Blogging: Not a Sweatshop

The New York Times, apparently, has recently discovered that some people blog as a career. Even worse, the stress of blogging is killing us: they adduce as evidence the recent (and tragic) deaths of Russell Shaw and Marc Orchant, and closer to home for us, Om Malik’s heart attack. Reading the article in the Times, you’d think that tech blogging in particular is one of the most dangerous things you could pick for an occupation.

Fortunately, I’m here to say that the Times’ view of blogging – and by extension all web work – is as silly as it is one-dimensional. Never mind that the overall death rate in the USA is about 825 per 100,000 (meaning that in a population of 1,000 bloggers we’d expect to lose 8 every year). Never mind that some bloggers at high-profile sites are being exploited, or are into a sort of geek machismo “I can work harder than you” lifestyle. If they’d just bothered to read WWD, they would realize that plenty of us in the digital trenches are able to successfully work on the web without overdoing it.

It’s certainly possible to overdo in the blogging world – but that’s true of just about any occupation, from management to software development to, well, you name it. It’s also possible to find a level of web work that allows you to have a life, with children and pets and regular meals and vacations. Of course, the folks who find a balance aren’t sensational enough to write news stories about. From my point of view, though, the real news is in the ever-increasing number of people who manage to work on the web without feeling that their lives are remarkable.

Perhaps the Times should have consulted the WWD archives and talked to some lower-stress bloggers before publishing their story. But then, how would they keep their page views up? I’m looking forward to the day when the major media starts publishing balanced stories about blogging and other forms of web work, instead of continually treating us as a freak show. Of course, as Marc Andreessen reminds us, future headlines could be worse.

Feel free to share your own success stories of web work without undue stress.

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