Today is Festivus. In the honor of Frank Costanza, these are the things a few of us want to get off our chest:
The proliferation of video content that no consumers want, driven by “metrics” that range between fraudulent or merely greatly exaggerated. The hammering of more and more obtrusive videos has rendered reading online akin to navigating a minefield. You are in constant avoidance of what you traveled to a web site to see. Again, the advertisers who are driving this push are actually getting bilked.
This is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
Twitter eggs are used as strawmen against which media members hammer away at takes where there’s no real dispute and all sensible people are on one side. Stop that. The conflating aspect of this is that some media members have figured out that there’s market share in the attention-sphere to be had by arguing loudly on the side of the eggs. This in turn bolsters the 95% of legitimate people who have the same opinion into believing their takes are profound and creates an echo tornado that grinds every story of marginal interest into the ground.
Third-party distribution platforms incentivize fake news. The biggest culprits here are Facebook and Google, but Twitter, Reddit, and Yahoo are not blameless. Whether it is seemingly real news that outlets scramble to aggregate without checking any facts — or shit that is conceived on Eastern European bot farms for the sole intent of capitalizing on the clicks — it’s not like you have to give the traffic or CPMs back if you fuck up.
In sports media, there were several of the same, prominent outlets that messed up on stories — the Vikings and homelessness, and a new spring football league — twice this week alone. There’s literally no accountability.
Media Twitter Usage – Echo chambers are a concern. Lost in that discussion is a simpler truth. Twitter is taking smart people, distracting them, and turning them into dumb, instantaneous reactors. The media cycle has become a speed boat racing along the surface, getting jolted by every inane controversy, and seldom, if ever, cutting the throttle. It’s irksome in sports coverage. It has calamitous consequences in real life.
The Comey letter, almost without question, impacted the election result. It had an impact because the entire news media went to Defcon 5 within seconds with incomplete information. Major outlets shoved out that incomplete information with inflammatory headlines within minutes. By the time reporting and analysis occurred, it was too late.
Bullsh*t Opining – “Hot takes” paints with too broadly. Thinking outside our set boxes, especially with social media echo chambers, should be encouraged. The same goes for strong, heartfelt opinions. That said, we’ve seen an epidemic of disingenuous opinions engendered for their effect. It may be sound short-term business strategy, but it’s taking a fetid dump in the marketplace of ideas. We are now drowning under the weight of that fecal matter. Soon, we won’t be able to crawl out from under it.
Mac Web Browsers – I’m a “power user.” This means I make my living on the Internet. I open a lot of tabs. As Ryan mentioned above, I end up opening a lot of video content. I have a MacBook Pro. I pay extra to my cable provider for faster Internet. My browsing remains hamstrung because every major browser available – Chrome, Safari, Firefox – stinks in its own specific way. I cycle through them weekly, if not daily or hourly.
They are unstable, napalm my memory and battery life, and lack basic, sensible features. That’s before we get to aesthetics and font rendering. I’m laden with so much tracking and advertising technology website loading, on any browser, is sloooow. Fix this, nerds.
That one TV at every sports bar that’s stuck on ESPN Classic for some reason. I always get seated near it and have to watch an AWA Wrestling event from 1986.
I enjoy ESPN Classic, especially when they air actual major sporting events from the past like old NBA Finals matchups, etc. But the magic of watching those events is listening to the commentary from the people involved when they are interviewed. Having the channel blaring in front of me while muted at a sports bar is awful. In fact — while I have to brush up on my Dante — I’m fairly certain I remember that being one of the punishments outlined in the third circle of hell.
Grayson Allen. No need to explain.
People who call for coaches to be fired after a few losses. Yeah, I’m as guilty of it as anyone, but I’ve repented. Seasons are long, no team is perfect and coaches need time. Losses in September in college football or November in college basketball are never as serious as they seem. So give coaches a chance to develop their teams. Relax people, it’s just sports.
The mocking of intelligence. When did being smart become uncool? When did not learning more about the world become so hip? Intelligence and gaining a deeper understanding of the world around us should be something we all strive for, not reject.
Let’s all try to change in the New Year. Listen and learn from each other. Shut the TV off and read a book. Encourage others to do the same. Hell, go to a museum once in a while. Stop the dumbing-down of America and maybe try to stop listening and repeating soundbytes instead of actually hearing the whole conversation. We can be better, so let’s try to actually accomplish that.
Be smarter, America. Please.