Dear Huffington Post,
I’m breaking up with you.
I know. You’re great, and we had some fabulous times together. I mean, you never published any of my stuff, but that’s okay. I read your stuff. You gave me more stuff. I clicked your links, I shared your links. Other people read them. It was a mutually beneficial relationship. Sometimes you even shared some of the stuff I mentioned to you. It’s been great times. Really. And it didn’t matter that you had other relationships with thousands of other people, I’m not the jealous type. Even when those relationships were different from ours. Even when you published some of their stuff. We had what we had, and that was great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
I’m not breaking up with you because you don’t publish any of my stuff. Quite frankly, my stuff isn’t that great. I’m not breaking up with you because of the other relationships. I understand that you have needs that I can’t fulfill. That’s okay. You’ve been really great to me. But I see how you treat the people whose work you publish. And I fear that someday you might treat me the same way.
Your website aptly describes you as “The destination for news, blogs and original content offering coverage of US politics, entertainment, style, world news, technology and comedy.”
It’s true, you are all those things. That’s what attracted me to you in the first place. But here’s the problem. You see that part in your self description, the part about “original content”? That content has to come from somewhere. It has to be created, and creation takes work. It takes passion. It takes blood, sweat, and tears. It takes desire, drive, devotion, dedication, and deference. All of that comes at a cost. A cost to the livelihood of the person creating it. A cost that should be compensated for.
In recent history it’s been shown that you don’t compensate for that cost. First it was Wil Wheaton who noted that exposure doesn’t put food on the table. Sure he doesn’t need the money or the exposure. But hell, he’s still a human being (albeit vastly more awesome than me), he deserves to be compensated. Then it was The Oatmeal, but he managed to show you what for. You apologized and I thought, they get it now. We all had a good laugh and I figured you probably wouldn’t let some bullshit like that happen again. But then, finally, Terrible Minds exposed you for the ugly practices that you kept hidden under the stairs like Harry Potter.
I can’t. I just can’t anymore with you. It’s not that you don’t pay some of your contributors. It’s that you don’t pay ANY OF THEM. None. Not a single person. All 13,000, in the UK alone. You don’t pay a single one. FUCK YOU. FUCK THAT SHIT. You’re essentially asking people to be slaves. It’s not like some internship where they are working to get a paid position. There is no reward at the end of tunnel for these contributors, these content creators, who have poured out their souls for you. There’s nothing. They get absolutely nothing. It takes hours, days, sometimes weeks to create a great piece. To make content the world is willing to consume ends up consuming those who create it. And that’s just one piece, that doesn’t take into consideration the years we pour into our craft to become good enough to be featured on a site with your kind of reach and money. Yes, you have money. Plenty of money, money that you collected of the backs of unpaid labor.
And you say that we do it for the exposure, we do it so that you know it can be “real”. Well guess what. I will never write something as real as what I am writing today. And no, you don’t have permission to use it, share it, or place it anywhere on the internet. I don’t want your exposure. And I don’t want other people to be exposed to you. As of this moment I’m removing all of your content from my life. I’m unfollowing you, unfriending you, and generally cutting you out of my life. I won’t share your links, read your articles, or recommend contributions to you.
I know. You probably don’t care. I have a grand reach of exactly two people (hi mom). But I know people. And maybe one of them will follow suit. And they know people, who know people. Maybe some of them will follow suit. Maybe one of them knows someone as popular as Wil, or Matthew, or Chuck. And maybe that person will follow suit and tell their millions of readers (who are generally writers too), to follow suit. And at the end of the day they’ll all join hands and #boycotthuffpo. Then maybe you’ll get it.
Until then, peace out.