How (and Why) to KISSASS—Keep It Short, Sad, And Simple, Stupid, by Kevin Mins.
It’s all right for successful, college-educated professionals like Lara Bazelon, Jeff Bercovici, Meghan Daum, and others to write about how much joy their working lives bring them. The people who edit the publications in which such articles appear are themselves college-educated professionals. They too probably enjoy their upper-middle-class lives. To my knowledge, when Bercovici wrote positively about his happy experience as a Forbes staff writer, no one accused him of sucking up to Steve Forbes, the magazine’s owner and publisher and a man whose net worth is estimated to be north of $400 million. When Meghan Daum enthuses about her work at Columbia University, no one accuses her of shilling for an institution with an endowment of more than $10 billion. Lara Bazelon has written for the Washington Post, which, like Amazon.com, is owned by Jeff Bezos. But as for as I know, no one has accused her of shilling for him.
But for working-class people, the rules are different. All those upper-middle-class professionals who edit the nation’s most prominent publications permit only one narrative when it comes to the toiling masses. Their lives are nasty, brutish, and short, and must always be portrayed as such. To publish a story about a person who enjoys working at Wal-Mart or Starbucks or Georgia Pacific or Amazon is considered tantamount to white-washing the horrific crimes (whatever those may be) of oligarchs such as the Walton family, Howard Schultz, the Koch brothers, or Bezos.
If you read about a working stiff in the pages of the New York Times, you’re almost certain to find it a downbeat experience. The working class in America are burdened with long hours of hard work for miserable pay. Which is why they are all so angry all the time. Or hooked on anti-anxiety medication. It’s why they are prime targets for populist nationalists like Trump. That, at least, is the conventional wisdom. This type of journalism becomes a self-replicating phenomenon.
So that when a publication does run a rare story in which a working-class lunkhead claims to actually like working for Amazon, and claims to actually enjoy his life, the mainstream media treat it as a kind of betrayal. So, if you don’t have a professional degree and you hope to sell freelance personal essays to prestigious publications, take my advice and KISSASS.
Shaping your view of the world for fun and profit.