Friday, May 13, 2011

Lack Of Education Disgusts Me But AOL And The Huffington Post Disgusts Me More

So, I am reading a story on The Huffington Post about this 84-year old Kenyan woman who enrolled in the first grade just as soon as the government decided to provide a free elementary education for its citizens. 

The story is amazing, truly inspiring. To think she waited her whole life for something so many of us here in the United States take for granted. I can write, and thank god I can write because it has given me a voice I would not otherwise have.
It saddens and disgusts me to think, with all the things we humans have created we still can't manage to provide a decent education, the most basic tenet of our society, for everyone. I am not suggesting we force people to get an education, but for those who want one, governments should provide it.
Yes, in fact, I believe in unicorns and fairy tales as well.

As I was reading the story I was struck by something else: The Huffington Post is still chugging right along as if all is well. Fresh from the news they have been employing unpaid staffers to provide content for years and gave them nothing after receiving more than $300 million in their sale to AOL.

I used to enjoy reading The Huffington Post until I realized they were using writers as slaves. Ignorant slaves who agreed to work for free, but slaves none the less. I realize there is value in having your written story, your by-line, appear on The Huffington Post. That does not excuse them from taking advantage of people.
AOL is no better. Their Patch online news sites hire hundreds, soon perhaps thousands, of unpaid bloggers, offering them publicity and recognition instead. I tried to buy milk with my "recognition" once. It didn't work out well.
And no matter what you believe, writers are people. It's true. We are not machines which simply churn out millions of words until some of them make coherent sentences. We are living, breathing, thinking creatures who enjoy eating every now and again. Getting paid for the services we provide is the easiest way for us to eat. We could also sell our plasma, but that is just not as fulfilling spiritually.

So, yes, it disgusts me that humans beings in the 21st century still do not have the freedom to be educated, but it also disgusts me that people who should know better still do the wrong thing when it comes to creative talents. Where would The Huffington Post and AOL be without the content providers they do not pay?
They wouldn't be linked in this post, that's for sure.

One other thing--if you are one of those unpaid bloggers, or you are considering it, I suggest you first get your head examined, then go sell some plasma instead. It's less demeaning and far more lucrative in the long run. And you can write while you are doing it.

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