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A Brain Pickings project edited by Maria Popova in partnership with Noodle.
Twitter: @explorer
Thanks very much for your compliments on my [writing/illustration/whatever thing you do]. I’m flattered by your invitation to [do whatever it is they want you to do for nothing]. But [thing you do] is work, it takes time, it’s how I make my living, and in this economy I can’t afford to do it for free. I’m sorry to decline, but thanks again, sincerely, for your kind words about my work.

At the end of his must-read New York Times op-ed on why we shouldn’t devalue our work by indulging all the requests to give it away for free (so that it can be sold for advertising), Tim Kreider, author of We Learn Nothing, offers this perfect reply-template for responding to such requests respectfully but resolutely.

He adds an infinitely necessary note on how referring to creative work as “content” commodifies it and exposes the greatest tragedy of mainstream media – the vendorship of advertising for which all else is a mere vehicle:

This is partly a side effect of our information economy, in which “paying for things” is a quaint, discredited old 20th-century custom, like calling people after having sex with them. The first time I ever heard the word “content” used in its current context, I understood that all my artist friends and I — henceforth, “content providers” — were essentially extinct. This contemptuous coinage is predicated on the assumption that it’s the delivery system that matters, relegating what used to be called “art” — writing, music, film, photography, illustration — to the status of filler, stuff to stick between banner ads.

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