In one of his great essays, Orwell describes a joke in the satirical magazine Punch, making fun of pretentious wannabe-littérateurs (see what I did there?). The pompous young man announces to his aunt that he’s going to be a writer. The aunt asks what he’s going to write about. The dork replies, “My dear, one doesn’t write about anything; one simply writes.”
Blogging in a nutshell, amirite?
But bloggers don’t get paid, and even if they do, it’s probably nowhere near commensurate with the effort. For instance, here’s the Z Man’s advice to aspiring bloggers:
As far as material, post something every day, even if it is just a couple of paragraphs. That way, you get better and you get into the habit of running a blog. If after a few months it is no longer fun, you’re out a hundred bucks and you learned something about yourself.
Left implied is the actual time spent cranking out a few paragraphs. You’ll have to take my word for this, but when I’m on my game I’m a blazing-fast writer (and even when I’m off, I’m pretty speedy). Not quite up to Henry Morton Stanley standards — he apparently crashed out one of his umpteen-hundred-page travel books in something like three weeks — but pretty fast nonetheless. Still, I bet my “average” blog post — tossed off with few or no links (meaning little to no research), no revisions, bare-bones on-the-fly editing, etc. — takes between 30 minutes and an hour. Anything that takes sustained work — research, redrafting — can take all afternoon. A quick search on “how much do contract computer programmers make?” comes back with a range between $35 and $400 an hour. Assuming my stuff is low- but not bottom-end (and that I’ve taken the advice of Our now-unemployed Betters in journalism and learned to code), a day’s post costs me something between $50 and $250.
Obviously I don’t actually get paid squat, and there’s no legitimate comparison between blog posts and contract code, but the point is, “writing” is one of those “prestige-only” occupations. Even those writers who are good enough to make a living solely off their authorial voice (the H-list, according to D-Lister Larry Correia’s hilarious official rankings) are so few and far between that it’s just statistical noise – you undoubtedly have a better chance of meeting a professional athlete than you do a professional writer. Even if you make a buck or two off blog ads, or sell a novel or three on Amazon, writing is just a hobby, for 99.9998% of the people who do it. When you take all the money your self-published novel made on Amazon and divide it by the umpteen hours you spent writing it, you get the kind of wage college kids stage protests about (be sure to pick up your authentic logo gear at the bookstore!).
Education works like that, too. Nobody scoffs at teachers’ claims of being overworked and underpaid more than I do, but they’ve got a point for all that. Teachers work iceberg-style — the work you actually get paid for is about 20% of the work you actually do. It’s true no matter where you are on the academic food chain. We joke that teaching is a 24/7 job — 24 hours a week, 7 months a year — but even the tenured work hard. As I’ve tried to show, above, even those incomprehensible “gender studies” gibberish books represent a significant time investment. Throw in committee meetings, all the other “university service” bullshit, and the umpteen zillion voluntary-yet-mandatory things the tenured are required to do, and if you’re not exactly at “Indonesian child laborer” wage levels, your plumber still out-earns you by several orders of magnitude.
Why do it, then? Well, consider medicine. Medicine is the ultimate iceberg profession. Now, I’m not saying docs aren’t well-paid; of course they are. What I am saying, though, is that if a machinist were capable of working 120-hour weeks — as medical residents routinely do — they’d be bringing in way more than doctors. And those 120 hours are the hours actually in the hospital; they don’t get paid for writing notes, reviewing charts, studying for exams, and the million other things they do. Dating a medical resident was, in fact, one of the great eye-opening experiences of my life. When we finally did manage to get together, our “dates” usually consisted of a brief talk over takeout Chinese before she fell asleep on my couch.
Docs don’t do it for the money, in other words. They do it to be doctors, in the same way professors do it to be professors, and writers do it to be writers. I know lots of doctors and professors, and none of them — not one — has ever wanted to be anything else. They’d still do it for half the pay.
This is a key weakness for attacking the Left.
As C.S. Lewis said, the Devil can’t stand to be mocked. That’s no longer true in this brave new social media world — mocking a Millennial means “ur h8in,” which means you’re thinking about her more than she’s thinking about you, which means she wins — so let’s modify it: The Devil can’t stand to be ignored. Ace of Spades — no mean Twitter addict himself — points out all the time that the Jonah Goldbergs and David Frenches of the world pretty much live on Twitter. This is because they know all the stuff I’ve written above is true.
Whatever they get paid, it’s nowhere near a “living wage” for the amount of work they do, if you include “basically living on Twitter” as work. Which it is, of course, since opportunity cost is a thing and living the Twitter life basically precludes doing anything else. To this type of person, “I have 100,000 Twitter followers!” isn’t a childish boast; it’s an existential claim. Deny them that, and they are literally nothing.
It’s crucial that we understand the difference. Oscar Wilde nailed these goobers’ psychology over 100 years ago: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Goldberg et al would rather be praised than mocked, of course, but: Mockery serves the exact same psychological function. In a very real sense, these people are terrified they’re NPCs — they’re not real, because they’ve dedicated their lives not to doing something, but to being something… and that “something” rests entirely on external attention. That’s why they’ll write anything, say anything, do anything, so long as they can keep telling themselves they’re “writers.”
Cut that off, and they’ll self-immolate. It must be a horrible way to “live.”Loading Likes...