We’re in a new era of the professional gossiper.
Years ago articles were vetted for substance as were the people behind the message. There was a limited number of pages that would be printed, and each page was extremely valuable. Contributors of that era had accomplished remarkable things in the fields they now wrote about. They weren’t writing to gain recognition or build a business around some armchair entrepreneurial opinions but were sharing insights based on years of experience, struggles and triumph.
Magazine and newspaper editors took pride in the relevancy, quality and validity of the stories. They counted on a high level of public trust in order to grow their business and revenue.
At coffee shops and water coolers you’d hear the mindless chatter and opinions of the armchair entrepreneurs talking about what this company should or shouldn’t do, what they’d do if they were in charge and why such and such new technology or strategy is where industry is going. Like neighborhood gossipers, these folks can’t get enough of hearing themselves talk. It’s invigorating and feels good.
But the gossip and armchair talk was contained. To permit one of these people to write an article about how to do it better or why someone in the game was doing it wrong would have been unheard of. This would have been professional suicide for any respectable outlet or editor. The gossipers and talkers remained on the sidelines, in their armchairs chatting away while the pros put in work.
Times have changed. The armchair entrepreneurs outnumber the pros by huge multiples. They always have. And they LOVE to hear themselves talk. They love to talk amongst each other. It feels good. It feels like something is actually being accomplished. Like attracts Like. Misery loves company. Yada yada yada.
With the emergence of the internet, social media and the transformation of “real” news outlets into traffic generating money machines, we have created an environment where the armchair entrepreneur has moved from the water cooler and coffee shop to contributor on big name media sites, guest on podcasts and blogs and nonstop chatterer on social media channels.
Instead of crowding together in private to gossip and wax poetic about what the people actually doing shit should be doing, they now find each other online. It’s a dream come true for armchair entrepreneurs who would have never been taken seriously in years past. They now have a monumental size water cooler to gather around and gossip constantly, twenty four seven three sixty five.
They can actually write books and call themselves best selling authors. They can count numbers of followers and fans and get featured on what looks like big time media of yesteryear, but now it’s all run by the same people who used to gather around the water cooler. Instead of talking about what that quarterback should have done last game, you can actually feel like you are the quarterback! It’s amazing!
Money talks for media companies, and the money is in the traffic. How many people can you get to your site every day? If bullshit gets more people there, then bullshit it is.
Considering the exponential numbers of armchair entrepreneur gossipers compared to the players on the field of battle it’s easy to see why media companies began using the ego of the armchair trep to make more money. Let them contribute. No one will share with more people than armchair entrepreneurs. If you let them contribute in droves, they will share in droves and traffic numbers go way up.
Is the content relevant, legitimate, vetted or even good? Who gives a shit as long as it increases traffic.
Holy shit! Now I can say I’m a writer for these publications I once envied and only dreamed of having my name attached to? Yes. It’s easy. And there are thousands and thousands of contributors. I can tell you there was no vetting process to participate.
It’s the equivalent of going to a fan convention and asking everyone in attendance: “If you have the ability to play QB in the SuperBowl and get us a win, please stand up.” And they all rise. Talk about what they would do, should do or could do and it’s off to the races. Put them in the game and it would be off to the emergency room or morgue. Comical and sad at the same time.
If you had a room of 10,000 armchair entrepreneurs and asked for all the real entrepreneurs, experts, authors and professionals to please stand up: they’d all rise.
Maybe I’m jaded or just getting old. I don’ t know. Maybe I’m complaining too much here and you’d prefer I write a top 10 list about branding, marketing strategy or best practices on social media. Ugh.
Ben Franklin died in 1790, nearly 225 years ago. Even back then he said “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.” I can only imagine what his take would be if he lived to see the landscape today. It’s less about quality, authenticity, honesty or relevancy. It’s all about the benjamins.