Blogging hazardous to your health? Posted by: McQ
on Monday, April 07, 2008
Well, so says a story in the NY Times. It concentrates on "professional bloggers". Although I'm not a professional blogger, I play one on the internet.
It seems that a couple of bloggers have died and the NY Times sees that as possible epidemic among the victims of the blogging masses trapped in their self-created sweat-shops:
They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.
A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.
Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.
Can the naming of a disorder be far behind (may I suggest Post Blogging Stess Syndrome -PBSS?)?
Despite the fact that correlation is not causation, the NY Times plows on:
Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.
To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.
The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-compensated for it.
“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”
“This is not sustainable,” he said.
Well not if you're taking in "millions" and have set it up like that, no, probably not. But then poor business practices have little to do with blogging. Or said another way, perhaps if he had a more efficient business operation the stress level would be less whether the business was based in blogging or traditional reporting.
Eh, it's got to be blogging.
Ed Morrissey has the best take on this. First he is amazed that somehow he's managed to finally become a part of a victim class. And then he sets the record straight and lays out what I would imagine most of those who are paid to blog think about it:
I started professionally blogging a year ago. Since then, I eat better because I eat at home. I sleep better because I can take a rest when I need it. I lost weight because I don’t do drive-thru on long commutes to an office. I am much more relaxed because I spend all day doing what I love, rather than compensating for the stress of the above jobs, at least three of which I did myself as an adult in the last twenty-five years.
Thanks to the New York Times, I do have the answer to my introspection: I have no need of victim classes, even for myself. If making a living for constant commentary from the comfort of my own home has become the sweatshop environment of the 21st century, then we have truly reached the Golden Age of human experience.
Heh ... indeed. Like I said, I'm not a paid blogger, but I'll take Ed's word for it. Anyone who spends the time he does on something he loves and gets paid for it isn't a victim. Me? I find this to be therapeutic, enjoyable, engaging and enlightening. Would I like to be paid to do it? Sure. But obviously paid or not, I'd be doing it. Hardly the actions of a victim of anything but his own joyful addiction.
The upside of this is that nobody but lefty bloggers take the NYT seriously. Perhaps Kos will quit after hearing he is a victim, thereby improving the credibility of the blogosphere. Oh well, dream on.