Why Am I An Authority?

(I’m like the Jesus of essay-writing to some people)

It has occurred to me that you people like it when I tell you what to do; two of my most seven popular posts last week were ‘Pro Tips’ posts, as were three of my top four posts in the last month. And I want to know why; I know that I’m not bad at writing essays, but I’m sure there are more effective essay-writers and -teachers, like people with actual English degrees.

I think a reason for this is that people are very uncertain these days; we’re not getting stupider as a species, but inventions such as the Internet mean we’re exposed to many more views than we would have been a century ago. This both means that we’re afraid of making decisions ourselves, as deciding to follow one set of advice necessarily means rejecting another, and so we seek the views of others to reinforce our own ideas; as a result, we look for even more views and ideas, further confusing our own decisions.

And perhaps my particular brand of unconventional advice and blunt terms of encouragement can help people in these increasingly indecisive times; its hard to determine which advice makes the most practical sense, but its a lot easier to choose, and follow, that which is presented in the most assertive and upfront means.

Also, I think that practical ease is an important factor; it may not be advisable to listen to me, but its pretty easy – you just need to hit ‘follow’, or even check back here every day because I post all the bloody time. And this does make me fear that people will only listen to me because its easy, as that puts responsibility for my viewership with the Internet as a social concept, not my writing skill, which is a little discouraging.

More broadly, this does suggest that information-gathering will become focused on the ease of obtaining information, not its actual quality; we’ve already seen this with the rise of Wikipedia, whose defining characteristic is that information can be obtained easily with its ‘In the News’ front page directing you towards articles about Putin, and blue underlinings that let you play amusing games with your friends.

But I am a producer of ‘content’, and perhaps it’s better to be recognised for doing things that may not have a great deal of intrinsic value – like every celebrity ever – rather than the alternative, that is struggling to pay off my 27 grand student loan exclusively through short novels and confessional poetry.

But perhaps I’m over-thinking this, and I should just take your views about my essays and get on with my life.

John Green on reading

Vladimir Putin!

The Wiki Game

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