Recently a writer I know talked about not getting sucked into an online argument with a stranger, “because your girl doesn’t work for free.” I was nodding in agreement.
I cut way, way back on Internet arguments and rants a few years ago. I felt like the habit could make anger or bitterness my default setting, and I didn’t want that. I didn’t see a lot of minds being changed, anyway, so I doubted whether it was really worth it. Internet arguments seemed to yield a truly miserable return on investment.
But every week, millions of writers and other creative people are working for free.
They’re putting in hours of careful thought for online arguments and lectures.
In online communities, sometimes you’ll see a truly epic argument thread. (Once I witnessed one in a “private” Facebook group, and soon after, sections of it were printed verbatim in an article in a major magazine.)
In these threads, one person posts something, and another person disagrees. Before long, some people are posting walls of text that could pass for op ed columns, while others are posting snappy insults and collecting verbal high fives for their wit.
Dozens of people may be involved in the thread. If they were getting paid, it would represent hundreds of dollars’ worth of work.
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