Elephant is Quitting the Candy Business.

Via on Feb 14, 2013

Birthday Cake and candy sprinkles free creative commons

Over the past week, several events have made me take stock of what we publish here.

First, Waylon’s article about whether elephant is becoming too fluffy. It’s true. We’ve had more than our fair share of positivity spiritual-lite articles lately. And relationship stuff, well, it’s important. How we connect to each other is important, if we are talking about it in a genuine, meaningful way. Not if we are a glorified version of Cosmo for yogis.

Second, I started thinking about an argument I had with a friend who didn’t want to listen to the news. “Too sad. Don’t want to ruin my whole day.” Yikes. Is this what we’ve come to? Feeling warm and fuzzy is better than knowing what’s going on? We’ll take the illusion of things being okay over the truth?

And then, today, one of our editors asked if it was okay to publish a news story about a difficult, heart-breaking event today, since it was Valentine’s Day.

What the hell kind of show are we running here if instead of keeping our hearts broken open and looking at the difficult things, we run for cover under platitudes and happy Instagram pictures? A mindful life isn’t one that only looks at the parts that make us feel good. If our mission, as an organization, is truly to benefit our readers and inspire them to live more mindfully, our “candy” articles should be the lesser five percent of what we are publishing.

Here is what we are about:

We are about increasing our readers’ awareness of what is going on in the world.

We are about giving our readers tools, genuine tools, to sit with the present moment whether it is beautiful or heart-achingly painful.

We are about people—of every background, every walk of life—who want to live a more mindful like and be of benefit to the world around them.

And we don’t get there by publishing bullshit articles that make you feel better about how your vagina looks or 10 more ways to feel “happy.” We get there by looking at all of it—the parts that inspire us and the parts that make us cry.

If we are going to make a difference, sometimes it means talking about things that sadden us or anger us. What we do next is what’s important. We don’t share articles about sad or difficult issues to make people fearful; we do it to inspire people to do something. The inspiring, uplifting articles aren’t meant to make us feel better sitting in our nice warm houses watching television. They are meant to make us want to share that light inside with others. When we share with each other in an authentic way, we skip the fluff and offer our true selves. When we start a conversation about the things that are broken, we begin to work together to fix them.

So, we are quitting the candy business.

 

Share your heart, share what’s true, write what is setting you on fire and you can’t keep in. You deserve to read more than candy, and we are here to give it to you.

 

Like elephant journal on Facebook.

 

 

 

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About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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32 Responses to “Elephant is Quitting the Candy Business.”

  1. SaraCrolick says:

    I'm all in, Kate; well put.

  2. Mara says:

    How do you reconcile this new policy with your increasing frequency of naked yoga type posts? I find them very offensive.

    • Well, most of the naked yoga (or the playboy yoga post) are older, but still sometimes show up in popular because people are still reading frequently. Also, we have had a few posts which feature nudity, but are not fluffy crap. For example, Liz Arch did an article last year about body image and abuse and dealt with posing nude, but there was a larger benefit.

      I don't find anything offensive about the human body. I find it offensive if an article offers no genuine benefit to our readers.

    • elephantjournal says:

      I'd also actually read that post–the commentary is interesting. That's what we do—cover all things that touch on the mindful life. Sexuality, feminism, empowerment, what is yoga, what is not yoga…these are all worthwhile questions. We are not the videos we post–we are the commentary about them, in such cases. ~ Waylon

  3. karlsaliter says:

    So glad to read this, because I for one can't even find my vagina.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    My comments: I don't think we were ever in it, but we are showered with it daily, and some gets through our filters (editors)…but now that we have paid, trained, inspired, fun editors, hopefully less and less gets through.

    To be clear, we were a quality magazine for six years before the web site, and the site offers mostly great stuff. That said, we're big enough now to be inundated with "candy" that we haven't asked for—fortunately, too, we're big enough to pay editors to process such candy. I don't mind sweet in small doses–our job is to be equal parts accessible and worthwhile—one without the either is a disservice. ~ Waylon Lewis

    • Amen to that! I came here because it wasn't fluff. I'm still here because I believe in where we're headed. I'm staying here, and consider it a huge privilege and responsibility to be one of the people responsible for keeping us great.

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Waylon…if you have time, please describe in detail the demographic EJ is targeting and then explain why this demographic is valuable. Until then this discussion has no basis for intent. I would be curious who it is you are targeting.

      • Padma, as has been said since we were a print magazine, the intended demographic is anyone who is interested in living a more mindful life. This isn't a demographic in the sense of targeting the "yoga community" or Buddhists, or 18 – 35-year-olds…every demographic is valuable.

        I notice you often comment and detract from whatever the current conversation is about. Why not step up and have something of your own to say?

        • Jennifer S. White Jennifer White says:

          Kate, I think that's so valid. When I find an odd comment under one of my blogs, I always think, if you have something so intelligent and worthwhile to add then where's your elephant submission?

        • Padma Kadag says:

          Yes I have a habit of detracting on "buddhist" articles….but why not? We, as buddhists, in order to follow the tradition must be sure about whether or not we are authorized to represent the Buddha's doctrine. As I said below, more and more acamedicians have taken it upon themselves to do this and frankly I do not recognize the Buddhism in it. Blogging is not a skilfull tool for spiritual practice.

