I imagine it’s nice when your profession provides you with skills that augment your everyday social life.  When you’re a chef, you host dinner parties and everyone loves you.  When you’re a doctor you can hand out free diagnoses or resuscitate an ailing stranger.  Even being a barber could help you make instant friends.  As journalists, we have no such bonus.  We bring absolutely nothing to the table.

A journalist is a parasite.  A pest.  We’re inquisitive, we can get a conversation going, but in the end we’re mostly just annoying and often a liability.  Who wants to hang out with someone who’s always on the job, always looking for stories, taking notes, recording every word?  Of all the writers in the world, journalists have to be the least fun. What makes this sting all the more is that if we were fiction writers or poets, we might be a little more entertaining.  We could provide witty quotes, or compose a couplet on the spot.  But as journalists we can’t even get our friends in the paper without treading on very thin ethical ice.

This is not to say that all journalists are no fun to hang with.  Some of us have perfected another skill to make ourselves more engaging—like music or a knack for creative cocktails—so in social settings we stick together.  We delight in little things, like correcting our friends’ grammar (Slow-ly. She’s moving slowly. Not slow) or providing bits of knowledge that don’t fit our profession, like knowing what an electrolyte is.  So, to the rest of the professional world: if we get over-excited when we find spelling mistakes in the classifieds section, don’t think too badly of us.  We have nothing else; we need these moments to stay sane.  And let me remind you all that you don’t want to be on our bad side.  Someone really smart once said that the pen trumps the sword. We’ve got ink, and once we get jobs, we won’t be afraid to use it.

Advertisements