Those who know me know that I absolutely cannot lie. It is a combination of just being plain bad at it, and also a thing I have where lying really rubs those moral fibers in an uncomfortable direction. This is something that comes into play quite often in the writing world.
All you have to do is take part in a writing job for a few weeks or months before someone asks you to outright lie. Maybe they want you to write some fake testimonials about a product you never used. Or, they want you to pretend to suffer with a devastating health problem so that you can write an E-Book that will really be a hit. Maybe they have some software and they want to populate their site with fake reviews to make the product look wonderful.
Then you start realizing that half the stuff out there is full of the same lies you were asked to write. Fake reviews, fake testimonials, fake problems of e-book authors. People are getting paid to lie, and some suckers out there really fall for it.
No matter what your job is, chances are that sometimes, you have to do something that you are at least slightly morally opposed to. This can be funny in some cases, where you know that it doesn’t matter. In other cases, this can be a very hard thing to put up with. So how do you work with this?
I had a client once who wanted me to propose that a weight-loss herb was good for people. I did the research and found that some people actually have died from taking this particular plant. Not many people, but a few. I could not, in my right mind, write anything that would potentially lead to someone thinking it was a good idea to take these pills. I could have refused the assignment, but then the next person may have written about how fabulous these pills are without doing any research. I decided to find a morally appropriate medium. I emphasized the fact that the FDA has stopped allowing the sale of the pills in America, and mentioned that they might work a little bit, as long as you weren’t one of the people who ended up dying. Since the people who died most likely did so from dehydration, I emphasized the importance of drinking water in order to keep yourself alive. The client wasn’t upset, and I was able to keep my moral fibers unruffled.
I have found that the main way to make my work fulfilling is to include information in the article that will be useful to someone, no matter what. Maybe I know that the site I am linking to is a little sketchy, but I can make the articles about how to make sure you know how to identify a sketchy site. Maybe I think the product is a waste of money; then I can write about how to find even better products or how to identify the stupid ones. In the end, it is up to the reader to make their potentially ridiculous choices. It is up to me to make sure that they have the information they need in order to do so.
There are countless ways that you can utilize your position, whatever it may be, to try and do some good for the world. Even if you have to do some things you don’t love in order to get food in your dog’s bowl, you can find ways of sneaking in some altruism so that you feel satisfied at the end of the day.