  5. Rosanne says:

    I like how you and others at EJ are addressing this whole candy fluff that you feel is taking up too much space and time. Very honest and open. I look forward to see the change that will surely come about, bring it on!

  6. Tara Lemieux Tara Lemieux says:

    I absolutely love this new change ~ and I believe, longer term, it will be a much greater benefit to engage our readers in discussion over these sorts of things.

    • Yes, and as Waylon mentioned above, our roots aren't fluff at all! When there's a large influx of submissions and as our platform increases, our responsibility to our readers increases as well.

  7. Erin Motz says:

    I'm a big fan (and fellow contributor ;)) of Elephant and am happy to hear this news. I mean, yeah, who doesn't love a cutsie article about sweet nothings? But I totally see the "bigger" direction, and to that I"m sayin' Right On!

  8. Carolyn Riker Carolyn Riker says:

    Thank you so much for this timely article. Focused, intelligent, savvy, quality articles are the way to go!

  9. senthaimassage says:

    The vagina subject isn't bullshit though"And we don’t get there by publishing bullshit articles that make you feel better about how your vagina " The vagina subject isn't bullshit though, is it? I thought if anything that writing about vaginas a rather political subject.

    • Yes and no. If we are talking about equality, female circumcision, reproductive rights—absolutely. Am I glad we have a popular article that debunks myths about how the female anatomy should look rather than making women feel like they should improve it? Sure. But to me, it's slightly insulting to women's intelligence and character to assume we all go around worrying about it. Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues and things of that nature—definitely quality.

      But at what point does focusing on these things stop being helpful? How many articles do you see for men telling them they have beautiful and fabulous penises? Yeah, not too many. Body image—whether specific body parts or on the whole—is important to talk about, but hopefully, most intelligent men and women would like to read more about what's going on in the rest of the world than just listen to compliments about what's in their pants.

      • Jennifer S. White Jennifer White says:

        I agree that it's a "candy" method of attracting readers to a subject that's not high quality, or functional even, in actuality.

  10. [...] think this is when most people find religion. Most people can’t handle this kind of responsibility. If you think strict moral codes are tough, try absolute [...]

  11. Padma Kadag says:

    A large part of the problem is the use of EJ by persons who are engaged in "spirituaity" and have something to sell. They use EJ to advertise their feel good methods for free. Week after week they come up with crappy articles which only beg to drum up business.

    • Tara Lemieux tairui says:

      Padma – with all due respect, I do not agree with such a broad sweeping, generalized statement. The writers, contributors and editors that I know place great care to ensure that their words might have a positive impact to the readers.

      • Padma Kadag says:

        Tairui….I support much of what Kate has pointed out…but I do think that most of the regular contributors are getting free advertising for their businesses. Whether or not this is acceptable on a blog I really do not know, however I find the articles to be lacking in anything other than being "candy" or the over intellectualization of everything spiritual and just more of the same seemingly to advertise their "mindfull" services…but thats just my opinion. There really is no advice written here which has not been rehashed adnauseum. My particular interest is Buddhism and it's growth in the west. Buddhist articles more and more are only taken seriously these days if you have a "Phd" at the end of your name or are psychiatrists maquerading as buddhist teachers. This is a shame. Acamedicians have enthroned themselves as the represenitives of Buddha's doctrine and this is a concern of mine.

        • I agree, and this is much more thorough than your above comment. We have been routinely refusing PR oriented guest articles for awhile, and encourage columnists to place this information in their bio (if needed) but not within the article.

          As our audience is not strictly Buddhist, we have spirituality articles that are quite a range, and I agree that some have been on the "candy" end of the spectrum. I'd love to see more Buddhist writers, as well as quality writers from other backgrounds.

          Thanks for your thoughts.

  12. Bravo Kate & Elephant Journal. haters are always going to hate no matter what, but that's on them. Good stuff here!

  13. Rachel says:

    I have always enjoyed Elephant Journal, but canceled my subscription because of all of the porn/playboy stuff that started showing up. It find it offensive as well. I am not against sex, sexuality, or vaginas. I am against a preponderance of naked women's bodies/sex/sexuality used for the sake of selling magazine subscriptions – or selling anything at all, for that matter. I hope this kind of crap at least slows down so that I might want to support Elephant Journal again.

  14. Tracie says:

    This is the best news I've heard all week. Bravo!

  15. Freya Watson Freya Watson says:

    Thank you Kate! As a 'newbie' writer here, that has been one of the internal struggles I've had between writing articles that catch an audience and sharing what I feel is worth sharing. It's been a little like walking a tightrope at times, and probably still will be as we're all individuals and will interpret writing according to our own experiences. But yes, lets see integrity back at the heart of it – even if it means that we have to explain more explicitly why we are moved to write the articles we write. It'll be interesting to watch what that means in practice and I don't envy the editors' work trying to decide where a naked body or sexuality is used with integrity and when it is used to 'sell'. And, then again, if it 'sells' it means there's an audience there to 'buy'… hmm :) I love what EJ does and the intention behind it, so I'm with you anyway.

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