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December 28, 2012

In the Future, Every Cat Video Will Be Viral for Fifteen Minutes

This rant is a bit unedited, but I think I still agree with it, despite it being more of a cri de couer than a precisely argued point.

His point seems to be this: The internet has created simple ways to measure penetration/popularity of an article, or a LOLcat picture: Number of pageviews, number of likes, number of video views, number of RTs. Because these standards are so ubiquitous and everpresent, we're beginning to be have as if page views equal actual quality, as if hit-whoring represented something besides hit whoring.


I think we're starting to care more about popularity and financial success than legitimate quality. All right, so that's hardly news; that's always been the case, as a general rule, for most of humanity's reign. But now the smart people are doing it: People who should know better. I'm talking about you, dear reader: You, me, all of us.

You see this everywhere, from box office results to online pageviews to Nielsen ratings to freaking Twitter followers. More people watch the NFL on television than any sport so therefore IT IS THE BEST SPORT. You have fewer Twitter followers than the person you're criticizing? YOU'RE A HATER. You don't like that album that went platinum? YOU JUST JEALOUS. BuzzFeed has put a bunch of pictures of kittens together in a way that is easily passed around by idiots? THEY HAVE FIGURED OUT THE INTERNET THEY ARE SUCH BRILLIANT PACKAGERS OF CONTENT THE FUTURE OF MEDIA. We have become a culture that, because we can quantify things in a way we've never been able to before, are acting as if those numbers are all that matter....

.Just because a bunch of morons and teenagers are watching The Voice doesn't mean that the rest of us have to give a shit.

But we do! ... Because we can see the numbers, and everyone has collectively decided that this is what we should be doing, that this is the point of all this....

We have all lowered the bar for ourselves. There was a time we didn't give a shit how popular something was, by the way; there was a time that "selling out" was considered the worst thing you could do. Now, we were all pretty stupid about that back then, too—eventually, it turns out, money does in fact come in handy—but there was at least a principle behind it. There was a recognition that you should at least try to follow your own muse. But why would anyone do that now? The pageview counter and Twitter followers and Nielsen ratings tell what is Working, and what isn't. Quality and passion, there's nothing wrong with them, necessarily ... but they're sort of beside the point.

I think he's basically right (I think). "Creating Buzz" or "setting the narrative" used to be the province of PR strategists, advertisers, and of course the idiotic liberal media. But now we can all join in.

But should we? Did anyone ever establish as his life's ambition to "create some buzz" over something? It's actually an extraordinarily trivial and shallow thing, when you consider it.

thanks to @comradearthur.


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posted by Ace at 04:36 PM

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