jul 15

Just. Don't. Look.

Kottke: Just. Don't. Look. It's great advice if you're tired of the relentless "look at me!" blog onslaught, but it's more difficult if you feel compelled to be in touch with it all -- able to talk about all corners of politics/culture/media/tech. Sometimes you need to see bad movies to recognize the good ones, ya know?


Well, if you "feel compelled to be in touch with it all -- able to talk about all corners of politics/culture/media/tech" then the advice isn't applicable to you because you WANT to look. In fact, if you're that type then you probably LIKE what you're looking at and thrive on all the meaningless conversations surrounding whatever it is you're looking at. That's your world. Some people, like Kottke and I, just live in another one. That's all.

(This came out wrong. I meant to make more fun of you.)

posted by krucoff at 6:00 PM on July 15, 2008

"Some people, like Kottke and I, just live in another one." WHAT? HOLY FUCKING AHEM.

posted by Rex at 6:31 PM on July 15, 2008


posted by katiebakes at 6:41 PM on July 15, 2008

I can't BELIEVE the people who linked to this today! No one has any self-awareness?

Kottke is the real deal. He actually does ignore the annoying shit. But for every goddamn Tumblr that piled on this today... LOOK AT YOUR SITE.

posted by Rex at 6:53 PM on July 15, 2008

I have contributors. I can't control what they say but *I* generally ignore JA and the undeserving crap out there. I'm trying to turn YM into a SOUP KITCHEN BLOG!

(Snort that, Katie!)

posted by krucoff at 7:18 PM on July 15, 2008

See but why did we start paying attention in the first place such that we have to make ourselves stop? That's what I want to know. What invests us? Why get sucked in? This is not me saying don't get sucked in and invested. I do it too. But I don't understand why.

And using JA as an easy example, why do we pounce and pull down? Tearing down celebrities is nothing new, so tearing down microcelebrities shouldn't be a surprise, but I'm interested in why, at the psychological level, we are compelled to do this. Is it jealousy? Is it something else? Is this really nothing new? The idea of getting above oneself, and people not liking that, is not new. So maybe this is just that. I still want to know why we do it.

I gave up on paying attention to JA because who she is (or appears to be or presents herself as online) was annoying me. All the look-at-me stuff just made me go pshhht, yuck. Why did I care in the first place and why should anything she does annoy me, this person I've never met and never will? Why couldn't I just pull a kottke and pass on by? Why do I feel the need to weigh in on random sites and comment? What will it achieve? Why do I feel compelled to be part of some kind of regulating posse that hammers down sticky uppy nails so they're in line with the others, especially when they are nails that have zero bearing on me or my life? I remain puzzled, but I bet anything psychologists have an answer. It's interesting to think about.

posted by Eric at 10:04 PM on July 15, 2008

You seem to have a pretty healthy attitude about it: watch to see if you're interested, and once you become uninterested, get the hell outta there.

JA is so complicated. I've talked elsewhere about this idea:

Several years ago, when I was living in Minneapolis, I started a website that was basically a local version of Metafilter (plus a few other things -- but conversation + links was the main part). It was around the time that Diablo Cody was starting to get big. The resentment, the backlash, the bombast in Minneapolis was bigger than anywhere else. As she got bigger, the good people in Minneapolis hated her more.

I couldn't figure it out then, but now I start to understand it. And I think it's a little bit like Julia/Gawker. These new kinds of internet celebs are so open, so available, so easy to chat-up at a party or in IM... they're completely different than Big Fame, and yet they're part of it. (Seriously, we can't deny this any more -- Julia is on the cover of Wired and Diablo has an Oscar. They're big.) But it's actually their accessibility, their similarity to us that makes them such lightning rods. Diablo's closeness, like Julia's, makes her more contemptible.

It's more complex than this "jealousy" answer... but I really think that's a big part of it. Sometimes I'll try to tell the biggest JA haters that they are actually the closest to her, and those who ignore her are the furthest. This inevitably leads to an argument.

posted by Rex at 10:22 PM on July 15, 2008

Well there you go - something akin to familiarity breeding contempt. Or maybe contempt is a spore that's already in there just waiting to germinate, no breeding necessary. The less we know about people and the more mysterious and inaccessible they are (and add unknown secret ingredient here), I suppose the more we desire them, at least as far as celebrity is concerned. It's why tabloids sell. ("What does Jack Nicholson do in that mansion all day, I wonder? What's behind those sunglasses? Man, he rocks.") Maybe this is because we fill in all the holes with what we imagine must be great stuff. And internet celebs are the opposite of inaccessible. They exist due to sharing of themselves and openness and always onness. There's still something missing from the explanation puzzle, I think, for all the hating and down-pulling.

posted by Eric at 11:40 PM on July 15, 2008

Yeah, I don't know if this has been written about, but "new celebrity" fits the new economy too -- scarcity is dead. Hollywood celebrity fed off the notion of scarcity, but internet fame busts that open.

