It Came From Five Things About Media and Technology Right Now

(I don’t know why I started giving these posts classic sci-fi/monster movie titles, but sometimes things just happen. Here’s Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11, and Part 12.)

1. My friend Will Leitch, who used to do the Two Writers Drinking series with me until he got to a career level where he needs to wear a suit and tie and put on makeup, has a new talk show on Amazon Channel’s Sports Illustrated TV. It’s called The Will Leitch Show, and his first guest is Tara Lapinski.

2. The Atlantic has gotten rid of their comments and launched…letters to the editor! This is a fantastic idea, one that I’ve been pushing for years. Comment sections have become garbage dumps, where people spew nonsense and hate, go to political extremes, start arguments, give their opinion without even reading the article, or leave spam, usually with spelling errors and questionable punctuation. Many comment sections aren’t even moderated, which is why they’ve become what they are (it’s the fault of the sites as much as the readers). Congrats to The Atlantic for favoring quality over quantity and bringing back common sense.

3. If you’re on Twitter – and I hope you’re not – you’ll see that the most-used phrase in bios is “RTs do not equal endorsement.” I’ve been thinking about this and it’s actually dead wrong, and a cop-out. If you retweet an obviously inaccurate piece of news or an insane conspiracy theory, aren’t you part of the problem? Sure, you may not agree with it or believe it, you’re just retweeting it to show how crazy/silly/funny people are being, but at the same time you’re still spreading that information through your timeline, and people have such short attention spans now that they often don’t know the difference. It all becomes part of the Twitter world, everything mixed together, and in a way actually becomes “real.” By retweeting it, especially without your own comment, you’re not helping.

4. Since we’re on the topic of Twitter, I’m glad to see that Richard Roeper wasn’t fired by The Chicago Sun-Times for buying Twitter followers. The buying of followers, disclosed in a New York Times story last week, isn’t illegal, and has been going on for a decade. People are overreacting. I mean, it’s more embarrassing and sad than anything else, and equally the fault of publishers who want their employees to get a lot of followers and to tweet and post on Facebook a lot and “brand” themselves and go viral. I wonder how many fake followers the Sun-Times had.

What this shows is how nothing good can happen when publications – and their writers – put so much emphasis on social media and clicks.

5. And in this week’s Saturday Evening Post column, I talk about Crock-Pots, Nutella riots in France, cartoonist Mort Walker, New England vs. Philly foods, and explain how the ’80’s band Marillion might have something to do with those Bud Light “Dilly Dilly!” commercials.

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