Today must have been my lucky day because someone sent me another Susan Patton article. It’s really no secret how I feel about Susan Patton’s advice for young women; I’ve written about her before. But, if you would like me to make it plain for you, I think Patton is an underqualified excuse for a writer who doubles as an infuriating woman single-handedly setting feminism back by about 100 years. That’s the nice way to put it.
Patton’s latest piece dropped on Valentine’s Day and cited her advice for young women who need to “smarten up and start husband-hunting.” But, it wasn’t all of her pitiful, good-for-nothing advice that tugged at me the most. No, it was her bio that really got me.
Ms. Patton is the author of “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding ‘The One,’ ” out in March from Gallery Books.
She got a book deal. This woman got a book deal. As I stated earlier today on Facebook, clearly what I need to do to fast track my writing career is become a flagrant prick.
It’s 2014 which makes it both a beautiful and also very maddening time to be a writer. The Internet has democratized fame. Everyone has access to everyone. The red tape that used to block us from celebrities has been stripped away. Welcome to the Internet Age.
Yes, the accessiblity and democracy of it can be quite beautiful. I do not make light of that. After all, a good chunk of you would probably have no idea what the hell Twenties Unscripted is without that accessibility and democracy. But, what can be maddening is how you no longer need to be the least bit talented or thought-provoking to garner attention. No, now all you need to do is write a salacious or shocking headline that will guarantee some clicks.
Do numbers matter in the Internet game? Yes. They do. You need to know your numbers. If you ever want any sort of backing, whether it’s investment or credibility or just straight bragging rights, you need to know your numbers. But, you don’t need to sell your soul for them. The Wall Street Journal didn’t pick up Susan Patton’s piece because it is a hard-hitting and insightful journalistic gem. They picked it up because it’s incendiary and would guarantee them some good hits.
And, I don’t mean to necessarily call out the Wall Street Journal. There are some other websites I once frequented that have now just become inflammatory Internet pissing matches. Websites with the word “thought” in them no longer prompt you to think. Online spaces that I used to once admire for empowering and uplifting women have become streams of dribble and dens where self-esteem goes to die.
I’m frustrated. Can you tell?
I just think writing as a discipline, writing as an art form, writing as an outlet is so much better than what the Internet has made it out to be. It pains me that someone like Susan Patton will have her wayward advice memorialized in print soon. Meanwhile there are millions of extraordinary writers out there who people will never know, online or otherwise.
In order to compose myself, I have to remember that the Internet and writing can exist as mutually exclusive things. Yes, there is writing on the Internet but the Internet does not represent all writing. And, yes, I am rationalizing now because I want to remain a believer. I want to believe that writing is still this heavenly tunnel for many of us to see our way out. I want to still believe that writing is this powerhouse of communication for us to connect and understand each other. I want to still believe that writing is one of the greatest gifts any god could ever give me. I want to still believe in writing. Even when the Internet destroys it. Even when people don’t read it. Even when people only write for hits and shock value. I want to still believe in writing. Writing has given me too much not to remain a believer.