The writer side hustle has fundamentally changed the quality of information that Americans receive. It’s borne of a notion that anyone can be a writer, and it’s mixed with the desperation of the Covid pandemic that closed down restaurants, beauty salons, and a host of other businesses. People in the corporate world got their out-of-work spouses, nieces, nephews, and in-laws into the ‘writing game’ and the misinformation age blossomed.
Consider the typical ad, and the use of the word ‘hustle’. The ad shows a person with no gravitas who takes a free workshop and then is somehow ready to parse a world of disinformation and misinformation and deliver something accurate and true. The word ‘hustle’ seems innocuous at first, meaning ‘busy movement and activity’, but there’s a darker connotation of hustling someone or ‘playing’ them as a fool. The advice for job interviews for writing work has changed from showing you have the skills to assess and challenge bad information into having the applicant ‘sell themselves’ to the employer by being ‘obsequious’ and agreeing with everything. How is a person who hustles their way into a job supposed to challenge any misinformation going around?
The truth is that Americans have come to love their misinformation. ‘Hustling’ is seen in a positive light, and someone trying to impart some truth is seen as ‘raining on a parade’ or a bearer of inconvenient information. There’s a caught-up cycle that divides people into two opposing groups, and drives them into political activism trying to shut down opposing and ‘wrong’ views without ever considering the problems with the views their ‘tribe’ is putting forward.
It feels like a strange game of propaganda-making rather than anything resembling an effort to educate and provide a better understanding of other perspectives and concepts. So as a ‘real’ writer who wants to ‘inform’, do you give up and join the hustle? Or is it time to move on to a new vocation?