The Lesson I Learned Criticizing Medium

Originally published on Medium.


In the timeframe of 16 months of an active presence on Medium, I’ve seen things.

I lived the romance with Medium, the easiness, the hug of the community, the Top Writers, the mind-blowing positive comments, the strangers that read your stuff and maybe even become friends.

But I also lived the bitter taste of the peanuts from the Medium Partner Program, the hundreds of hours spent to see the hot topics featured by Medium, the effort invested in publications trashed by the competition of Medium itself, all the features stuck at when you first logged in.

After dozens of stories – maybe hundreds – you feel like having written something, but you don’t have a profile page where to feature your work here. Because, for Medium, you’re just a generator of stories.

You now have a small audience, but you don’t even have a page about your work. And you understand that something is wrong, and you start connecting the dots, and you finally see that only a few authors with a special alchemy of terrific effort and lucky conditions can make it. The others, you included, are just uselessly running in the hamster wheel.

While still being heavily invested in Medium, at some point I started to write about my discomfort with a platform which seemed to gear away from the original vision, not listening to the authors while feeding on their efforts.

But, while few people shared my feelings, I noticed for the first time some disagreement. Many writers were still fully in love with Medium.

I felt a bit guilty, because I’m grateful to Medium, but at the same time I didn’t want to stop to be critic, because many writers invested and are investing here. Seeing my critics go against the beliefs of other writers was not expected.

Afterward, I saw that I was not one of the few with bitter feelings about Medium. An increasing number of writers feels now failed by Medium. I’m sure I’m not wrong.

But I’ve also seen that when you go against the beliefs and hopes of your audience, you pay the price.

Nobody wants to be shaken in their beliefs. Most of all they don’t want you to undermine their hopes. Even if you’re right.

You need a strong relationship, to do that, and the relationship with your audience is not strong enough.

Audiences replace writers.

Being authentic has a price. Confronting hopes has an even higher price.

Writers whose disillusioned arguments are appreciated find an audience which is already disillusioned. But if they previously had a content audience, they may disappoint a good part of their readers.

On Medium, most responses to your stories are positive and gratifying. But the moment you criticize Medium, skeptical words magically appear and you feel like having said a blasphemy. In a church.

Maybe, now the trend of disillusion toward Medium is gaining momentum, and my posts will encounter their audience. Or the trend is already reversing. But I learned that I shouldn’t care in any case.

Being authentic has a price. And you shouldn’t limit yourself when your audience doesn’t agree, even if it’s your audience. Because if you limit your voice, one day you’ll find out that you write to please your audience, and not to tell what you feel that needs to be told.

On the contrary, having success because your audience agrees may not tell that you are suddenly a good author. Nor that they will appreciate your next words.

Writers need to sell and to promote themselves. But you should know your limit.

At some point, you’ll have to choose between being a seller or a writer.

If you choose to be a writer, write because of what you feel compelled to put in words, not because of what your audience wants to listen.

You’ll pay a tough price, or you’ll have glory. But none of the two should matter.

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