Monday, January 22, 2007
"I suffer from YouTuber Audience Syndrome....It finally
dawned on me that I needed to include more sex and gore, more
self-deprecating trips and stumbles, and more trifling mentions
of characters and celebrities the readers are familiar with. I
asked [my editor] to name his favorite cartoon character. He asked
me if I knew who Scooby-Doo was. I don't, but I didn't tell him
that for fear of getting the axe. And I mention Scooby-Doo here
twice in self-defense."
by Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Three times I sat down this past week to write an article. They
were an article about legalization of drugs, an article about
the coming Inquisition arising from genome research, and the one
I published, The American Philosopher Interviews: Meir, Sadat,
Carter and Dawkins, which was a failure.
One always hears about writer's block, but I do not suffer from
writer's block. I suffer from YouTuber Audience Syndrome, YAS
for short. Even the acronym haunts me these days. It is a hideous
condition for writers. How to cut down the number of words, sentences
and paragraphs to be cogent enough and, for my editor, brief enough
so I might plausibly be read?
Here is the problem as my editor has described it. My last article
got plenty of "hits". But, as my editor, Jason Miller,
said to me in no uncertain terms, hits don't mean jack shit if
the surfer only spends an average of 45 seconds looking at an
article that you and I both know takes a minimum of three minutes
to read. It finally dawned on me that I needed to include more
sex and gore, more self-deprecating trips and stumbles, and more
trifling mentions of characters and celebrities the readers are
familiar with. I asked Jason to name his favorite cartoon character.
He asked me if I knew who Scooby-Doo was. I don't, but I didn't
tell him that for fear of getting the axe. And I mention Scooby-Doo
here twice in self-defense.
In our society for the last ten or fifteen years there has been
much discussion, lamenting and even dire warnings about the growing
gap between the technology haves and the technology have-nots.
Our society has been deluded by intellectuals and pundits into
thinking, those who have technology will morph into beings so
far superior to those who do not have technology, the haven'ters
will be left behind choking on digital dust of the havers. Prophesy
is again becoming just another hack's enterprise with little credibility
even for the credulous majority among us.
I actually am now quite convinced by my own experience in these
surly and morbidly mundane matters, that it has been less the
intellectuals than it has been the pundits spreading this contrived
and contorted lie. It is simply true because there aren't enough
intellectuals left to flesh out a two-man bicycle and a canoe
at the same time. The Harvard finishing school's Al Frankin and
the Vermont medical hack Howard Dean are the closest the Democrats
have been able to come Adlai Stevenson's intellectualism, missing
that measure by more than two slowly crawled country miles carrying
an infant and dragging along a toddler.
These YouTubers apparently only need to read the title of an
essay. And thus, having the prescient fundamental properties of
the Universe readied and the safety off, they then provide an
omniscient ying and yang upon the stupidity they perceive, often
worth an essay twice as long as the original essay. Their thoughts
intended for the author are... No, their thoughts are always more
illuminating than the author's meager content. And, I among all
these other better authors here on Thomas Paine's Corner must
say, the most rewarding experience we have is reading the comments
to our articles. This is where I really learn and life begins
What is truly amazing, no, I mean, what is catatonically dumbfounding,
is, were any of these modest and sincere authors in the alternative
media writing for Thomas Paine's Corner ever offered CBS's Steve
Hartman's Assignment American special-ed reporting job; Correspondent,
Scott Pelley's dumb-it-down to a level of a dog job; or even The
CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric's smiling "Hi, every-body,"
Prozac position, we would surely be disposed to decline, simply
because the comments we get on our comment boards are so rewarding,
and, well, really, what we live for day to day. Interactive is
Each of us also knows, the visual media is taking over; print
is gone, and the alphanumeric is quickly becoming as widely understood
as Sanskrit, again, having been left behind in the digital dust
of this age. But of all of us here, I for one am not going to
switch over to a YouTube format until viewers can comment with
an inset of their own visual media. This is the age that will
be known for the licentious liberation of the most surprisingly
inserted objectivity, the most creatively bizarre head-conk, and
for the Great Masters of Expressionist Writhing. I am quite ready
for the transition. I am ready knowing, if I am not ready, I stand
a good chance of becoming handicapped with a digital deficit that
might put me so far behind I could never catch up.
This is an age of genius and invention that will eclipse all
other ages by striding in single, confident and magnificent steps
that each alone will exceed all the more minor accomplishments
of all previous ages combined. It will forever be known as the
Dark Age before YouTube and article comments. These beneficent
blessings may disappear from the web after a while. But, rest
assured, they will be back. I expect they will arise again in
the form of an exquisitely adorned history. Perhaps in a Time-Life
documentation of this miraculous age that will be viewed by viewers
for thousands of years, exactly like what was passed on in oral
tradition and, then read in The Odyssey, the author whose modern
namesake has obliterated any significance making it worth mentioning
If I write anything more, I will have exceeded my allotted space.
So I must end here, sit before the computer screen and await the
comments to come.