The Internet Made Me Do It

I didn’t want to post this story. But it was on the Internet, you see. I had no choice.

William Raspberry blames bloggers for, near as I can tell, just about everything:

The explosion of the Internet leaves us, in effect, with no gatekeeper. Sometimes important information gains currency that way. The problem is that anyone with Web access can run any cockamamie story up the flagpole — and if enough people salute, prompt the mainstream press to deploy its resources.

It’s that bad — and it isn’t likely to get better any time soon.

It’s okay, Mr. Raspberry. I’m here to help you. You too can overcome the awesome power of TEH Internets. Here’s the first step. Take a letter:

Dear Self:

You work for the Washington Effing Post. You are, de facto, one of the most powerful people in the country. Yet you consider yourself at the mercy, somehow, of (just to pose an example) a dumb girl from a hick town in Wisconsin who posts stuff on her web page. She’s flattered, believe me, but she’s also kind of embarrassed for you. Have a little pride, self. Are you really so easily persuaded?

Self, be honest: You kind of want to run the sleazy stuff. You wanted to spew slime all over John Kerry and Bill Clinton, you wanted to write about how an airliner never crashed into the Pentagon, about how George Bush was wired at the debates. But doing that made you feel dirty inside, and so you hunted around, and you found your excuse: It was on the Internet! That’s it! The Internet leached up from your keyboard through your fingertips and into your bloodstream, and it was like that ear-thingie in Star Trek: You suddenly had no will of your own. You HAD to publish it! It was on the Internet! And to the tune of “Blame Canada” you began to sing, ‘Blame Powerline!’ and all was right with the world!

Trouble is, self, it’s a load of crap and you know it. You don’t want to publish something? Don’t. Afraid you won’t respect yourself in the morning because you wrote about Kerry’s supposed “affair” with an intern? Don’t write about it. Don’t give me any guff, self, you know that it is that simple.

Self, you excoriate the Internet’s political activists for lacking in restraint. Where is yours? Do you think your readers don’t see through this pose? They manage to leave the Internet without being affected by its apparent mind-control powers; what is wrong with you that you feel the need to jump to the Internet’s magical tune?

The next time a story comes up that you don’t feel like dealing with, there’s a very easy way to remedy your everlasting angst. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and commission a series of stories on candidates’ health care proposals instead. You can do it, self. You have the power.

Love always,

Bill

Now, read that to yourself each morning in the mirror, and the next time you feel the urge to blame people amusing themselves at their keyboards for what the Washington Post does with its bazillions of dollars, remind yourself that even stupidity must, at some point, reach its limits. Then dust yourself off, and go back to work, and try not to be such a goddamn wimp.

A.