The Case Against “Fluff” Pieces on WordPress

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I might safely estimate that well over 80% of the material I have read on WordPress is what we writers might call “fluff” pieces. A “fluff piece” is a news story or pieces of writing which are essentially feel good op-eds.  The writing is meant to be cute, funny, or something like that. For example, if a writer does a story about kittens, it is a “fluff piece”.  Stories about kittens are essentially unimportant (oh, I can hear the hate mail churning!) The writer chose to write about kittens, not because it was important, but because it is cute and may help his/her viewer stats.

Fluff may take on numerous guises.  Aforementioned kittens?  Fluff.  Family travel logs?  Fluff.  Best make-up products on the market?  Fluff.  But to me,  the most offending piece of fluff on the WordPress market today are the countless stories that try desperately to convince the reader that the universe we live in; the planet we inhabit; the relationships we take shelter in – all of these somehow rotate within and upon some essentially pleasing spindle they call “goodness.”  Mostly, this goodness online is ego-defined as some omnipresent benefactor lovingly watching over us, raining upon our precious little heads measures of good fortune, benevolence, and unconditional love.  Yeah…fluff!

You have to travel far and wide into the ether of WordPress to hear an opposing viewpoint to this endless vomiting of “goodness.”  While the writer of such pieces may feel justified because he or she just can’t contain the fact that something made them happy, they have to purposefully put on blinders so as not to disturb their nirvana with snapshots of the truth.  The world is not essentially “good.”  Fluff is fleeting.

More than 5/8ths of the world’s population live in impoverished and violent conditions, whether that violence is nature driven or man-made.  To them, this vaporous concept of “life is good” is like a fleeting but violent wind that passes over them and cuts them sharply to the bone.  They are as aware of the “goodness” showered upon the fortunate few as we are willfully ignorant of their pain and suffering.

If you are fortunate enough to own a computer and have the luxury of spending your free time posting online, chances are these people live in the periphery of your vision.  You only glimpse them briefly on sensationalized news channels that can be quickly turned over to a “fluff” program like American Idol.  It just “feels better” not to notice.  Don’t lie…we have all been guilty of looking away to ease our conscience.

Yet there they are…the majority of the earth’s population starving, dying of treatable disease, buried to their necks in the fire-ant-ridden blazing sands of poverty and violence as the majority of us munch away on cheese-laden nachos while watching the Super Bowl.  It just feels better not to notice.  We need the “fluff” in our lives with which to stuff our ears and block out the infernal screams of our dying brothers and sisters.   By the way, if the term “brothers and sisters” offend, I’ve made my case.

You need proof?  Admit it.  Most of those who started reading this post have surfed to another WordPress freshly-pressed site about kittens, or dating advice, or how-to-be happy sites because, well…it simply “feels better.”  We need our goodness fix.  We need our fluff.  The only people who will read this through to the end are the artists and poets who understand that life is anything but benevolent and “good.”  They recognize, in their works, the crush of human apathy and indifference toward the brutal suffering of the “least” of our brethren.  They know because they don’t run from suffering…they run toward it.  Not to shun it, but to embrace it and evolve as human beings.

It appears the editorial staff of WordPress is complicit in the spewing of “fluff” when you consider that poets and artists are freshly-pressed much, much less than the feel-good article writers.  You won’t read this on WordPress because it feels “bad.” It probably isn’t a conscious decision on their part; it’s basic fluff survival 101: who wants to read depressing shit?  It just doesn’t sell!

The artists and poets of WordPress may be less visible, but they are there.  Shame on WordPress for making them enter in the dark and through the back door.  They struggle in vain to instruct a worldview that is ultimately a call to action.  They use their words to scatter the razor-toothed rats that gnaw on the emaciated bones of the poor, the hungry, the murdered masses. Poets and artists know there is goodness out there…they truly do. They see “goodness” descend upon the more fortunate, while the bulk of humanity suffers in despair and agonizing isolation.  They just refuse to wear the blinders.

