Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Living in a Clickbait World

At one time, the media was fairly straightforward. "Real news" came from legit media outlets. Unsubstantiated rumors were presented in this format:



Then came the Internet. Today's news can come in a variety of ways. You might learn a celebrity died on Facebook or read about a major event on someone's blog. Some "news sites" combine news with personal essays, where writers comment on news events or tell their own personal stories.



My mom and I were discussing it and she pointed out something I hadn't realized. These personal essays, which are all the rage now, are very similar to the stories that used to be published in these magazines:



My mom and I both wrote for those magazines at various times. (Yes, she's a writer, too!) The best thing about writing for "confessions magazines" was that we wrote the stories anonymously, so we didn't have to worry about reputation destruction.



Not so with essays. I have to write about fairly innocent things anyway, due to being a children's author. But even if I didn't, I just couldn't bring myself to give out personal information for money.



In the age of the Internet, what you write can remain out there for-e-ver. With your name attached. When people Google you four years from now, what will they find?



Would you ever take money for a personal story about your life? What secrets are off limits?

53 comments:

  1. I can't image writing a personal story for money. I guess I'm just old-fashion, but I wish news was still released just as news without all the extra. If I want the 'drama stories' then I'll look for them.

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    1. I have to say I like the fact that we can hear from average people now...the posts on some of these sites are very interesting. Instead of just hearing what Donald Trump has said today, for instance, we can read about someone who once worked for him or someone whose life will be affected by the policies he's setting. It's the "reality TV" world we live in where information no longer goes through a filter...in fact, personal blogging actually contributes to that world!

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    2. Although I must add that less "news" about what the Kardashians wore to a party last night would be VERY nice!

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  2. I can't imagine writing one either. Besides, as you read earlier this week, I've had a rather normal, happy, uneventful life. Would make for boring reading.

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    1. Mine is fairly boring these days--but I just pitched a story to an editor about my experience with sunless tanning. It's weird the small things you can find in your everyday life when you really start looking for inspiration!

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  3. Knowing your work is out there forever certainly gives you pause--even when writing fiction. Maybe that's why pen names were invented? The person that invents an "eraser" for those embarrassing internet posts we wish we had never made will make a fortune!

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    1. And even worse now that we have Facebook and Twitter. The Wayback Machine lets you look up things you THOUGHT were gone. Although it's limited in how much you can see if you're going back 10 or 20 years. I'm sure they're capturing everything now, though!

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  4. Hmmmm...not into that kind of writing but I probably share more than I should on my blog!

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  5. I'm with Patty, sometimes I think I share more than I should on my blog. But am writing a memoir. I don't feel like changing my name, though...

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  6. I don't have the kind of life people would pay to read about. I suppose that's a good thing!

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    1. I don't feel like I do, either...maybe that's why we do better at fiction!

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  7. I am far too boring to have any worthy secrets. Meanwhile, for humorous aspects of my life, I've already written my memoirs - My Zoo World and Athletic Antics. And no - no one is really paying for those!!

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    1. Awww. The good news is, you have your story out there for your future ancestors to read. I would love to have something like that to read about my grandparents and great grandparents.

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  8. I draw on my life's experiences for my characters, and embelish it to make it more interesting. I don't think I'd want to write it for real. Interesting post, Stephanie.

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    1. Embellishments definitely make our stories more interesting!

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  9. I have plenty of "secrets" and stories in life that are off-limits. However, I share stories that will help others and help advocate for change. I think it's important to let others know they are not alone. The forever thing always makes me think about what I say and how I say it--how i want the world to remember me. Maybe the forever thing holds me back a little, but it should. And it is important to teach kids/teens about the forever of the internet and what they publish even on private social media will never go away.

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    1. That's great! I think it's important to make a positive contribution to the big picture, rather than adding to all the noise that's out there.

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  10. I might... if I could use a pen name and the story never traced back to me.

    Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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    1. That was the fun part about writing for True Story! You could write about anything.

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  11. I rarely write very personal pieces on my blog. Perhaps I would get a little more intimate with my readers if they paid for the privilege, but I'm not sure. As far as what secrets are off-limits, I can't really answer that, can I? :)

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    1. It's odd--if you're paid to give your secrets away, people accuse you of selling out. If you're not, they accuse you of just being too open. You can't win!

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  12. I can't imagine doing a tell all about personal stuff, although sharing some personal experiences as part of an article on a particular topic wouldn't bother me (aging parents, children's mental health, etc). I have no problem if other people want to share intimate details of their lives; they just need to be conscious about their own well-being and that of anyone they include in the postings. :-)

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    1. That's mostly what the personal essays I see cover--the everyday things many of us deal with.

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  13. I'm really more interested in fiction -- fictionalized life stories are okay -- than in reading about anyone's personal life. Perhaps because there are very few people I find that interesting. :) Stories, if good, that's something else. I know what you mean about the media these days, it's gotten out of control, hard to believe most of what's out there.

