Thursday, December 15, 2011

If I Were Black On the Internet

The Jerk

Since I've started learning more about money and the Internet, I've come to see how certain habits we as humans have translated from the real world to cyberspace. One specific example is our tendency to herd towards things that could potentially harm us, or have no affect on us at all, all in search of the thrill of seeing and discussing shocking, sometimes distasteful, and almost always taboo subjects and events.

Recently, a Forbes Magazine author posted an article called "If I Were a Poor Black Kid". News feeds all over the net had something to say about the article. Black publications on, and possibly even off, the net are publishing their own articles, essays, and Facebook comments in response to the buzz that this man's article has created. Of course within the Black community this has created another fighting ground between the political and social camps of those who agree with the author’s statements and those who disagree. Of course, everyone is a critic, and entitled to their opinion. Regardless of what the author’s true intentions behind writing the article, or what anyone may think about him or the article itself, one thing everyone seems to have forgotten is that someone (Forbes) is making money from the attention we’re giving it. It doesn’t matter whether he had good intentions or bad intentions behind writing the article. We’ve made it too easy for people outside of the Black community to make money from putting their 2 cents in about our community, its condition, or the reasons for its condition. When someone says something insulting or degrading about the Black community, we flock to their doors just to see/hear them say it again. It speaks volumes about how little many of us understand about how money is made on the internet.

This situation with this article and others like it – even in other forms of media - is the same. Online, businesses get paid based off the number of viewers coming to their site, as well as any products or services they may sell. So all the people who went to that page to read it just so they could disagree and post comments on the page, or posted the link for others to go back and read it are STILL PUTTING MONEY IN THE AUTHOR AS WELL AS FORBES’ POCKET. Kind of like when Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre made The Chronic dissing Eazy E. Eazy still got paid royalties for every song Dr. Dre made on that album.

If you hear gunshots or see smoke, you don’t run in that direction to see who/what/when/where/why. We run the OTHER way. It’s a survival tactic, right? Well the same way we apply that tactic to preserve our physical wellbeing, we should start applying it to our financial and mental well being as well. If someone says that an article, or other form of media is disrespectful to us and it goes viral, then as a people instead of leading others to go see/read it, we should ignore it. It can be viral in every other community all it wants to be, it should stop when it gets to us. Which would have some type of impact, given that studies show we have the highest online presence - especially in social media. Now of course, people will still read the article. The thing is, we shouldn't continue to include ourselves in those publicizing and discussing it. Now once the smoke clears, of course let's go in picking it apart to see (being honest with ourselves) what we can take from it to preserve or improve our condition – and leave the rest where it is.

The attention and money that companies get for publishing this kind of content takes away from the web hosts, writers, artists, and businesspersons who have something worthwhile to offer their communities, their respective social group, and the world. That’s not to say that we should only take in moral, uptight, or politically correct media and content ALL the time. But let’s make sure that we’re not helping the trapper by flocking to it.

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