To My Fellow Writers and Those Who Edit Them:
You do realize that not every news story has to be further contextualized into something beyond the basic facts or lack thereof presented, right? Wait a second. I think I need to state this even plainer for the room. Sometimes there are stories that are indeed deep as the Indian Ocean; other times, a story may be just a slip ‘n slide. Yes, just like both the childhood game and Trina’s old record label.
As much as I loathe the overuse of the term “thinkpiece,” I’d be remiss if I did not acknowledge that some of y’all are annoying as all hell when it comes to adding commentary to an event that probably doesn’t really need your pennies, nickels, or dimes. Like, it’s getting to the point now where a reality star could trip and fall on a reality show while cursing out a cast mate and there will be someone bound to write a 1000 word essay about the struggles women face in their oppressive stiletto heels. Son, she was drunk and that’s that. Move on. There is nothing to see here and definitely nothing to read at that length.
Now already, I can see some snark-for-hire quip online, “Oh, a thinkpiece about thinkpieces.” Jesus, Allah, Buddha, and Rihanna, I hope your keyboard spontaneously combusts into flames.
Moving right along to back to the original point, we’ve all collectively got to be a little more thoughtful about what subject matter we give serious thought to. Everyone needs to get page clicks and we all face pressure to get those hits like a stripper needs tips. I can attest to this, as I’ve had editors email me someone else’s tweets and expect me to come up with hundreds of words of “what they really mean.”
For example, a racist idiot is caught being a racist idiot— “I’d love to get your perspective on the bigger picture, Michael.” And to that I say, “He’s old, he’s hateful, he’ll die, another one will take his place and I’ll tell him to go to hell, too. The end.”
Or: “Michael, did you last night’s episode of [insert Vh1 melodrama here]? Can you write something about how it’s something-something, it’s destroying Black America and making Martin Luther King Jr.’s ghost cry inside of Sasha Obama’s room blah, blah.
Yeah, no. My brain deserves better than some of what it’s offered sometime. Nonetheless, I’m not treating Microsoft Word like it’s a Def Poetry audition. Neither should yours.
I’m pretty sure most of us have an idea of at least one news story this week that speaks to my larger point. Alright now, I’ll use three words and then I’m gon’ shimmy on by this: Sister Swift Kick. Caught it? Great. Next.
So, just stop it. Stop trying to make a celebrity fight highlight the purported destruction of the Black family. Quit projecting your PhD program wisdom—or your YouTube scholarship—when all you’re really doing is deciding and assuming someone else’s story. Resist the urge to treat a simple news story as though they come with an elastic band that can be stretched all the way into something that fits your agenda.
Tame your inner Reach Armstrong. You’ll be better for it. Now be good to yourself…and each other.