Alexander Hellene

Online Spiciness

By Alexander Hellene

It’s fun to troll. It’s fun to mock those who deserve it. The Internet has provided ample opportunity on this score. But it can also be counterproductive.

From a marketing perspective, it’s a double-edged sword. The notoriety of being that guy, the poison pen, the jester poking his finger in the eye of the establishment, can help get attention and sell. It can also be counterproductive. What if you’re known for nothing except stirring up controversy? What if it’s off-putting to the normal people—concerns about vanguardism aside—that you’re actually hoping will fork over money to purchase something you produced?

What then?

What if spicy content gets you removed from platforms that are vital to your business?

Even if you’re not in the artistic field to make a career out of it, you still want an audience beyond a tiny niche of Internet types, right? Money is always welcome, but so is just getting your work into the hands of people to read, to watch, to listen to.

How many actors have soured audience goodwill on ill-advised crusades against the same people who they want to buy tickets to their new movie?

How many YouTubers are stuck in the bitch-and-moan economy, forever feeding the beast they claim to want to starve?

How many up-and-coming writers with tons of potential lose it all by getting slapped with permabans thanks to some, shall we say, poor word choice?

Is this fair? No. In a perfect world, you can say whatever you want and not have the authorities come down hard on you. But it’s not a perfect world, it never was, and it never will be. At the end of they day, if you’re trying to influence culture, you need to be smart about it. Be strategic. Only pick fights you think you can win and that will further your goals.

This is my sixty-ninth post, by the way. Huh-huh. How’s that for spicy (immature)?

I contend that immature humor always has a time and a place. So does spiciness (if you don’t know what I mean by this term, look it up). Maturity comes in knowing when and how to deploy it.

The spice must flow . . .

Yes, this comes across as cold and calculating. But when you have a strategy—influence the culture and get your work into the hands of people who might be receptive to your message—you have to be tactical about your methods.

This isn’t directed at any one individual in particular, so if you think it’s about you, then I guess it probably is, so go cry about it. It’s directed at anyone in the independent cultural sphere. In our world where what you say behind the cover of a screen can have real-world consequences, a bit of circumspection is warranted.

Yeah, and a little fear as well.

Until the truly alternative ecosystem can achieve the same results as the mainstream platforms, you sort of do need to go where the people are and stay there for as long as possible.

I want to read your stuff. To pitch in to crowdfunding campaigns. To listen to your music. To see your works of art. I want to be able to find you, and for you to find me so I can be aware of what you’re contributing to the cultural landscape. It’s hard to do that when spicy content gets you scrubbed from the World Wide Web that so many of us call home.

And besides, happy warriors are successful warriors who will attract a flock of the like-minded as well as the unfairly derided normies who represent the largest segment of the population. It’s hard to give them what they don’t even know they want if you’re not even there at all.

So file this under business advice if you want.

There’s a libertarian-ish idea that if you’ve never been banned from anything, you’ve never said anything interesting. I strongly disagree with that sentiment. It’s like saying unless you’ve run across a stage naked at what’s supposed to be a serious political alternative, you’re just a boring schmuck who deserves the slop that’s given to you.

Wrong.

Everyone loves a winner. So be a winner. 

– Alexander


Winners read awesome books. Check out my awesome book for winners, The Last Ancestor, here!

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