Last week, I wrote an article that had more 94,000 views in a short space of time on Medium. Like always, I have no idea why and that’s the magic of Medium’s platform and the writers who use it.
Something was wrong when I saw a “1” next to the unlisted icon on my stories dashboard. All my stories are listed, so this was strange.
I definitely didn’t unlist the story, so I fired off a few emails to figure out what was going on. This reply came back:
“Medium flagged the cover image as inappropriate.”
I went back and looked at the cover image to see if I could see what the Medium Team saw.
The picture I originally chose off Unsplash in a matter of minutes was a silhouette of a woman late at night near a beach. Her butt was in the air and upon taking a second look, it did look like she might be naked and in a sexual position. My initial screening of the image didn’t reveal this to me.
Now she was, in fact, not naked and a site like Unsplash doesn’t publish nude or images of a sexual nature — again, that’s beside the point.
The internet is littered with sexualized content
If you explore apps like Instagram and sites like Youtube, you’ll quickly see how much of the content is of a somewhat sexual nature.
Sex sells, especially on the internet.
By taking my story down, Medium did something that was far more important than my fragile ego: they showed us what they don’t want the platform to become. Medium is trying to be different and avoid the perils of some of the other platforms.
They stand for humanity without racism, a fair go, opinions that matter, the power of a story, and the right for content to be sorted by usefulness rather than clickbait and social media hacks. You can’t hack Medium (the only hack is to write every day and get better).
Having my story taken down by Medium was an excellent reminder of the writer I never want to become. One that sells out, and promotes sexualized content the way the porn industry has while degrading humanity in the process.
A Modern-Day Dilemma
The internet was born on porn.
With the invention of the internet, came quick and easy access to content that was sexual. It was innovative in the 90s and by the 2000s, it was exhausting to be a human being and be surrounded by porn in every pocket of the internet you explored.
The internet birthed a new generation of boys that had easy access to porn and became addicted to it without even knowing.
When social media platforms gained traction, sexualized content took on a new meaning. You could show more skin than was previously normal as long as you didn’t commit the ultimate sin: show your nipples and free them.
If you take a quick look at this year’s top-performing content on Youtube and Instagram, as an example, you’ll see how sexualized content is still dominating — just in a less pornographic form and without the dirty talk.
It’s hard to be different when the culture is ingrained in us
Medium is trying to go against the culture and that’s one of the reasons I spend a stupid amount of time on the platform.
Its creator, Ev, and the team are trying very hard to do something new and create new categories for both writers and readers that never existed before.
Both writers and readers have been abused for years the way sex workers in porn have been. They’re trying hard to do something different and create a different world for us to learn, grow, talk and observe humanity.
Our thought patterns are hard to change and our tilt towards subconsciously liking sexualized content is hard to change. But Medium is trying and you have got to respect that whether you agree with their philosophy or not.
Think twice when you select your images. Ask yourself this question:
How does the image you select support your story and the ideals you stand for?
Every selection you make in your story says something about you and what you’re trying to say. Choosing an image with a bit of side boob, a touch of butt cheek, or the crutch of a well-endowed man could be sending out the wrong message.
Your stories can be awesome and make people feel something without the sexualized images that deliver discreet innuendo’s. That’s the lesson I learned this week thanks to Medium.