For myself, I no longer really give a damn about this fleeting goodness. I’ve been shot, stabbed, robbed, and violated in a thousand ways that more than fill one lifetime of despair. And yes, in case you’ve ever read my writing, I have buried my grief and pain in ample cups of amber absolution and beneath the press of fentanyl patches.  I, too, am a coward. If there is goodness in my life, it is only there to mock the other 99.9% of my existence so far. I’m not happy, that is true. But I’d rather spend eternity locked in the pages of Baudelaire and Rimbaud than spend another minute reading about your “kittens.”

Perhaps that’s why most of my postings are poems.  Poetry allows a writer to scream invectives to an unjust, unhearing, apathetic God (who, in my opinion, is the ultimate piece of “fluff)  I’ve seen others (Sandy Hook, Aurora, Iraq, the Sudan comes to mind) who have seen their human potential snuffed out by either extreme violence, (human against human) or natural disaster (famine, floods, disease).  I’ve seen the children of Syria and Libya and Somalia, and, well…spin the globe and press your finger upon it.  It will almost certainly stop at one of these hellholes devoid of human compassion.  The majority of the world’s populations are simply ground to dust by the merciless millstone of life.

I am happy for those of you who believe the illusion that “evil” is the transitory state of humanity and that “good” is the true, permanent human blessing. WordPress appears to exist so that you can dine on a steady diet of “fluff.”  I just don’t see that wide-eyed gorging of “feel good” backed up by facts.  I’ll continue reading your fluff because people like me are more in need of a laugh than just about anybody. I just can’t join you at that particular ”hallelujah” table.  Enjoy the fruits of this “goodness”, but never forget that even more of your brethren have never known such feel-good promise in their lives…and “fluff” just won’t fill distended bellies or bind up the bleeding wounds.

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12 thoughts on “The Case Against “Fluff” Pieces on WordPress

  1. I love that this is a longer piece; thanks for delving more deeply than just a cursory skimming. Reminds me of some of the places I’ve been in Guatemala and the people I met there, the stories I heard, the lives that touched me. Thanks.

  2. “The only people who will read this through to the end are the artists and poets who understand that life is anything but benevolent and “good.” They recognize, in their works, the crush of human apathy” …. Well well well, I am not an artist nor a poet and I read to the end. Please create a category for me! You are making powerful statements and when people sound powerful we tend to be convinced more easily in the veracity of their words. Yes, you are right, we want fluff, but that does not preclude us from caring or helping. We come to the world quite complicated and we are not of only one hue. And BTW, the ability to be joyous and happy has little to do with our circumstances and more to do with our temperament. A very poor child still plays with rocks and stones and has moments of delight.

    Are you sure that you are not just upset about the fact that you don’t have as many readers as the one with the kittens?

    • Rachel, I have 23,656 views and 1,359 followers, so truly, I’m not just a frustrated blogger. But of those that follow, you have always been one of my favorites. I have always respected your viewpoints, and I continue to do so today. I know there are “moments” of joy in everyone’s life. But in my experience, that’s just what they are…”moments.” The remainder is full of conflict, struggle, fear, anxiety, loneliness. For those who are continually in a state of grace and joy…well, I don’t trust that anymore than I trust myself.
      I don’t think my writing is powerful enough to sway people, although if just a few open their eyes and hearts to OUR role in alleviating human suffering where we find it, then fine. I’ll take that. I don’t see myself as a “voice crying out in the wilderness” but I’ve paid dearly in this life to arrive at the point where I am compelled to rattle my chains against pain and suffering. You of all people know that we each have a voice and a point of view. I’m not trying to be snarky as I remind you of the words you shared about yourself, “I am like everyone else, but then I am not. I like to ask questions and I like to challenge our belief systems. I often ask people “why?”, but not more often than I ask myself. Sometimes I like to tell a story without any interpretation or opinion, and at other times I like to express my thoughts about me, you, them and the world.”

      Why would you imagine me to be any different?

      Rest assured that if it wasn’t for the compassionate and caring words I get from you from time to time, I might just as easily slide off into a bottomless abyss. I’m not there yet, so thank you!

      Your friend, Dennis

  3. This has given me so much to think about that I need more time to formulate a considered response. Very thoughtful, powerful piece though Dennis. I plan to come back to you soon.

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