So my friend, the lawyer and bon vivant who keeps chickens and considers himself to be a renaissance man, insulted me. I told him that he's a good writer, lucid even, but if he wanted his rants to be posted on my blog, he had to cut the diatribe to three paragraphs--max five, if it was good stuff. He snorted derisively. (This is an approximating of our conversation.)
"Blogggggging. Hmph. It's like the new version of the U.S.A. Today. That thing. Bright colors. Short snippets. No one has the attention span to follow a well-thought article anymore. Oh no! [He's really getting warmed up now. His righteous indignation swelling like an infected testicle. That lovely analogy courtesy my husband.] We must have simple words and simple ideas....."
I said, "Oh, here we go."
He blathered on and eventually got to the downfall of modern man. If you must know, we're retarded cretins and civilization won't last long. In fact, it's already dead, it doesn't know it yet. And so on and so forth.
"Well, you're too wordy. And you're funny when talking. Be funnier in your writing. Maybe people will actually read it."
"I can't commit to that," he said.
Receiving the Wall Street Journal every day on my doorstep during college was a beloved ritual infused with significance. I sunk into a chair and learned about the world and that money ran it. The writing was good and I liked the dot illustrations. They were cool. They redesigned the Journal recently and as any good conservative would, I whined about it. I like the old way. Stomp! But really, who gives a crap? I don't read paper newspapers (redundant, I know) any more. I read them online. I scan the headlines and don't even read paragraphs if they don't interest me. However, if they interest me, I read the whole thing and articles associated with the interesting article. So, I'm both less and more informed. No. Scratch that. I'm more informed. The commie propaganda shit I can just skip now. It's delightful.
James Lileks read newspapers recently. He's so retro. And he said:
The papers suck. Pardon the language, but for heaven’s sake, the papers sucked. The papers sucked hard enough to pull Jupiter out of orbit. I had gotten used to the underwhelmingly ordinary Arizona paper, but the LA Times and the San Diego paper were a new level of sucktitudinousness. The SD paper was like a slab of Sominex pounded into thin folded sheets, and I don’t know if it was the lead story – “Sweeping Regulatory Powers Sought,” or something equally deadly – or the cookie-cutter design, but man, that thing was dull; when I finished I felt like I’d put 50 cents into a soda machine, got nothing, and realized I didn’t really want any soda anyway. On to the LA Times, which surprised me – I have almost no experience with the paper, except its reputation, which surely was exaggerated. Well. I blew through it quickly, and when I was finished the only impression it left was astonishment that a market that large had such a weightless, arid, aimless paper. It has the typeface of a better paper, but that’s about it. I finished both before I was halfway through my Ironed Chicken Sandwich – really, it was so thin, that’s probably how they cooked it – and I spent the rest of my time reading the internet on my iPhone.Dude, I feel your pain. When knobby headed elites, such as my Jeffersonian friend, complain about the stupidness of bloggers and blog readers, I want to smack 'em. When Sean Hannity talks about the nastiness and meanness of the blog world, I want to chuckle. Sure, there are mean and stupid people, but hell, read the newspaper. It's chock full of snark and filled with stupid. And boring stupid at that.
The bloggers I know are funnier, smarter, more incisive and far more interesting than the average Newspaper. Many bloggers report. And blog readers are educated and specialists. So, if you screw up writing about medicine, you're likely to get a doctor correcting you. If you screw up talking about physics, watch out! An astrophysicist just might stop by and make you look stupid. It's happened to me. But I don't care. Newspaper writers talk about fact-checkers, but really, the internet harnesses hundreds of thousands of people who will debate and correct, for free. The feedback loop is excellent and there's no editorial board sifting through the opinions to deliver a certain slant. It's egalitarian.
What frightens the old guard about the internet? I think it's just that the old guard loses power as the common person gains it. The filter has been removed. People can choose what they want to read. They can search. They can find. They can delve deep. They can skim superficially. They can do what they want to do. Back in the day, when old Walt Cronkite read the news and the newspapers dictated your information experience, the power stayed in the hands of the few. No more.
Tough bananas, erudite luddites. It's a brave new world out there. The common man riseth. And it is a good thing.