“And if your goals don’t include any of those, that’s okay, too!”
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a baseball star. When I skipped a grade, and was suddenly a foot shorter than everyone, and could no longer hit a fastball well, I decided I’d be a baseball writer. As I continued to read (thanks mom) I fell in love with books and decided to be a straight-up writer.
But I grew up poor, so poor we went without presents and lost our house and didn’t usually have a car or eat at restaurants and lived on popcorn and rice sometimes, and my mom worked a bunch of jobs and cried and fell asleep at random times because she was so disappointed in herself or tired.
I was never disappointed not to get presents, say–she gave me a wonderful home and life and I remember smiling as a boy, always, and caring about our environment and animals and the present moment and old oak antiques for far cheaper than new crap at Target and I got all that from her.
But I had something else going: I didn’t want to grow up poor forever. So I said, well, I want to be a writer, how can I make money doing so? So I figured: journalism.
So I studied journalism and politics on full scholarships and grants at a great school for journalism and politics and I figured I’d start a company ‘cause even then journalists got paid sh*t—citizens, as evidenced by the popularity of Instagram and fake news, don’t value journalism.
So I started a company and ate day-old muffins and slept on ratty couches and, over 6 years, built it from national magazine out of nothing, and no money, to the first mainstream non-gay-rights-focused magazine to put gay rights on our cover…
…and then, 11 years ago now, we went online and my house went into foreclosure and I ate day-old muffins again and all through it I dated but didn’t have time to focus on relationship in a way that would make any partner happy, let alone children, so I put that off in service to the vision of creating a real huge worldwide community of care-ers. And I’m still at it, as are 1000s of amazing Elephant writers, and we pay the best among them and are building an ecosystem that will pay 1000s of writers through reader “tips.” My vision is to create a mission-driven reddit with underlying journalism-ethics (meaning truth over Goop or magical thinking or profits).
But then Amazon, Facebook/Instagram. Google/Youtube have taken over journalism, folks get their news from Instagram, sharing fake news and bullshit without caring about sources…my father lost his job as a journalist ’cause the 100-year-old Rocky Mountain News died, ’cause folks don’t subscribe to journalism. I’m writing this on the enemy’s land. [This was first penned, mostly, to my Instagramland.)
That’s what we teach: use social media to create a career you can pay the bills with, that you love, do something you’re good at, that’s of benefit, find your people, learn to write words of cathartic joy and truth.
And now I’m 45 and I can’t even make a 3-day working vacation out of Boulder, two weeks ago, ’cause I’m working day and night to keep my indie media community going and yet folks pouring their heart out (only) on Instagram, not realizing they’re feeding the wolf of monopoly and billionaires who don’t give a care.
But I give a care, and I not only see a way forward I’m working my arse off to get there. Won’t you join me? Share your voice.