During the past few weeks I’ve had several conversations with “normal” (read: not techy, geeky, or even social-media) type-people about “What I Do” for a living. I try to sum it up and say I’m a writer, which is usually followed up with the fact I write for Forbes.com. (For “normal” people, elaborating on all the other writing and consulting I do is too confusing, so I leave it at that.) I then get asked what I write about, and I usually just say I write about technology and social media.
Most of the time, this leads to “oh, cool! So do you get to work from home?” or something like that. I think people have visions of me living the life of Carrie Bradshaw, with a cute little desk and a closet full of lots of shoes that I wear to glamorous parties with important people and spend most of my time at happy hours.
(…..ok…so that part isn’t that far off.)
In the last week, though, the response has been from these non techy, geeky, or social-media types: “Ohmygosh! So what do you think about the Te’o thing??”
…as if that was the most important thing to happen in the industry in the past few weeks. As if – I’ll just jump right to it – Aaron Swartz didn’t die, which highlights even more problems in our entire justice system that we need to discuss…problems that are way, way beyond technology. Problems “normal” people should care about.
But the thing is, “normal” people care about a football player carrying on (or, being duped into…who really knows…) a fake online relationship. They don’t care a pioneer of so much of the internet technology we use today killed himself as a result of a broken legal system.
In fact, I dare you to find a “normal” newspaper that carried a headline about Aaron’s death.
This is the reality: tech bloggers live in a bubble. We recycle our own bullshit analysis. We care only what each other thinks – because “normal” society doesn’t give a fuck about what the headlines on Techmeme are. Should we dare to think about what “normal” people think, I can only imagine the audience we could reach – and the impact we might have on greater society.
I know what happens when I take a broad approach to my writing and reach for the greater good. (Let’s just say there are more shoes and more happy hours.) The repetitive conversations about Te’o – and not Aaron – made me realize that a few things need to change around here.
For those of you that have already had this epiphany, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to shoot me an email. I’m curious to hear how you struck a balance between writing niche and writing “for the normal.”