But the worst part of the NBC performance wasn’t the
mistakes or the photo. It was the preposterous way it wrapped its arm
around anyone who read its story and said, tell us how you’re feeling.
The story about the fatal accident was accompanied by a poll that asked
readers if it made them “furious,” “sad,” “bored,” “thrilled,”
“intrigued,” or “laughing.”
“We are . . . ” reads a column alongside the story,
announcing the running results in large type, “85% sad, 5% bored, 5%
furious, 5% intrigued, 0% thrilled, 0% laughing.”
Stunts like this pander to the public in order to attract the elusive online advertiser.NBCchicago.com
boasts: “Our users have a distinct relationship with their city that
goes well beyond just calling it their residence. The city is part of
their identity. . . . NBC Local Media uncovers and connects our users
to all that the city has to offer so they can be true city
insiders. . . . We help our passionate local user base know more so
they can do more.”
My intro to the Internet in general came through Buffy fandom, and before that I’d read Salon and message boards and other stuff, but really, fandom was where I learned about Internet behavior. About pointless flame wars, “the lurkers support me in e-mail,” picking fights with Bigger Names Than You just to get hits, assumptions of bad faith, pseuicide (faking one’s death or illness), the dangers of sending money to complete strangers running their first convention, the way factions form and then break up, fannish entitlement, people flouncing out of communities only to flounce right back in a week later because they can’t stand not being the center of attention, the destructive vandalistic glee of groups of overcaffeinated users, etc, so on, also.
The 2004 election aftermath and the 2008 primaries were softened for me because I’d seen all that sort of crappy, dramatastic behavior before. So much of the Internet in one area is the Internet everywhere, which is why I laugh so hard every time a campaign lets you macro your own campaign signs or something. Why not just ask for the Obama boobies sign to be made? You might get it faster that way.
This is really simple, classic stuff. If you put up a poll with the option to be a shithead someone will take it, usually lots of someones. Which is why an Internet poll is just a completely dumbassed way of USING the Internet. This is par for the course for news organizations, who seemingly don’t hire people who use the Internet at all. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it has to be stupid. It isn’t 1994 anymore. There are more than six web sites out there and they don’t all have flaming logos. Jesus tits.