A Surly Bastard Discusses the Internet

You already know what it is.

Friends, I believe I have decided I do not want to become an Internet celebrity. Which is fortunate, since I was never in any danger of becoming one.

But Jordan!
Yes, Reader?
Why would you ever say such horrible things?! Online infamy is the reason anybody starts a blog, or a profile, or a Youtube channel!

Your ideas are intriguing, Reader, and are exactly why I would say such a horrible thing. Allow me to explain.

Ask anyone with a modicum of internet fame how to gain a dedicated following they will always, always come back to content. You must have content. Daily, preferably more than once. Following that nugget always comes consistency. You must give the people what they expect of you, and you must never deviate from it.

You’ll notice ‘quality’ is never one of the prerequisites.

Now look, friends, this is not me jumping on the highbrow horse, arguing that the kids are all wrong, and I’ve got the keys to the kingdom. You don’t need to add the RSS feed here to know that I don’t update often, I straddle the line between coherence and gutter talk with gleeful abandon, and quality is not usually on the agenda. This is not by design [laziness usually]. But I am not an internet celebrity, I can barely get my friends to read this thing half the time, let alone online passersby. The kids are obviously doing something right, but I get the sinking feeling that what they’re doing right is woefully shallow and shortsighted, and lacking in staying power. I would prefer people who aim for the brass ring to choose something free of the ‘scenester/lolcat’ continuum as a launching pad.

Bear in mind that I when I mention the ‘scenester/lolcat’ continuum I am referring solely to individuals who fancy themselves as internet celebrities: people who are selling the experience of themselves, and nothing else. They don’t produce anything, they don’t have any specialized focus, they draw an audience of people who are intrigued by the way they view the world. Perez Hilton is vapid and irritating, at least he has a focus: celebrity gossip. Toronto scene kid Raymi the Minx is just vapid and irritating, but that’s what she’s selling: you don’t go to her site for any reason other than to see her staggering through Sneaky Dee’s narrowing her smoky eyes at the camera or flaunting her complimentary drink tickets at the Sound Academy.

As someone who has had a blog in some form since the 90s, I have seen this phenomenon develop since the days of Jennicam into what we have today, which is either a blog centering on an individual’s nights out, what they eat, how drunk they get, how many rips they put in their hosiery [the scenester] and the slightly younger individual with a website that looks like a Myspace page [though coded by the individual], frequent use of the words ‘ninja’ and ‘gangsta’ and photos wherein the individual looks at the camera with an expression of befuddled wonderment [the lolcat]. These people are not to be confused with actual lolcats, which are in fact hilarious.

Under normal circumstances I would provide links to examples of these people to provide context, but I’m a hater and I refuse to drive any traffic to their sites.


Because what’s the shelf life of that sort of presentation? You get, if you’re lucky, five years out of that model. Then what? Most of these kids out there championing the glamour of new media would sell out to old media in a minute, and justify it to their audience by alleging they’ll be subverting the system from the inside. Those are the lucky ones. The not so lucky ones will find themselves on the wrong side of 30 throwing up duckfaces and hand signs in a desperate grab for relevance.

The only thing that matters is the work, kids. Not how much of it you throw up. If it’s crap, it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter if your voice and tone is straight as an arrow. If it’s crap, it won’t matter. All that matters is the work. Cults of personality are fleeting, fickle things. You are getting older everyday, and Google Ads will not save you. Prep the backup plan.


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