In Today’s Shocking News, Bloggers Are Revealed to Be Unhealthy Obsessive Nerds

The New York Times, full of schadenfreude and concern, runs a story about pro bloggers and their unhealthy lifestyles, which may have contributed to the death of two prominent (if older) tech bloggers and the heart attack of Om Malik. It also reveals that pro bloggers often get paid crap and have pay tied to page views; i.e., if the blogger’s posts don’t have readers jabbing the “more” links like cracked-out lab rodents, the blogger’s portion of gruel will be extra small that evening. Add it all up and you get a bunch of mostly-young, mostly-male, mostly-OCD bloggers terrified to leave their crappy one-room Brooklyn apartments, ever, for fear they might miss posting about something that will generate enough page views to allow them to level up that month from ramen to mac and cheese. It’s blogging as gold farming. Well done, Nick Denton! Well done indeed.

Of course, who am I to say: I’m writing this before midnight on a Sunday, me and my doughy, marshmallow-pale abs, and I’m not even getting paid for it. Even the most humble pick-wielder in Denton’s virtual salt mines makes more from his blog-typery than I do. Fair enough. On the other hand, I am not daily compelled to post the blogging equivalent of empty calories — “Best of” lists that even VH1 wouldn’t touch for sheer, elemental shame, as just one example — in the hopes that enough nerdtards will favor me with a press of a “Digg it!” link that I can boost my page views into bonus pay territory. I like not having to intellectually humiliate myself online for page views. When I intellectually humiliate myself online, it’s for the pure pleasure of it. It’s a small yet telling difference.

(What about all those years as an AOL blogger? A monthly salary, independent of page views, and no limit on subject matter. And one of their main concerns was that I might update too much. Yes, it was a sweet gig; I doubt we’ll see its like again.)

Going back to the health issue, I don’t know if there’s much to be done to convince bloggers too paranoid/desperate for cash to leave their desks that getting out into the fresh air might do them some good, since I suspect it’s not the blogging that turns these fellows into phosphor trolls, it’s just their excuse for being so. If it wasn’t blogging, they’d be compelled to stay indoors and out of the sunlight for other reasons entirely. And for those reasons, they probably wouldn’t even get paid. The best we could do for these folks is maybe equip them with a stationary exercise bike with a flat surface they could rest their laptops on, so they could at least get some cardio while typing up blog snark. Heck, I might even do that myself.

16 thoughts on “In Today’s Shocking News, Bloggers Are Revealed to Be Unhealthy Obsessive Nerds

  1. They should hook their power supply to the exercise bikes like they do with TVs in the gym. But then I suppose some would die from exhaustion.
    But I doubt the coroner’s report will list cause of death as blogging.

  2. I built a platform for a laptop onto my exercise bike. Heath Robinson would be proud, but it works well. 42 minutes of some TV show (on DVD) and I’ve usually covered 10-12 km.

  3. I had never thought of Mac and Cheese as a “level up” from ramen. What is next in the progression?

    “You want some mac and cheese?”

    “No, that stuff cons green to me. I’m doin’ Manwhiches now “

  4. I got one of those bedside tables that can swing over the bed, like you see in hospitals, and stationed it next to my lower priced treadmill. Set on low speed, walk/blog/post, and you can spend hours on there getting great continuous cardio benefits. The miles just seem to roll by with little effort. If I keep the phone handy I can work too. Of course, you have to want to get the exercise…

  5. I think you do get paid for this, in a way. How many of your readers/customers discovered the blog first, then tried one of your books?

    You should do a survey.
    Why did you read your first Scalzi book?
    a) saw it on a library/bookstore shelf
    b) recommended by a friend
    c) on-line review by someone other than Scalzi
    d) self-pimping on Whatever
    e) other

  6. A cursory search brought up Slim Geek. But they don’t seem to be doing so well. The workstation part isn’t even available, anymore. It occurred to me that a recumbent bike and a rolling laptop desk might work just as well, and I found a bunch just this morning. Under $200, which seems reasonable for a piece of home exercise equip. Shouldn’t be too hard to rig a laptop desk or other desk-like thing to go over top of one of them.

  7. If it wasn’t blogging, they’d be compelled to stay indoors and out of the sunlight for other reasons entirely.

    Sunlight is *dangerous*. What other reason do you need?

    That said, these guys clearly need to do more DDR.

  8. Already did that. Total costs: $99.00 for a recumbent exercise bike at WalMart plus scrounged extension cords, and old PC which had been sitting in the basement, and a spare workbench.

    It’s important to use a recumbent bike because for me being upright or leaning forward is not good. It causes excessive jostling, swaying or general unsupported movement, all of which I deem bad. I need a steady mouse-hand! It’s also tough to figure out where the monitor should go and your mouse should sit if your head is six feet above the ground on a normal exercise bike.

    It’s nice to be able to feel somewhat productive or at least to get through my reading while exercising. Let’s face it: I’m gonna surf the blogs, so I might as well admit it and double-up on the time.

  9. Oooh, ooh, humor. May I join in?

    I don’t know about bloggers but ‘unhealthy obsessive nerds’ is redundant. I say that proudly as a nerd.

    Nerds think the best way to exercise is to start slow and then taper off. Nerds think when they get the urge to exercise they should lay down until it passes. Nerds write a paragraph like this which need a really good joke at the end when they don’t have one.

    Seriously though I think DDR is great – it gets some video gamers to actually exercise while playing. Me I like to watch it. Because of my bad knee. Yeah, that’s the reason.

    Also I was depressed to find out how little electrical energy can be produced by an exercising human. It is pretty pathetic. Some Japanese scientist wanted a way to harness that energy and all he could invent was clothing that when moved would create enough energy to charge a teeny tiny battery. Supposedly the military might still be interested but lets face it, we aren’t gonna be running any streetlights off human power.

  10. Actually, they make little mini exercise bikes that fit under your desk. I thought seriously about getting one. (You can also put it on the desk or table and use your hands to pedal for a while, thus decreasing the doughiness, if not the marshmallow pallor, of the abs.) The mini stair climber I got via Craigslist has been great – I haven’t tried it under my desk while I work, but it’s right next to the desk for quick bouts of exercise.

    For me, the annoyance factor of that pay structure would probably be more unhealthy than the exercise issue.

  11. XKCD nailed it. It’s important that every last error on the internet be stamped out. Still, the important question is whether it was intentional that he chose 386 for the page for that specific comic.

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