Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A trip inside the digital bubble

Ask the average American when she last read the Drudge Report and you'll be rewarded with a blank stare and a query: “What’s a Drudge?” That is as it should be (and thank the stars for small favors). But the daily spectacle of Drudge (and his imitators) in our political websphere will perplex future anthropologists when they excavate the digital rubble. Today, Andrew Sullivan cited this over the top headline: "GALLUP POLL PLUNGE FOR OBAMA!" Sully leapt at the chance to mock Drudge’s bombast. Allied blogs (TPM, Daily Kos, Slate, etc.) soon follow suit. Mining grist for their own mills (hey, it’s easier than original reporting), the cable talk shows pick up on the Net chatter (now amplified on Twitter) and join in on the derision. "Drudge is such a dumb creep," they'll laugh in unison by night's end, show by show. If he's really lucky, Drudge will make someone's "Crazy Talk" segment. It only burnishes his street cred. Drudge, of course, routinely puts up outrageous headlines as bait for the usual leftwing suspects. They always bite (like salmon, they never learn), thereby giving Drudge the oxygen (page views) he needs to live large. Tomorrow, Drudge (and bloggers who mimic his “fly-fishing” technique) will toss fresh bait into the digital pond and the cycle begins anew. Such is the eco-system inside the digital bubble. It’s not unlike the novel Flatland, which depicts life in a strange place where single-dimensional creatures (like our bubble denizens) cannot conceive of a multi-dimensional world (like the one inhabited by most average Americans). And never the twain shall meet. So, what exactly is the point of the digital bubble? There is no point. Kinda deep, huh?

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