Don't hate the playa: Thoughts on writing in the Digg era
The nature of print media is strange these days. Pages shrivel and shrink, then disappear altogether, while paid positions dry up like teens on Proactiv, resulting in a frenzied scramble toward writers and editors doing more with less, pissed off at their frozen salaries yet unable to bitch about it for fear of further noose-tightening. And always, always the mad dash to the web. Because if it's the web that's killing the paper, why not keep the enemy closer?
It was a wise man indeed who told papers to "Go web, young man," but unfortunately that man never really told them how. And so clumsily papers leapt into the deep end of the Internet, replete with MySpace, Facebook and Twitter accounts -- everyone wants to social network with a bunch of bitter reporters, right? The result was like when you shoot dog shit out of a shotgun onto a blank, white wall: a hot, fucking mess.
Growing pains are understandable -- even those later episodes with Leonardo DiCaprio as an orphan -- and at my paper, I like to think we've finally gotten our act together. I read our website now with interest and find most of what we post to be worth posting. Occasionally this leads to actual moments of unironic, Obama-like hope. Hope that the industry might actually reach some happy medium twixt print and web. Hope that we'll have a merry fucking Christmas.
Except for the Jews, that is. But I think we all know the Jews have nothing to do with the media in the first place.
But some of what papers are doing on the web now, ours included, is simply pure, unadulterated cyber-sleaze -- tits and ass in slide shows, ranking random things in list form because for some reason people love lists (I blame Letterman), graphic footage of bums beheading other bums in dirty railyard hobo knife fights (not yet, but keep your fingers crossed!) -- all of it desperately lunging like Holden Caulfield for that golden ring of page views.
Alas, though, it's page views that help keep us afloat, page views that fuel our getaway from the Somali pirates of progress.
Which brings me to Digg, the phenomenally popular site where readers check out articles and alternately "digg" or "bury " the content. Land a story on Digg's front page, and "Diggers" click through to your page by the thousands while editors in distant cities issue pats on the back in the form of curt demands for more.
Twice now, Digg has picked up my missives and placed them on its front page. One screed was about my love of the New Kids on the Block from back in the day and how funny and fun it was to see them again in concert recently. This resulted in legions of insightful comments ranging from "You're a fucking faggot" to "This shit is gay." The other day I tossed off a blog about how Taco Bell had downsized a promotion with the Denver Nuggets, and the piece found its way up front. Voila, page views and comments galore: thoughtful, astute offerings such as "How did your bitching make it to digg? This is pitiful," to "You're a douchebag..."
Fortunately, I have found an outlet. In addition to being a writer, I'm a standup comic, and both times Digg has picked up my writing, I've printed out the comments and read some of the most inane offering from the slack-jawed half-wits on the web at shows. And you know what happens then? People laugh. They fucking guffaw at how low many have sunk.
Do you hear me, Diggers -- you imbecilic fucktards of the hinternet? You picking up what I'm putting down, Timothy the Tampon, YoMamasFatVagina, FuckYou and all the other Guggenheim Fellowship-winning screen names out there? For while you may not grasp sarcasm or satire or even that a writer at a newspaper might just fart out a blog because it's part of his job, there are people out there who not only do get the humor, but then go on to study your ignorant cyber-outpourings with the same curious revulsion a scientist might examine a particularly hearty slab of mucus in a petri dish. There are still people out there whose sense of irony was not completely obliterated by years of Cheetos and World of Warcraft abuse, people who actually read, people who actually get laid.
Some argue that the Internet has made us dumber. My friend Jim has a theory that this is not the case at all. Rather, the Internet has merely made interfacing between smart people and fucking idiots easier and more common (traits ironically shared by the sisters of most of the aforementioned idiots). Thus, those whom Ben Affleck would refer to as "smaaht kids" now more regularly discourse with those whom everyone else would refer to as "Ben Affleck." And sites like Digg are there to more easily facilitate the exchange. And situations like newspapers moving to the web are there to all but demand it.
So I will continue to march undaunted into the black fog of utter dumbfuckery that is the Internet, hoping that my meager attempts at entertaining you while you sit bored at your cubicle will not only find some way of being read by people who can barely understand them, but will also then be judged by those same people for all of eternity.
Or at least until newspapers figure out the direction they're taking.
Man, I hope this blog gets a lot page views. -- Adam Cayton-Holland
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