Online Lives: 'Social media can be positive' - HeadStuff's Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett

Writer Alan Bennett started HeadStuff.org in 2014. He describes it as a website for “good writing”.

“I run a website where we publish good writing from a wide variety of people. What I like about it is the platform, it gives us a voice and allows people to hear it.

“We can write something and have it read or listened to by thousands of people — that would have been very difficult 20 years ago.”

The website touches upon a range of topics, including entertainment, history, literature and food.

“We like good, honest writing about pretty much anything,” he says.

Alan himself has a varied background which lends itself well to establishing a site such as HeadStuff.org.

I studied fine art painting in Limerick School of Art and Design, then did a masters in creative writing in UCD.

“I performed stand-up comedy a lot between 2005 and 2011 or so, did fairly well at that in some competitions and tours, but then decided to focus on writing.”

One of the areas Alan found challenging was making the site self-sustainable.

“It’s really hard to make money from it, and most importantly to pay people who work with me. My goal since day one has been to pay creatives and be a place where creative people can make a more than fair amount of money for plying their trade.

“We’ll get there someday, but it’s been a long road. We’re making enough money now to survive and to pay our full-time workers, so that feels like an achievement and something to celebrate.”

Alan believes it is important to support independent publications such as HeadStuff.

“All independent websites, podcasts, magazines etc. need support. They are important. Journalism is important and needs to be supported and defended in the strongest terms.”

He said he welcomes debate but he is critical of those who “tear apart” others online.

“Don’t be tearing people apart for being slightly wrong, or expressing an opinion that differs from yours. Engage with them in conversation and either educate them or learn from them, find a middle ground, or move on.

Don’t use social media to silence people, it should be the opposite of that.

He believes more needs to be done to educate the public on the misuse of social media.

“I think social media, in particular, is extremely powerful and can be very positive, but can also be used as a force for terrible evil. I think we need to proceed with caution, we need to educate the masses about the uses and misuses of social.”

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