Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Prickdom and Popularity: Directly Proportional.

I feel a rage coming, but soon. Hopefully, as has happened in the past, a torrent of better-than-decent/good writing will come from it. But first, an intro/meta-spective. It's full of embellishments, some outright lies, but mostly single-mindedness to the point of chaos. It's a first step to saying what's really on my mind, so bear with me.

Has anyone else noticed that snobbery and popularity move in direct proportion on the internet?

Follow along with this stream of consciousness, if you will. I was reading "The Next Page" this morning, a holdover from something i saw yesterday but never got around to reading. They had reprinted online a small book that had been published only for a conference held in Denver. Firstly, I found that when the slideshow started, the new window had covered up most of the logo on the page out of focus ... so that the letters spelled out "NOBserver." Which led to me thinking what snobby little pricks they were for being so high-faluting that anyone would want to view 30 pages' worth of tables of contents - with barely any comment offered as to why these specific TOCs were chosen (one small introductory page about five paragraphs deep). What's more, why are 50% of the picks all design books? Surely there's a designer that made better choices for a 13th edition of The Great Gatsby than did some design grad's senior thesis. To boot, nearly half of the design "choices" were identical to one another. Now, I realize I'm no graphic design student, but I do have two eyes and a bit of logic. Besides the stylistic choice to columnize the page numbers, or perhaps a single or double-space decision, there is little else to discern between two-thirds of the presented TOCs.

Which got me thinking that, most of the time, the most severe pricks on the internet are also the most popular figureheads: Steve Jobs, John C. Dvorak, the entire crew at b0ingb0ing - all snobbery, and yet somehow all incredibly loved for their ability to spew vitriol and scathe.

It's a given that none of the aforementioned characters wants to be a snob, (except perhaps Dvorak or Jardin), but they all seem to occasionally fall into the same pit traps as any other writer worth their salt. The motto of news agencies the world over is "If it bleeds it leads;" A more stringent rule of the internet is "If it causes emotional distress to at least one person besides the writer, post it." Web writers have long known that the stake the internet has on our psyches is one of emotional needs, and very personal; compared to the wide, sweeping lifelessness of the printed word, or the decadent past tense of video. The latter two mediums have conditioned us to feel nothing unless it is immediate. Therefore, the internet is the best source of cultural emotional temperatures, while TV, magazines and newspapers strive to reiterate our boundaries.

What's more, I LIKE Xeni, Cory, Mark, and all the other peeps at b0ingb0ing. I read that site every damn day, and I love most of the things they put in their repository. So, why am I belittling the BB gang? Simple, they are easy targets, and I myself am falling into the trap of causing emotional distress for the sake of popularity. I'm a little jealous of their fame, a little peeved that they consider themselves so hip as to be above and beyond the culture fashionistas, a little disappointed they don't post my suggestions.

In my building hatred for people I've never met, I seem to be storing it all in the pit of my stomach. Either this will be my own claim to fame when it is finally released, or it will be my downfall as it consumes me. In any case, I bet a gazillion dollars that I get more reads on this post than any before it.

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