When Blogging Becomes Panhandling

Friday, May 19, 2006

Originally published: Thursday, January 26, 2006

There's a sucker born every minute. And a lot of them read blogs, apparently.

I've always been suspicious of panhandlers. There was a guy I used to encounter while I was waiting for the bus out of Port Authority. He had a good rap. He would announce to the captive audience of commuters that he'd lost his wallet and needed enough for bus fare to get home. He lost his wallet a lot. About once a week he'd hit up my bus line. I expect other days he'd tell his story in other terminals. What always amazed me was that there were always people willing to "help him out."

Today Booman Tribune and Daily Kos readers were hit up by an aggressive panhandler. Someone called soj posted a diary on both sites entitled "I Need Your Help." I'm a little familiar with this guy, having glanced at his blog once or twice. I never cared for it. It's long on words, short on content. Kind of like today's 2000+ word diary, which could be reduced to a pretty simple idea. Here's the Reader's Digest version: "Send money."

I glanced at soj's blog, Flogging the Simian. He's cleaned it up a bit since I last looked at it, but then, that was some time ago. Gone was the pouty image of what appeared to a be a "barely legal," Slavic girl. The site sports a fresh, new look with more taste, less jail bait.

It also has a spinning dollar sign with text that reads:

This blogger is 100% dependent on reader donations. If you like what you read, please donate today!

So what's wrong with taking donations to support a website? On the face of it, nothing. Many content sites are supported by donations, ad revenue, and partnerships with retail sites. Nothing wrong with providing products and services and receiving some remuneration. But, soj isn't simply providing a service, his blogging, and occasionally seeking donations to keep it afloat. Soj asks readers to keep him afloat. That's what makes him a panhandler, not a professional writer. "I Need Your Help" is a masturbatory autobiography -- his blog is called "Flogging the Simian" after all -- the money shot of which is a plea for enough money to pay his rent and bills. Who told soj to quit his day-job and move to Romania where he thought he could survive on blogging revenue? For that matter, how do we know he's really in Romania, and not living in his mother's basement somewhere in the good old US of A? Why does his dream deserve our indulgence more than the many artists, writers, and performers who wait tables and work crappy temp jobs?

If soj wants to market his writing as a commodity, he should do so, rather than emotionally blackmailing his readers with stories of cold Romanian winters. It's called begging and, from a person with a roof over his head and the freedom to make other choices, it's just crass. Soj is not a charity, but today he made reading Daily Kos and Booman Tribune feel like a subway car with one of those phony Vietnam vets, pleading for "food" money. If this isn't a panhandler's rap, I don't know what is.

Even a dollar would be great as I really am desperate.

If I want to support the needy with my reading dollars, I'll buy Street News. The writing is much tighter and I have a better idea of where the money is going.


Curmudgette said...

Restored comment

yiasemi said...

You are right to be a tad suspicious of Soj. I'm glad you call him a he. Samuel Eddy Reames aka sojosoniq who used to be a clerk for Macon, Georgia police. I posted the evidence a few times on Kos but duped ostriches enjoy burying their heads. He registered his various porno, dating and political blogs under his own name..
He even posted his details on dating agencies.
The man is a fantasist who could easily earn a living as an English teacher. I have been earning a high middle income salary for years that way. He did live in Cluj, Romania btw,until a few months ago at least. Addresses are no secret anymore sadly.

Curmudgette said...

Restored comment

Cao said...

Thanks for the intel