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Ten Paragraphs for the YouTubers

Don Robertson
Thomas Paine's Corner
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

1/20/07

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 anew.

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 beingness.

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 his name.

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.

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