Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Social Networking is the New Porn"

I cannot stop thinking about that headline, and the endless variations of it popping up on news feeds all over the internet - and not just because it reads like a misguided, “didn’t-quite-hit-the-mark” joke you’d find in a community college’s satirical newspaper.

It’s just really pretty amazing, if you stop to think about it. In 1996, it didn’t matter if you were a horny teenage boy or a rabid anti-porn feminist - within 10 minutes of typing (“Hey! 'WWW'! That means ‘World Wide Web’!” you’d exclaim proudly) you started a-wonderin’ if there were nekkid people out there on the ‘tubes. Now - in an age when you can stream hours worth of naughty directly to your lap(top) in real time, people are opting instead to search for old flames in an attempt to get some real, live action in the real, live world. This, fellow citizens of Cyberia, is Progress.

Me, I’m basically over the whole facebook / myspace thing. I’ve found all the friends, acquaintances, old girlfriends and random hook-ups that I’ve ever wondered what I would say to if we got in touch, and with a few exceptions, the answer has been “not a whole hell of a lot”. (And in a couple other instances, the answer has been “You’re voting for –frickin’ – who!!??") Seriously, I’m famous for recognizing some second-period classmate from high school, only to find myself 5 minutes later trying to wrap up an entirely inane conversation about what I've been doing for the last 18 years. It’d have to be a seriously inspired, completely out of left field guest appearance on the The Ted Campbell Show (36 seasons and still going strong!) for me to really get excited about one of those sites again.

Of course, as someone who makes his living supplements his income acquires coffee and gin and tonic money by knocking out snarky little anecdotes about the businesses, artists and musicians around D-town and Boulder, I'm always keeping a skeptical, resentful eye on sites like yelp. After all, if every wannabe Candice Bushnell or David Sedaris can garner a following by waxing clever on a website that doesn't pay them a dime, where does that leave a guy like me, and all the other hipster / crypster (or in my case "poseur") types who play taste maker for "alt newsweeklies" all over the country?

And so, it's with great anticipation and trepidation, that I prematurely introduce to my 3-4 readers to The Decider ("prematurely" because the Denver "edition" won't be online until mid-November; that link'll whisk you away to the windy city's version.)

The Decider is sort of the "third branch" of The Onion (the second being The A.V. Club. It's the events and entertainment section in back of the paper. No, it's not satirical. What's that? You only read the headlines? Wow. I've never heard THAT before.) The A.V. Club will continue to focus on national events (touring musicians, Hollywood and "indie" films, etc.) whereas the local stuff will now appear under the auspices of The Decider.

The good news is that the site will showcase THREE features / articles / blogs PER DAY, meaning the potential for a lot more exposure (and money) for me (VS. the two or three a month I currently have appear in print). And from those, the city editor will still pick a couple per week for the print edition.

The tricky part is that we'll have to focus on making the public understand that we AREN'T just some "social networking" site. I'm a writer, dammit! I know more than you! I'm still the tastemaker! (Heeyyyy... "The Decider". Now I get it...) And I say "we" above even though I'm just a freelancer, because I've got a lot at stake in this thing. I'm no dummy - there's no shortage of ronin-bloggers talking about what's happening in Denver, or Portland (or Tuscon or Spokane or Glenwood Springs, for that matter) peppering their words with references to late 70's Star Wars ripoffs and comic books. The secret, as I see it, is to get yourself affiliated with a clan, a tribe, a posse.

As far as that'll take me, anyway, I think I got a purty good one.