The Internet Needs More Anti-Heroes
And Why I'm Starting This Newsletter
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An anti-hero (or anti-heroine) is the main character in a story who, though a hero, lacks conventional heroic qualities such as morality, idealism, and self-conviction. Sometimes anti-heroes may perform acts that are morally correct, but not always for the right reasons, and often do so in self-interest or in ways that defy what most of us would consider "ethical". (1)
Deadpool is my favorite depiction of an anti-hero. Not just because Ryan Reynolds is every guy's man-crush, but because he's the black sheep of the X-Men family. The "Merc with a Mouth" is an unkillable, annoying badass on the outside, but he's a needy, neurotic, self-loathing man on the inside.
Photo by Daniel Leżuch on Unsplash
He's more human and relatable than someone like Superman, who most would consider the Gold Standard of ethics and morality. Superman is more or less "perfect", whereas Deadpool is not. His flaws are more than just a green, crystalline material that can only be mined from Krypton — they're his emotions and often irrational behavior.
What makes Deadpool...Deadpool is that while other superheroes refuse to kill the bad guys (a concept I always found ridiculous considering their line of work), he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty and do what his colleagues won't. He may not be the shining star of superheroes, but he makes you think twice and at the very least wonder, "what if the status quo were different?"
That brings me to the point of this newsletter and why I've decided to start something new. Part-Time Writing is what I'm calling an anti-blog for workaholics and the people out there who try to ruin writing.
Let's first break down the workaholics piece. I don't believe people should be defined by their line of work. Yeah, I'm a full-time engineer, but if you ask my family, friends, or even co-workers who Jason Gutierrez is? They'll tell you I'm a genuine, light-hearted guy who's smart as a whip but also kind of an idiot. They'd probably mention that I love video games, spending time with loved ones, and sweating my d*** off in the gym.
Engineering is just what I do to make a living, and while it's a part of me, it's not the whole of me. Same goes for my writing. There was a time when I wanted nothing more than to quit engineering to become a full-time writer. I even tried it once just to see what it was like, leaving a job where I was making $130,000 per year to chase that dream. But you know what? I actually fucking hated it.
Don't get me wrong, I love writing and likely always will. But writing to earn a living is WAY different than writing for fun or passion. It slowly kills your creativity and forces you to write for clicks and views. That's why I ultimately ended up back in engineering and doing this writing thing for fun, on the side.
I definitely struggled for a bit to find myself as a "part-time writer". For a while, I still felt like I needed to take it seriously — to write every day without fail. But as time went on, even though I was just writing on the side, it still felt like full-time work, and it sure as hell took up a lot of headspace thinking about it.
Honestly? I'm over it. Too much of this life is spent working and not enough of it is spent enjoying it. I'm an engineer and also kind of a writer, but first and foremost I'm a human who enjoys all sorts of other things in life.
This newsletter is called Part-Time Writing because that's exactly what it is. It's a detailed account of my work as a part-time writer. Many times I'll write about writing, work-life balance, or something along those lines. But as I said, I enjoy so much more than that, which is why you can and should expect anything.
Ideally, I'd like to publish one of these every week, sometimes more. But there are going to be times when I don't publish for a couple of weeks. That's just because I'm busy doing other things or because I fail to write something I feel worthy of publishing. That's Part-Time Writing at its core.
Now for the second piece — "the people out there who try to ruin writing."
It's no secret that the internet and electronics are rapidly destroying our attention spans. One study back in 2013 even suggested that human attention spans had decreased, on average, down to 8 seconds, lower than that of a goldfish (about 9 seconds) (2). We scroll through our feeds hunting for little shots of dopamine wherever we can get them. When one app gets boring, we move on to the next. I've personally got a 4-app cycle where I start with Discord, then Gmail, then Twitter, and finally Reddit.Most of the time I'm disgusted with myself for the way I browse the internet and my phone. It's nauseating. But even still, I suspect I'm on the lower end of the spectrum for how much time I waste (at least in the US and other developed countries) mindlessly scrolling.
At any rate, the nature and speed at which we consume content have become voracious. The "writers" of the internet world know this, and they've all evolved in the exact same way in order to win your attention. This is why clickbait has become the norm. You've only got a few seconds to pique a reader's interest, which is insanely hard to do without turning to the Darkside.
After you've "earned" their interest, it's even harder to hold their attention long enough to read what you have to say. You apparently have a better chance at keeping a goldfish entertained than a grown-ass adult. It's no wonder that writing online has become more of a scientific equation and less a form of art. Which kinda sucks, but is totally true.
I've tried my hand at writing in this way. It's definitely easier, and the results speak for themselves, but at what cost? I felt like I was losing my humanity trying to fight for clicks and attention. If a computer or algorithm could do what I was doing, then why even bother? This is where the online writing world has turned, and it's a travesty.
It's human nature to want to control things. To work in straight lines. You can always tell where humanity has left its mark because the structure is precise and rigid, whereas nature (like art) does as it pleases. Writing is meant to be an art form, a means for expression and exploration, not another scientific equation for humans to manipulate. If writing as a whole just turns into a repeatable equation for profit, then we've all lost.
To me, the internet needs more anti-heroes that are willing to go against the status quo. I'm sick of reading and writing the same old shit as everybody else, which is why I'm starting this anti-blog / newsletter. I'm fortunate enough to have all my bases covered and bills paid by my full-time job. As such, I don't need writing to do anything for me financially. That means I can write what I want, when I want, without feeling pressured to be someone I'm not.
I do this because writing is fun, helps me learn, and is a great tool for self-discovery. I do it because I love it, and being able to do it part-time is what makes it so awesome for me. Let's make the internet a better place together.