What Challenge?

Jon, I admire your desire to become a better writer, cut back on the listicles, and express an interest in promoting other, less followed writers. Those are all admirable goals.

I’m also sorry that you’ve attracted some nasty and insulting trolls, because no one deserves that kind of abuse.

Personally, I am grateful for all the life hacking writers. Without your group’s efforts, I would not have found brilliant satirists like Henry, Morgan and the rest of the gang who have made me laugh and inspired me to riff off their riffs, building our own virtual theater of the absurd.

Most of us cynics take delight in writing and reading hilarious send ups of you and all the other data driven content marketers because these kinds of articles lend themselves to satire, just like other celebrities, hypocritical politicians, and jackasses like Kanye and Trump.

I can’t speak for all the cynics — we simply can’t unite in our contrariness — but I don’t dislike or envy you or the other life hackers. You seem like a nice enough guy, so I’m sure if we all got together for a night of Cards Against Humanity or karaoke, we’d have a grand old time. I even enjoyed a couple of the articles I read when I first came on Medium.

If you have a tragic human frailty it’s your inability to see that you aren’t the center of the universe — our beef really isn’t against you personally.

Other than a small group of idiot trolls, no one hates you, your work or honestly believes Medium would be better off without you. (Hating you would require that you are a really important person who has the power and chooses to destroy other people’s lives. News flash: you didn’t lie to start a war, poison the water supply of a poor town in Michigan, or commit multiple homicides.)

No one has issued a challenge to you personally. (Unless calling you all out on your b*llshit is a challenge to each and every life hacker.)

No one cares that you have decided to reframe the reasons behind our mockery as a way to appear more heroic in your personal marketing story.

And no one is against you making a living by selling your consulting services to businesses that want to have a bigger social media presence. You have the chops to prove it, with your 500,000 views in a month.

You may be perfectly sincere about what you write, but you’re not providing personal life coaching — which in itself has dubious results — nor are you a licensed psychotherapist doing pro bono private online sessions with individual readers. So pushing your own personal life hacks (or ones you have read elsewhere) as a magic elixir to the general masses is nothing more than selling snake oil to the rubes. Henry explains this so much more eloquently than me.

The only issue we care about is that this kind of repurposed content completely dominates Medium, and crowds out writers with something personal, original and emotionally powerful to say, like A. McEnnis does in this story. (And if you read her story and learned something about real suffering, you’d understand why your melodramatic reactions are nothing more than a source for further lampooning.)

If people can find content by the tags they choose, rather than be flooded by life hack content because one person we follow happens to recommend these posts, I’m sure we can all live together in harmony.


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store