Doing the right thing vs doing the popular thing
I've been publishing online for over four years now.
I would like to be able to tell you it gets easier the more I do it.
But it actually gets harder.
One website I run has a massive audience, a lot of advertisers, and a dedicated following who rely on it to spread or receive information.
I was sent some content recently focused on a problem there that has been growing. I know this, because I have experienced it first hand.
But there is a massive element in the community who don't want these incidents made public. They would rather they not get talked about, because it could affect their incomes or property prices.
But each day, more and more people were sending me in reports of assaults, abuse and more. I realised after a while that I had become a part of the establishment. I rely on local advertisers and wealthy business people to pay my wage. And if I post this content, they'd be pissed.
I did nothing. I hit archive on the video I was sent.
Then I got more stuff sent in. And more. More people complaining. Tourists abused. Women assaulted. Old people losing their ability to visit certain places due to "anti-social behaviour".
But no one in the media was saying or doing anything.
Each night I would go to sleep knowing that I probably should have posted something by now, but I didn't have the courage. Shit would hit the fan if I did, because I have such a large audience in that town.
But then one morning I awoke with my conscience finally having gotten the better of me.
I started the website in the first place to be different. I didn't care what people thought. I published what was ACTUALLY happening, not what was palatable to the establishment. But four years and the desire for more money had moulded me, and I had learned to juggle the competing agendas in town for my own benefit.
I couldn't do it any more.
I decided that if I lost every advertiser and had to go clean toilets (again) for a living, then I would gladly do it, if that meant I had done what I saw as the right thing.
I hit publish.
The phone rang. I didn't answer it.
The video was popular. The television stations also ran it.
I look on Facebook tonight and someone is abusing me for "ruining their town". They're not upset at the crime. They're just upset that people know about the crime.
There is a large effort to cover up the town's problems, not actually fix them. I've been dealing with it for years now. In that time I've learned that nothing gets addressed unless there's noise made.
So now do I feel great because I did the what I thought was the right thing? Nope. I still feel shit. I hate it when people hate me. I hate being sworn at and abused. I hate being told things about myself that aren't true.
I feel rubbish.
I see a lot of things each day that none of those people abusing me get to see. I have to make decisions without getting 50,000 people's permission. No one else sees what I decide not to publish.
But I also had a lot of people agree with my decision. More than disagreed actually. Lots more. I guess it's human nature to just notice the negative feedback more.
Even though I feel rubbish, I feel free. I know that my job is to do the right thing no matter what it's going to cost me. I don't need to explain myself to all those who have contacted me. And I haven't responded to any of them. I know there's no point. While I feared business would take a nose dive, the opposite has happened. (Some) people trust me more now.
If you're at a crossroad where you know doing the right thing is going to be hard, I can't promise you that you'll be better off if you do it. Chances are it will cost you.
You just have to do it anyway.