This post is part of the ongoing Sentry project along with my peers, Bryan and Brandon, whose blogs can be found here and here, respectively. The general idea is that each one of us will create a post on a subject of our choosing and the other two will write a response within a week concerning the post. Of course, we also invite anyone to share their own opinions and thoughts as well. The more the merrier, after all.
Like many of you reading this, I am a huge fan and user of the Internet. For research, entertainment, work, or just wasting a few minutes of time, I have come to use and rely on my computer and online access more and more with each passing day. Even when I do ever so infrequently turn on my television, it is usually just acts as a bigger screen for whatever I am streaming or working on. I am fairly certain that I watch more original content on YouTube now than I do on actual television. While the comments section always devolves into a cesspool of human thought and interaction, there is one particular topic that annoys the crap out of me; the discussion of revenue, advertisements, etc. on the videos being watched.
There appears to be this idea that everything on the internet is/should be free. “It’s all information. Information belongs to the masses and should be free.” I don’t understand or know where this concept came from, but the lack of logic behind it is absurd. Information has always been available but it has never been free. Before the age of the internet, television and radio was the major form of entertainment and information. Unless you were watching/listening to Public Access, advertisements were usually paying for what you were viewing. Before television/radio, people relied on books. These books, unless you bought them, were available for ‘free’ at your local library. Guess what? These libraries, and their contents, were paid for by donations, taxes, drives, etc. Sensing a pattern?
Information/entertainment has never been free. It has always cost something to create it. Perhaps it did not cost you, the consumer, directly but it still required some cost to come into fruition. This is what I find frustrating about these conversations about compensation and advertisements, in particular, going on concerning online viewing. There is a sense of entitlement as though people are deserving of what they view/stream and are annoyed/perplexed that the creators would allow advertisements on their content. I am not talking about random cat videos or idiots harming themselves because frankly no one should be paid for that. I am referring to individuals that actually take the time and effort to at least attempt to make something of quality. Creating such things is not cheap and the people involved deserve some compensation for their efforts.
This should be pretty self explanatory. I mean, if someone even slightly aided in building an edifice, they are compensated for their work. Yet, maybe that is the true crux of the issue. Artistic/creative work has rarely been appreciate or valued beyond the few exalted ones and within select circles. While people are entertained or inspired by the art they hear, see, taste, there is seemingly a sense among the public that it is ultimately a ‘hobby’ and not actual work. I understand this idea to some degree since there is often little physical labor involved and not much of an end result for the hours of labor and effort. However, artistic creations are work. They may not be as noticeable or require the same type of labor as other jobs, but they are work and are no less deserving of compensation. Whether that is through direct payment from the customers/consumers, advertisements, banners on the side of a page, etc. is up to whoever created what you are enjoying.
I don’t know if I will ever have the drive, talent, opportunity, or balls (metaphorically speaking) to ever publish one of my stories. I hope to someday have that privilege and if that day ever comes I would like to make something from it. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy writing and the act of creating people and worlds and narratives and will continue to do so, but at the end of the day a guy’s gotta eat right?
The Sentry Gathers…