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  14. People love true stories. *shrugs* I would never tell stories my siblings would freak out about--without being anonymous. And nothing that would embarrass my kids or husband. Anything else? Why not? (Unless it involves subjects inappropriate to the audience I currently write for.)

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  15. I've really got a thing about my privacy. I don't understand how folks put such intimate details out on FB.
    Are you sure you were old enough to be writing for the confessions magazines:)
    I didn't realize your mom wrote too. Very cool. Sounds like a family thing;)

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  16. I'm all for memoirs for future generations, but in order to sell to the public there would have to be quite a lot of embellishment (at least in my case) to garner any interest ;-)
    You can't hardly trust the media to tell the actual news without bias anymore. It's as if opinions are facts and fiction is the new reality. No wonder lawyers are in their glory ;-)

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  17. My life is not exciting. I don't think there is anything to pay me for. I do read things at times that I don't think are a good thing to share with the world.

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  18. My life just isn't that exciting but if someone wants to read about my time being a totally awesome chicken chick, I may consider it! Lol

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  19. Everything is out there and nothing seems to be scared so it is up to the individual to write what they know will be there forever. Thankfully most people couldn't care less about me so that's good. i also don't write about hair colour or that i just gave birth to a goat

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  20. Fortunately I am dull and boring. Anything written about me could double as a sleeping pill. For which I am grateful.

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  21. ooh this is so interesting! I had no idea there were magazines like those, where the contributions were anonymous!?! so cool. My life is fairly boring so I don't think much would be off limits for me, ha!

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  22. My personal life is that: personal. It's like when I write a novel, I try not to put anything in it that I wouldn't want my family or ladies at church to read. Not that I've led an exciting life, but to me, I just couldn't tell others personal stuff. Not even for money.

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  23. How interesting that you and your mom wrote for the same magazines. As for publishing personal articles- I can't see it happening now, but I guess they say never say never. :)
    ~Jess

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  24. I like to keep personal things private. Even Facebook feels over the top sometimes.

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  25. This is so true.
    Once I keep my hand on the mouse, I have to be careful where I click on the screen (even by mistake)
    As for news, its very difficult to sift the genuine ones.

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  26. I'm not sure anyone would pay for my secrets. ;)

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  27. I love reading those titles on the magazine covers! So many random stories :) But yeah, like Kelly said, I'm officially the most boring person ever and no one would pay for any of my secrets.

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  28. How much money? For the right amount, I'll give you the tell-all version.

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  29. Since things stay on the internet, I never get too personal online.

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  30. Hi human, Stephanie,

    "Would you ever take money for a personal story about your life? What secrets are off limits?"

    I would never take money for a pawsonal story. However, I can be pawtentially bribed with a luxury dog biscuit!

    It seems none of my secrets are off-limits. The pesky puparazzi are forever hounding me about my secrets....

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny!

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  31. My life is crazy and I've always said I should write a book. But I might want to do that after my parents have passed away. They would be really upset lmao!

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  32. You know, it was easier when you had news and the enquirer... Don't share too much!

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  33. I didn't know your mom is a writer, too, Stephanie. How cool! It certainly would be safer writing anonymously. As children's authors, we need to be sensitive about what we post and even re-tweet cos there might be children/teens following us.

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  34. How fantastic you and your mom both wrote for the confession magazines - I used to write for the UK ones. There were so many back in the day. I wouldn't sell any of my secrets though :-) xx

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  35. I would, and the only secret that would be off-limits is how I got into the writing game to begin with.

    Father Nature's Corner

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  36. My gosh, you really wrote for these? I remember seeing these True Confessions magazines at the newstand as a teen (I'm 63) but I didn't have the money for them. They were so tempting, though!

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  37. Interesting question. Obviously, as a blogger, I do share some personal stories with the world and I don't charge a dime. But, there are some topics that I will not touch on for various reasons - something is too personal, I wish for something to remain private, or I wish to keep something sacred. I'm not sure I could be hired to share those stories.

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  38. I'm pretty open with my life. I really don't have much to hide. Some of the more painful things I've experienced I will gladly share if I see an opportunity to help someone else.

    But then again, I have no sex tapes in my closet. :)

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  39. Hi Stephanie,

    I love the take on this. I can remember way back in the day "True Confessions" and the like. All of which I seen at the news stands and my mother wouldn't allow me to read them.

    It is like that today. I tell many people I know....be careful what you put online because it will be on there forever. So if one wants to 'rant' then write a story and make an e-book.

    So many people put everything on Facebook it is crazy!

    -Donna

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  40. My life is pretty open. I wouldn't be embarrassed if much got out. But then, my life is also pretty boring. Not much to dish out that other people would heartily devour.

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