret that’s actually not such a secret? Blogs and websites know that with Twitter and TMZ the average person has the attention span of a gnat. The headline is merely bait. It’s meant to get your attention. It’s meant to misinform you. It’s meant to offend you. Like a methhead, as long as we get that hit, we’re good. And the article could clearly be about bat shit, but our stats say otherwise. And readers fall for it every single time. And this is what makes me worry. With so much information a swipe away, I’d venture to guess many of us are becoming less and less informed. We make too many assumptions. We’re all self-proclaimed, writers, experts, bloggers and media mavens that we’re becoming too smart for our own damn good.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my readers. They make my day. And in all honesty, they supplement my income. But that’s my readers, not the skimmers who think they know me because of my opinions on the workings of the world. I love to see a comments section filled with healthy debate, quotes from something other than the first paragraph and a general respect for my thoughts, time and energy even if they disagree. But the most disrespectful thing I think someone can do to someone’s work is spread ignorance about something they didn’t take the time to read. That’s like me saying The Catcher and The Rye was a shit novel and then being like, “Holden Caulfield, who?”
I understand there are only so many hours in the day and too many cat videos to watch on Youtube. I confess I’m good for skimming headlines. But when someone brings up, “Hey did you hear about that lady that drove her kids into the ocean?” I don’t pretend to know the details on something I didn’t take the time to read. And I damn sure don’t pen an essay on anything I haven’t attempted to educate myself about.
I also confess that I write too much. I am entirely way too wordy. But if not my pieces, please take the time to read others work before you begin commenting and getting defensive. You might learn something. Literacy, especially media literacy is the most powerful strength we have as a people. Because the TV will literally tell you anything and blogs will have you believing things that couldn’t be farther from the truth. One of the reasons slavery was able to continue for so long was simply because slaves couldn’t read. The fucked up part is we’re able to, but choose not to. And because of it we are slowly growing to be some of the most articulate fools in history.