Don’t ask how it happened. I was searching for one thing, wound up at another thing, and then fell into a forum I couldn’t pull away from.
That I couldn’t pull away from it precisely explains why newspapers, magazines, television — well, everything mass — is in decline and dying.
In the pre-Internet days, we all counted on the mass media to set the Amusement Agenda, the Attention Bullseye.
They had the money and the tools and the few channels of communication everyone else lacked. They had a responsibility to use those rare and expensive things in an engaging and trustworthy way.
They settled for the lowest common denominator.
But worse than that, somewhere around the end of the 1980s, they just gave up. They went from respecting us to pandering to the basest of us.
Maury, Jerry Springer, cloying Oprah, reality TV overdosing, and just the worst kind of exhibitionism and assholism money could summon.
The stench of desperation and outright contempt for us was overpowering.
None of us are stupid.
So we went elsewhere.
And that elsewhere became the Internet.
Which is ours.
We no longer depend on a few people with money and power to direct our attention, to create the pop culture around us.
We now do that.
The forum I was in was filled with the kinds of things we here on the Internet are creating on our own based on a culture we have all created together.
When I’ve seen Internet sites turned into books — static dead bricks of paper! — I recognized the same kind of cultural collapse and creative bankruptcy I witnessed in the 1960s, when ad agencies suddenly went Mod and catered to the youth market.
That kind of thing created the excellent term sell-out.
You’ve lost our attention. You had it and you threw it away.
Now we ignore you.
No matter how much you try to gain our trust by infiltrating the “social” Internet — MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, et al — it’s all — and will continue to be all — a wasted effort.
You don’t belong here. You will never belong here.
So here’s our advice to you: