Medium Beefs & The Lost Art Of Staying In Your Lane

Medium has been in a weird space lately based on my feed. First it was the complaining about Medium’s algorithms. Then it was the open letters; albeit some of those were comedic gold. Now it appears that beef has taken on a passive-aggressive form.

Instead of taking umbrage privately or opting to engage in discourse with a writer off the record, people have resorted to writing dissertations of criticism.

Full disclosure: I don’t follow Jon Westenberg, Benjamin Hardy, Gary Vaynerchuk, or any of those writers. It’s not because I dislike them or their writing. I have God and my bible. That’s all the inspiration and motivation I need.

That being said, evidently, these guys bother a lot of people on this platform. I’m kind of surprised that there hasn’t been a tagged developed exclusively for curating these posts. Through snark, sarcasm, or outright disdain, these writers have been a hot topic. And it’s gotten old fast.

First of all, Mr. Westenberg is a far more mature man than I. I think his responses and explanations have gone above and beyond what his critics on Medium deserve.

Articulating his annoyance speaks to his character. It’s easy to go on the defense and throw off the gloves; especially when you’re just minding your business. However, I respect how Westenberg turned the tables recently. In his post “I Accept Your Challenge”, Westenberg issues his final statement.

Make better work. By all means, criticise and call me out, but if you’re angry — use your anger to publish more writing, create incredible articles. Out think and out last me.

Jon gifted Medium his writing playbook. If you desire to be bombarded with notifications of green hearts and recommendations, he told you how he’s been able to do it time and time again.

*Cues Hov’s “Heart of the City”*

In all of the complaining and whining, I ask the rhetorical question — “why are people so mad at those who work the system?”

To me, it all reeks off pure jealousy.

The common thread in the anti life-hacking call outs is that people don’t like seeing those posts in the Top Stories section. The key to the agitation is writers have figured that to build an audience, you have to cater to a huge cross-section of the population.

Simply stated, people are complaining because they’re reminded how writing isn’t just an art or revered talent anymore. It’s a business.

What grinds my gears is people won’t be honest about their envy and jealousy. They disguise those feelings as “higher than thou”. Or they talk about how passionate they are about being exposed to “real writing”. Or they attack the followers and fans of said genre. Plot twist: it’s okay to be jealous of someone else’s ability to connect with a large audience.

Writer’s envy is real. I’ve had great ideas but took too long to craft them. While I was busy over-thinking, someone, somewhere wrote a dynamic article — my idea but their words and execution. Does it bother me? At times. Although, I have no problem giving credit where credit is due. If their audience eats it up, I try to see the upside. At least I have proof that my idea was a good one.

Medium is a great platform. I hope that it’ll continue to grow, improve, and become a source of finding excellent writing in the echo chamber.

If Westenberg, Hardy, or any other type of writer bothers you that much, block them. I blocked Hardy a few weeks ago and haven’t seen his name on my feed at all. When I glance at the Top Stories section and don’t see 5 stories, I assume that a Hardy article didn’t make my cut.

It’s ridiculous to begrudge anyone for the attention and rewards they’ve earned. Regardless of your opinion, they have put a lot of work and time into getting to this point. Furthermore, consumers like what they like. If thousands of people happen to enjoy reading life-hack articles, who are you to judge?

On the business end, there are a plethora of ways to get more eyes on your work. In the era of digital writing, you have to be strategic if you expect to pivot your writing into other ventures. Especially if you aren’t a professional writer. The bottom line is even if Medium’s algorithm is biased and/or manipulated, on most days, the Top Stories are usually compelling, memorable, and demands conversation.

If you want that slice of internet-famous pie, create a story worth telling.

But for love of God, let’s stop being worried about what other writers are doing to prosper in their lane.


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