Why We’re Not Biting — And You Do!


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 failed.

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.

Some examples:







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.

Monkey-see, monkey-do.

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:


9 Responses to Why We’re Not Biting — And You Do!

  1. jenn topper says:

    Spot on. I can’t think of one thing on television or mainstream media otherwise that I couldn’t pull away from (besides sports and bill moyers). actually the first season of Lost, that was cool. though i didn’t see it live; i downloaded the whole season over the course of a sleepless 3 day weekend when i was suffering from insomnia.

    Honestly, commercials ruin TV; ads ruin magazines. I had no hope for behavioral advertising, but it’s beginning to really take hold and i shouln’t assume everyone is like me, turning off ads immediately and not responding at all.

    So if we take away ad dollars, we should go back to having excellent content, regardless of the medium, right? Er, uh, wait, not so fast. I guess Google is continuing to push through their model of targeted ad-driven business. I just don’t know what’s next. Consumers need to be smarter about their searches; Search must be refined as a technology and a philosophy because we don’t all think like developers.


  2. yearzerowriters says:

    Agree wholeheartedly. It spills over into real events – raw footage of IEDs etc, trying to influence the domestic populations of occupying armies.

    You sit there voting on some talent show wannabe on TV, like a Greek God of old trying to influence the fate of a mere mortal – it’s the same or very similar mechanism of agitating online by posting beheadings and explosions only 4REAL seeing as these people on screen die as against just die on stage.

    We the audience decide. We the producers and editors post up the material to be decided upon. Who needs executive producers?

  3. yearzerowriters says:

    sorry, should have declared that as from marc nash

  4. yearzerowriters says:

    A very valid point. I remember Guy saying much the same thing about these godawful twitter boot camps people run. The point about all the most successful areas of the internet is they work according to logic that develops absolutely bottom-up, and is almost always unarticulated – the people who use it just get it intuitively. The moment someone comes in ad tries to manipulate it, people either show them elsewhere, or just go and find another playground and leave the corporates talking to themselves. The other thing these people don’t get when they try to be ohsoclever is taht internet communities have the most finely tuned BS detectors on the planet.

  5. robinson says:

    Don’t get it! Sorry! Pop art, Andy Warhol, etc. were doing these very things you presented ages ago. And what’s so clever about using 4 letter words out of context (characters who normally don’t say them). That’s passe and crude!

    Your general idea that the old media has fallen behind in on target… but if the replacement is rapid-fire, you tube, embedded flash, animated avatars and ads, then forget it! It’s a distracting pish-posh of visually distracting, unimaginative nonsense!

    • mikecane says:

      You are missing the larger point and focusing on those examples to undercut it. Do you work in TV or something else in mass media that’s losing to the Internet?

  6. barbara says:

    What is the forum of which you are speaking (all of the posters are lovely….)

  7. David Crotty says:

    Who is this “we” of which you speak? You may have gone elsewhere, and all your friends may have gone elsewhere, but according to this, most people are still engaged in mainstream media:
    More people listen to the radio than read things on the internet. Things may indeed be changing and audiences splintering, but pablum still sells to the masses.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: