[Originally published March 4, 2014.]
Me? Oh, I’m just a normal guy. 38. Average height, average weight. Loves animals. Enjoys casseroles. But where I go to work each day just might surprise you…
Sorry. Didn’t mean to do that. It’s one of the risks of the trade, I guess. I write headlines for Upworthy.
People ask me how I got here, but the job just kind of came naturally. I remember in kindergarten, during show and tell, all the other kids whipped out their action figures, but what’s the fun of that? Where’s the showmanship? See, I made sure I had everyone’s attention first. I’d start with a grabber: “Who here hates homework?” or “Does anyone here like Star Wars?” Y’know, something everyone feels the same way about. Then I’d be like, “Well, I brought something from home, and I think you’ll really enjoy it!” And then I’d take out a spatula or some Band-Aids, whatever I could find, because neither toys nor joy were allowed in my home. Often, one of the bigger kids, feeling tricked, would find me at recess and beat the stuffing out of me, but it was too late by then. The lesson had been learned: silly promises get you noticed.
That carried over to dating, but with mixed results. I’d go up to a girl at a keg party and narrate my experiences in the third person: “Horny college student sees stunning girl at keg party. You won’t believe what he does next.” That would usually get her attention, but then I’d just say hi or something. There’d be a lot of confusion about why I thought she wouldn’t believe I’d say hi, and I’d have a hard time explaining. Personally, I think that sort of misses the point, which is that she was interested in what I was going to say. I mean, until I said it, but still. Whatever. It still worked better than my other lead-in: “I’m going to drop my pants. What happens next might be the most inspiring thing you’ve seen all month.”
I didn’t get into internet publishing right away. After school, I sold insurance for a spell, but that didn’t work out. Apparently, it’s not enough to sell a policy. The policy you sell actually has to provide for the things the policyholder expects. Personally, the whole thing seems a little pedantic to me. But the point is, if some dude asks, “Will this cover me in case of flood?” and I reply, "Sign right here—when the flood waters hit, you’ll see how Allstate responds,” that’s misleading. No wait, what did the state’s attorney general call it? Oh, right. “Fraud.” That’s fraud. Whatever. I’ve seen California’s consumer fraud statutes online. Let me ask you this: how many hits does that site get a day?
So yeah, I work at Upworthy, watching content, selecting content, and, most importantly, titling content. My ex-wife used to say I took my work home with me, but in my line of work you have to stay sharp. I’m not the kind of husband who’s gonna say, “Honey, you wanna order a pizza?” No, instead I’ll jump out with, “You’ll never guess what this husband does after feeling a hunger pain.” And if she’s not delighted by me following up with, “He ordered a pizza. I mean, I ordered a pizza. We’re getting pizza. Feel like pizza?”—then I’m sorry, I can’t help her. Let her marry an editor for Slate or something.
I guess it all came crashing down the last time we made love. I was doing all my best tricks (not to brag, but I’m pretty good at figuring out what people like), and she was close to climaxing. And guess what she did? She said, “Oh, I’m going to come.” And then she climaxed. Just like she said she was going to. Where’s the excitement in that? That was it for us.
Oh, she also said something about me actually doing something with my life instead of just, y’know, click-baiting what others have done. But, like, what? Write something? Who would be interested in that?
Wait. Let me fix that: “Upworthy Editor Actually Writes Something and You Won’t Believe Who Takes Notice!”
Wayne Gladstone’s novel
Notes from the Internet Apocalypse
is available in all bookstores.