Tuesday, June 11, 2013

FTT Off-Topic: You And Your Fancy Internet

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So the non-sports moment to stick in my craw today is a grouchy column in the NYT, then commented on my the swells who write about media in my online advertising newsletters so that I can't possibly ignore it. The central conceit of the piece is that the Internets aren't all that important or meaningful or great, since all it goes is distract and trivialize and keep us from doing More Important Things, since hey, cat video and porn clickie clickie clickie.

Now, three quick points about this.

1) Given what has happened to the middle class in this country during my adult lifetime, let alone the student debt burden being loaded unto our young people and their parents... um, you want people distracted. You want them getting very into Facebook, locked into their PlayStations and XBoxes, tapping on their phones and basically getting as distracted and sidetracked as humanly possible. Because if they aren't good and distracted, they are going to get angry, and focused, and probably way too damned dangerous.

2) I can tell you this, with utter and complete certainty: we have lost no great pieces of art, no stunning musical compositions of utter genius, no brilliant novels or transcendent careers in business or politics or sports or any other pursuit where the best of the best become famous for doing what they do.

Those people aren't playing games, or clicking on cat videos, or watching a half dozen hours of television per day or, basically, living any form of like that's very much like the one you are living right now. Genius, for good or ill, is not distractable; it is focused and monomaniacal and driven and devoid of all kinds of basic humanity. Which makes it quite troublesome to live with and prone to very, very big swings and misses, along with the moments of genius and all. But true genius isn't lost in the weeds that easily. It's the great mediocre and below that won't stay on point.

3) Finally, this. What happens to your business when the Internet is out? I can tell you what happens to mine; it more or less ceases to be a business. Computers without connectivity are doorstops and paperweights. My day to day is spent in conference calls, screen shares and IMs, working on Word files and Powerpoints and more, and when the Net isn't working it's basically a snow day of suck.

And I get that my job isn't the same as everyone else's, but an awful lot of office work jobs are.

So, finally.

I get that we need to fill pixels with things that get clicks. I get that clickbait is a necessary part of every online balanced breakfast. (Hell, there's going to be another Tebow list on this here blog real soon, because my kids need bagged cereal, and Tim Tebow lists equal bagged cereal.)

But seriously, doesn't working for the best newspaper on the planet involve you filling the wordhole with something that's above a rejected Slate pitch?

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