How it is Possible for the Internet to Reduce Us to Drooling on Ourselves in front of a Screen

1. Don’t ask me how I came across the gentleman cited below, I don’t wish to create further embarrassment for anyone else.

reymon14: “2 divided by 9 is 100 that means I’m 22 percent smart”

I don’t think I need to make it clear that I’m not picking on YouTube user reymon14 – there’s actually an early YouTube video of his where he uses stop-motion to animate a battle between his wrestling figures and it is of far higher quality than his usual work. I think he understands exactly how to get an audience on the Internet: his rant videos consist of him making one joke over and over until he has forced you to pay attention and comment and maybe even watch 370 of his videos (I think that’s how many he has).

Point is, people aren’t just glancing at him and going “whatever.” They’re paying way too much attention. And then I have to pay attention because they’re paying attention and guess what, we’re all dumber.

2. Dan Drezner on Celebrity and Foreign Policy

This link is unrelated to the above, or maybe it is related – maybe one day reymon14 will dazzle us with his knowledge of failed international space initiatives and be an activist for what will become the United Federation of Planets. But I think this article is notable for how unremarkable it is.

In fact, the “meat” of Drezner’s article, which is how celebrities are exerting power, is so cliched that I want to openly question all that it presupposes. The argument is the usual “media used to be centralized, now it’s decentralized,” “soft news matters more than ever because it reaches an audience hard news can’t reach,” “a celebrity can go global very easily from soft & hard news coverage, and has brand incentives to do so,” blah blah.

It could be that media organizations go through periods of centralization and decentralization. It feels like, when studying the American Revolution and Constitutional debates, that everyone has a printing press in their basement and is using it. And gossip? Soft news? I mean seriously, what’s Plutarch?

The real issue would be what’s wrong with us if celebrities didn’t want to meddle in international affairs. Then we should be worried because there’s probably something way more serious than any of us can handle on the horizon.

– I’m also thinking, on an unrelated tangent, that there’s gotta be something written by like Thomas Paine (the real one, not the Lefty website) entitled “How to Get Your Pamphlet Noticed,” that might be great advice for bloggers. –

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1 Comment

  1. Hey there, Ashok. There’s a related item in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by a former NBC correspondent who switched to academia:

    Unfettered ‘citizen journalism’ too risky

    I’ll let you read it and see what you think, but I particular like this quote:

    The premise of citizen journalism is that regular people can now collect information and pictures with video cameras and cellphones, and distribute words and images over the Internet. Advocates argue that the acts of collecting and distributing makes these people “journalists.” This is like saying someone who carries a scalpel is a “citizen surgeon” or someone who can read a law book is a “citizen lawyer.” Tools are merely that. Education, skill and standards are really what make people into trusted professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.

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