(I'm risking over-stating this. Kyle had a good post about how/why.)

posted by Rex at 12:06 AM on July 16, 2008

Word association time. I say "comment culture" and what do you think? Wait, I know your answer: Gawker, Tumblr, celebrity, microfame, backlash, whiplash, self-promotion, anonymity, privacy, sincerity, NY vs non-NY, and other detritus that only serves as distraction from real issues. I'm no genius but I am certain that ruminating on all of this stuff is nothing more than pop sociology for dummies. It's the Jerry Springer Show for rebloggers. The intellectual hurdles presented are right up (or down) there with "Web 2.0 Marketing."

It's much easier to confine oneself to a narrow world (like the one that allows you to say "JA is so complicated" with a straight face) where the claim to thought leader is earned by merely blowing bubbles, but how about stepping outside of your comfort zone and tackling the bigger stuff? No one talks about the thriving "comment culture" of an econ discussion like the one on this Megan McArdle post. That, of course, would require knowledge and perspective beyond a tabloid world.

posted by krucoff at 1:47 AM on July 16, 2008

Oh Jesus.

Anyway, to clarify this stupid point: "JA is so complicated" means "Understanding JA is so complicated". If that's pop psychology, fine. I still don't see any answers to the questions Eric was asking.

And don't come over here trying to show off your legit "thought leader" stance. Take it back home, or go sabotage a Gawker thread. And quit blogging when you get home from the bar!

posted by Rex at 2:03 AM on July 16, 2008

Drunk commenter culture counts too!


posted by krucoff at 2:17 AM on July 16, 2008

Well I'm no mechanic, but I want to understand how my car works and I want to fix it to the degree I can. I'm no sociologist or psychologist, but should I just not think or wonder or ask questions about people and society because I don't have professional credentials? Does it hurt anyone else if I do? And is posting in the comments of a blog the equivalent of speaking at a professional conference? Just talkin' here. I like talking about it and thinking about it. Your comment is neat because it's a hater comment trying to smash back down someone who you see as getting above himself undeservedly because he is prognosticating about why haters try to smash back down people who they see as getting above themselves undeservedly. Extending this logic out, the message is essentially, "Everybody shut up because you don't know what you're talking about and your blathering is causing [something]. Keep your head down and keep quiet. You do not deserve to speak. Only experts should speak about any given topic."

And you guys shared a bedroom in the Hamptons? Where's the love?!

posted by Eric at 10:14 AM on July 16, 2008

This has nothing to do with professional credentials. That's a rather poor extension of logic. (Frankly, if a "professional" talked about this stuff, I would wonder about their credentials.) I'm saying the topic is "meaningless" but if you feel it's worthwhile, by all means get your kicks with it.

But are these really the questions you have about life? You absolutely deserve to speak, from the top of a mountain or a megaphone in Times Square, about anything you want and if you feel this is how your time and brain power is best spent, that's great.

I certainly won't analyze that.

posted by krucoff at 10:34 AM on July 16, 2008

ok, so maybe i'm out of the loop on julia allison, (i'm not a guy) since i don't find her attractive or interesting. but then i've never read any blogs about what people did that day, unless i actually know them i couldn't care less. i like link blogs, which i guess says i'm lazy and i don't really like people, which would be accurate.

anyway, comparing her to diablo cody, well i think for you it seems similar because you know both of them, but diablo cody is famous for actually doing something. there's juno, the oscar, and now the naked megan fox movie, plus a big column in entertainment weekly. i know there was the blog, etc before all this, but the stuff since juno makes her genuinely famous, not self proclaimed famous.

i don't find any of the internet celebrities interesting, but i find the topic to be interesting, so as far as i'm concerned blog away. i can spare a bit of my brain and time once in a while.

posted by kittyholmes at 3:03 PM on July 16, 2008

I'd agree with most of that, but just try to add a little bit more about JA....

She did have two sorta big media jobs, she did start a company, and she did land a reality tv show. Now, maybe all of that is garbage, but it's not exactly "doing nothing" -- she works really fucking hard. (Again, it might be for a undesirable product -- that's your call to make.)

Also, her new site was originally pitched to me as "The View, but during the day and for internet people." That idea, stripped of any particular personalities, sounds really appealing to me! Whether it will actually happen, I dunno... but it's also more than fame-for-fame's sake.

posted by Rex at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2008

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