by Sam Mantell
I was thinking about what I could blog about this week and I wanted to do something on the dangers of dropping an opinion on Twitter without true, factual knowledge of what one was tweeting about. And then I thought about how we have less of an excuse to be informed about things now, because information is pretty much everywhere. Fair enough, but how do we know who to trust? From where I stand, I see the same media companies that dominate TV, radio, and the magazine stands dominating the internet. Advertisers saw this, perhaps even took it as a foregone conclusion that it would be business as usual, and money and power shifted to its old poles.
Now of course, I think that, about the power placement, but there are stats out there somewhere. Surely, research has been undertaken to figure out a more focused and applicable answer to the trust question I’ve just asked. Now if I wanted to make that observation, that “Advertising Dollars Have Brought Website Credibility Under Suspicion”, I would really be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t check all the facts before I blog or tweet about it. Then I would be subjecting my internet credibility to suspicion. And what’s the point of all that, then? That just makes me part of the problem.
So, where do I look? Wikipedia? Huffington Post? Politico? I’ve tried those, and my search eventually gets derailed by media flashing in my face. Links, links, links. Links everywhere. And the double edged-sword of the internet is that you don’t know whether it will bring you something new and beautiful, or waste your time with vapid, empty, sensationalist reporting. You don’t want to be afraid to click a link! You don’t want to be afraid to do anything, but you just don’t know where it will lead you.
This is how I find myself while trying to launch a new blog. I want it to be everything. I want it to be a one stop deal and boy, I want people to love it. But hey, what can I do? Paranoia helps, sure, but the immensity of the internet is making more of an impression on me each day. It’s unbelievable.
I’d like to see an easy-to-understand chart of internet growth over the years. I looked for one and couldn’t find anything comparable on the first page of Google, so I quit. But I think it would amaze any of us to see an accurate depiction of internet usage, across all platforms, on an hourly/daily basis. When thinking of the immensity of such a supposed graph (it would probably have to occupy more than just the standard two axes), two scary things come to mind. One: the internet, its applications and their reach, are immeasurable. It can’t be done. We can’t be one hundred percent sure of its size. Or Two: Someone does have those figures in front of them and it’s probably up to them whether or not we see those figures as well. Also, it’s likely that the person controlling that knowledge is most likely using it to make money. A few people come to mind.
So is that fair? Is that capitalism? Shouldn’t we get to know what our own consuming/producing power is on the internet? Is there a value for that? Does everyone else already know this value, and I’m just behind? I feel like that’s possible. If we had a lot of readers, I could rely on comments for feedback about how we’re doing, as a blog. Would there be some sort of value backing those people whose comments matter in terms of the questions I’m really asking? Perhaps there is. Well, how does that value translate across the web, from site to site and genre to genre? Are my comments on Pitchfork valued at the same level as they are on Stereogum? How about POLITICO or ESPN? How about Facebook? I can’t tell if it’s paranoia to worry about my “internet value” or if this is something that’s been in place for a long time and it’s some sort of institution by now.
Sure, there are people that know where to go. They know the ins and outs. A few of my friends and bloggers on Don’t Get Lazy are actually quite well-versed in the behind-the-scenes of internet traffic. Myself, I don’t know a goddamn thing about it, and I assume I have a place with the other 99% of internet users that don’t either. I feel like the growth of internet capabilities and applications is waaaayyy outstripping our ability to devise a plan on how best to use those features. Of course, this would make the Internet a more advanced life-form than humans, so we’re just going to table that convo for right now, lest we find an answer we don’t like.
Now, I’ve just made a streak of vague conclusions about possibly meaningless questions without having done any research whatsoever. And I think that any of you, if you could have, would have trusted any other source on the internet over my word. “Now it says here that internet usage is actually shrinking! Grrr…” This mistrust has nothing to do with my character any further than my, ahem, laziness. It has to do with the value of my blog, which has to do with how many links I have, and how many people click on them.
I mean, is anyone else confused? I’m wrong, right? This is just rumbling on and on, consistent with my vanity for my “style”. The thing is, I really don’t know if I can handle the internet. For every believing word I write, there’s someone out there with an opinion that’s entirely the opposite. And that’s cool. I guess in a way that makes internet faithfulness as pure as ever. You guys just have to believe that we’ll be the best smorgasbord we can be. That’s where I think our value will be highest, if we have one.
It’s true, living in Los Angeles makes you aware of how important appearances are. Everyone is trying to make their own mark. Look at hipsters and how, um, unique, they are. Truthfully, I’m guilty of a few hipster qualities. I really dislike being the second person to know about anything. I want to be the first in music news, sports news, friend news, whatever news. I want to be the first one reporting on it. Naturally, I’ve imagined being the first person to put something on the internet. With all it’s vast expanse, growing by the nanosecond, that would really be something. And to be the first, to have avoided the risk of being outdone by some European or some Brooklyn-ite, man, that sounds tasty. That way, it’s just what I think, and it won’t have any links to punctuate it, because there’s nothing else like it. It won’t have mattered what anyone else thought. I haven’t let them halt my progress toward knowledge and originality…except, well, of course unless what other people think effects our internet value. Then where will we be? Or perhaps, it’s where we are already.