I was so pissed when Pinterest took off.
I thought I was a food blogger or mommy blogger at the time, and I just wanted to write. But no. We had to have engaging images with pinnable content.
That wasn't when I stopped blogging, but it was when I stopped enjoying it.
Meanwhile colleagues went on to become social media marketing rockstars and "Pinterest marketer" became a whole thing.
For a long time, I held onto the story that Pinterest ruined blogging.
I halfway believed the idea that blogging might be dead.
But now that I've played with AI for a week or two and got all of my "here's what I don't care about it ruining" ranting out of my system, I see things differently.
Pinterest didn't ruin food blogging or mommy blogging. It showed me that I was in the wrong niche for the wrong reasons. I was pretending to be something I wasn't.
I wanted to "just write," but I completely resisted the idea that I was a writer or that books were a viable option for me. For whatever reason, I was attached to the idea of blogging as my medium of choice and anything that disrupted my perspective of that medium was the problem.
Now, I'm watching people get antsy about how AI can "do what we do" as writers and it makes me wonder—what is it that "we've" been doing, actually? I'm feeling a lot like those friends who were excited when Pinterest happened, because it was a new tool that helped them get their work seen in a way that felt like exploration and play. My problem wasn't Pinterest (though I still have big feelings about algorithms). My problem was being in the wrong place.
The work didn't feel like mine. It felt like work. Not because the messaging was wrong or because I wasn't flowing or because I didn't need to be writing. I was just in the wrong space, on the wrong platform, using the wrong medium. So when a tool came around to make that medium more efficient for people who loved it, I felt like I had to DO MORE. Be more. Act more.
Today, I have zero anxiety about AI writing anything, including books, because I see writing as a communication of a perspective. Even if ChatGPT or whatever else reaches the point of total sentience and writes beautiful prose and moving content, that will still be a communication of a perspective—one perspective.
AI cannot make you irrelevant any more than a human becoming a best seller on your topic can make you irrelevant.
We lose nothing by someone else sharing their perspective.
Meanwhile, AI is shortcutting brainstorming, market analysis, keyword generation, planning, and all of aspects of the writing business that most of us who want to write find tedious. That means we not only have nothing to lose—we have a lot of potential gain sitting on the other side of...::gestures to all of this:::
We lose nothing by someone else sharing their perspective if we are writing to communicate our uniquely human perspective.
If you are writing to feed the SEO coffers or hoard low-paying ghostwriting contracts or convince someone you are the only source of literally anything...
If you are forcing yourself into a medium or niche that feels like shit but you think it's where you're supposed to be...
Then yeah, I guess you might have cause to worry. Not because you need to keep that thing you're holding onto. And definitely not because writing is at risk of dying. But if a machine can replace you, then you've been pretending to be a machine. And that's not sustainable.
Kitchen and lifestyle writers are still alive and well, and the thing I hated helped get them there. Years from now, whatever is happening in this AI boom will have ruined something for someone. But not for anyone trying to make genuine connections.
We're way too human for that.
Want to keep the conversation going? Grab your spot for the May 2023 webinar series, all about ChatGPT for writers.