Friday, March 6, 2015

Satan's Six Tips for Creating Online Content

To:  All of You "Content-Providing" Meat-Monkeys On the Internet
From:  The Man of Wealth and Taste
Re:  That Stuff You're Doing Wrong

OK, I lied.  You guys are doing great.  I have to tell you, I'm impressed.  Back when I was first working with DARPA on this little internet project, I had no idea it was going to be as wonderful and delicious as you've made it.

I thought, "Oh, maybe this will help a little bit."

"Maybe the anonymity and the instant access to every last dark corner of your collective subconscious might make you a little more negative and adversarial," I thought.

"Maybe feeding your every desire at every moment will make you a little shallower, a little more empty and trivial, more vain, and a little less patient with each other," I hoped.

Man.  You are nailing it.  Better than my wildest dreams.  There was some risk there, honestly, that you might take this and make the world a better place.  It was a gamble.

But you've taken it, and run with it.  You endlessly pass around empty nothings, outrage and porn and kittens and outraged kitten porn, and the wonderful, bloody, broken world rolls on.  So thank you for that.

But some of you insist on trying to be "creative," "writing" and "thinking" and generally trying to upend my lovely little project.  For the few of you still under the illusion that anyone cares about "content," instead of just endlessly passing meaningless things around, I've got some reminders about how to do it correctly.  In negative form, of course.  Negation and opposition are the only legitimate forms of expression, as we all know.

1)  Don't do it when you feel like it.  C'mon, you worthless fool.  This is work.  You do not write for the "joy" of it.  For the "love" of it.  Because it is your--faugh--"gift."

You write because you hunger.  You want lots and lots of people to read your stuff/articles/blogs and to love you and despair.  You write because you are desperately hoping that you'll become one of the tiny minority of souls who become marketable on the 'net.  Being able to write?  Once, you could make a modest living at that, at a small town newspaper or writing for magazines. Now?  Heh.  Now you get to be desperate and anxious, ever aware of your failure.   You feel that anxiety gnawing at you, that hunger to be needed and wanted, for likes and plusses and shares?  Yes, there.  That shimmering, coppery, stress-feeling.  That's me.  Your fear.  Your sense of inadequacy.  Your envy. Listen to that.  Let it drive you.  Let it rule you. Every day, let it rule you.  It's the path to winning!

2)  Don't Have Wide Ranging Interests.  If you want to succeed as a blogger or online writer, you're not allowed to do this.  It is absolutely forbidden. I forbid it. You can only care about one thing on your blog, because you need to be one of the chorus of experts who chime in on a single topic.  You are a mommy.  Or a car enthusiast.  Or a professional celebri-snarker.

What you are not, as a provider of content, is complicated and varied.  Posts on "faith", followed by posts on obscure economic matters, followed by slice of life stuff?  C'mon.  You need to create a platform, not talk about the things that interest you.  Be monomaniacal.  Be consistent.  Go on and on about the same things, over and over again, because that's what gets you noticed.  Sure, it might feel faintly psychotic and obsessive after a while, as you pore frantically over your analytics.   But that's how you're supposed to feel.  How I want you to feel.

3)  Don't be Peaceful.  To succeed as a blogger, showing a grasp for nuance and a willingness to engage thoughtfully with those who are different is a pretty much surefire way to fail.  To succeed, you must be contentious.  Find people you don't like, and who you know other people don't like.  Or find someone in your field who everyone knows.  Then, snark at them.  Find something that they've said, and be sure to take it out of context and proportion.  Then attack, attack, attack!  Provoke them!

Remember, kids: your goal is to accuse and undercut, because everyone loves a good fight.  Except for them.  But they're weak and horrible and ignorant.  Ignore them.

4)  Don't be Honest and Respect Your Readers.  Clickbait and Triggers and Listicles!  You know what draws people in.  So play with their emotions, with their desire to have the feels all big and feely-like!  Tell them how they're supposed to respond.

Your heart will melt!  I can't believe they did this!  Powerful!  Inspiring!  Tears!  This!  LOLs!  OMG!  You'll never believe it!  You have to tease and play and lie, and draw them in by bending and warping their grasp of the real.

Manipulate, manipulate, manipulate!

5)  Never neglect the Buzz of the Day.  Something just happened?  Something everyone is excited about, as the mad-dreaming-god of the twitterverse lights up over a dress or a celebrity or an awards show or a sportsball game or the outrage du jour?  You'd better have an opinion about it, or you'll miss out on those precious hits and visits and likes.  Do not be circumspect.  Do not reflect.  That slut "Lady Wisdom" doesn't know what she's talking about.  React!  Now!

Or maybe there's a movie just released, and the 'net is alight with the diligent work of publicists and corporate marketers pitching the next lovely bit of ever-deepening cinematic ultraviolence.

You need in on that.  You must be part of that.  Oh, sure, it's empty, mindless, thoughtless stuff.  In a week, it'll be as if it never existed.  In a year?  Hah.  Your flatulence has more existential import.  What a delightful, wonderful waste of your life!  But our goal isn't for you to grow or mature or change, remember?  You don't want that.  You just want to churn and churn and churn, ever in the empty corporate chaos of the cultural moment, never seeing the big picture or the path you're on.

6)  Never Ever Be a Person.  You're a Brand.  People don't want you to be you.  Not really.  They want consistency and simplicity, like a BK Triple Stacker or a can of Red Bull, always the same.  So think about your brand all the time.  Be careful to protect it.  Never vary what you say or think, because that would dilute the brand.  Never step outside of what you know people expect from you.

Yeah, this is basically number two again.  But I'm bored with you already, because you humans are boring and tedious and really should be doing something else right now.  Oooh, look!  There's a thing you can be mad about!  See?  A person you hate!  Oh, how you hate them!  Go flame them!  Now!

Soon, and with practice, you'll stop being and thinking like a person at all.  You'll be your brand, a false, shallow market-construct charred into the dead flesh of what was once your personhood.  Oh, I love that smell.  It smells like bacon.  It smells like victory.

6, Again)  Did I say Six Tips?  Huh.  I guess, having doubled up number two, I lied.  Surprise, surprise.

But what is a lie, really?  What is truth, really, here in this place that is less real than your dreaming?

Seriously.  You guys are doing great at this.  Keep up the good work!