But On The Other Hand…

Man Enraged At Computer

My last post was about people needing to talk to one another more.

This time I’d like to take a moment to ask more people to shut their pieholes.

Baseball held it’s annual All Star Game (ASG) this week. Once upon a time, back when televisions were only occasionally in color and the news of the world was brought to you by Messrs. Huntley, Brinkley, and Cronkite, the ASG was, as they breathlessly called it, the Mid-Summer Classic. One of the things that made it so special was that it might be your only opportunity to see live some great player you had heard about but had never seen.

In their seemingly never ending attempt to make the game more “culturally relevant”, Fox Sports and MLB conspired to add microphones and headsets to a group of players so that the announcers and the players could talk in real time, during the game, about….well mostly it was a regurgitating roster of questions around the theme of if it was a dream to play in the ASG.

What insights we got. “It’s always been my dream”. I think your dream was to have the All Star Game appearance clause in your contract exercised. “I watched it as a kid and now I’m playing in it”. Imagine that, a professional baseball player watched baseball as a kid, who knew? “It’s so great to meet all the other guys”. Really? You play against them like ten times a year and you’re meeting them for the first time?

It was edging into foul ground to impose this on the players. It was fully in the stands down the first base line to watch it. I don’t care what the players said to each other, it’s not my business. And just like I know there is a full camera crew and craft services for every desert island “reality” program, I also know that having a live mic on you inhibits your actual conversation.

But amazingly there seems to have been a positive response to the cheap stunt… er…um…experiment. Me, I couldn’t help but think nothing was said by player or broadcaster that hadn’t already been voiced via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and probably Etsy for all I know.

Banalities ‘R Us!

The fact is that if you watch baseball, or any sport or artistic genre or especially politics, it’s hard to escape the thousands of opinions that spring up on the most minute of utterances by the stars or wannabe stars of that discipline. As has been said before, opinions are like a certain body part, everyone has one. The difference is that now there is a way to monetize them.

Tech companies force feed them to us, then goad us to respond.

And it’s hard to resist the temptation. Louie Gomhert stands on the floor of the House of Representatives and asks if the US Forest Service can change the orbit of the earth or the moon to help with climate change. How can you NOT jump on Twitter and call him a twit!

But calling him a twit on the Tweeter isn’t going to change the fact that he and his fellow twits in Congress nevertheless are IN CONGRESS. Pointing out their stupidity may make you feel good, but a couple of bucks to their opponents in the next election or a couple of hours spent making phone pitches for their opponents might actually effect a change.

Hey, you wanna have a barroom debate over who was the best centerfielder of all time (Willie Mays of course) while having a couple of beers at the local watering hole, I’m all for it. You wanna sit at your computer and pretend you have all the knowledge of the universe and can’t be wrong? STFU.

The only people who really care about your opinion are sitting behind their computers and trying to get money out of your pocket and into theirs one way or another. Thank you for your thoughts, now here’s a few words from our sponsor.

More amazing is that an entire industry has popped up from this phenomenon. Influencers. Frankly what they do is nothing more than what Betty White did in the early days of TV, but I’ve yet to see one who did it with Betty’s wit, empathy, and charm. Fact of the matter is if any of them did have her wit, empathy, and/or charm they’d have a much larger following, i.e they’d be on television. And yes I know, some of them have hundreds of thousands of followers. Betty had millions watching those ads and she was selling snake oil.

Recently there was a revival of the play Funny Girl on Broadway. It was the first time it had been revived which is not surprising as the show was composed to accommodate the vocal talents of it’s original star, Barbra Streisand. Not many actresses have that vocal ability. But revive it they did and Beanie Feldstein was chosen to star.

The result was not stellar. Professional reviewers put it kindly that she didn’t have the chops. The Twitterverse? It was open season on the poor woman. The nastiness was endless and often juvenile. I guess we’re not all past making cutting comments on a person’s body type. Soon enough her one year contract was cut down to six months. Then cut down again to the point she will be leaving the show at the end of July.

Did your mother never teach you that if you can’t say something good about someone don’t say anything at all?

We keep seeing again and again that what is written on the Internet can end up doing real world damage. That damage can be relatively benign like the latest scam from India where “reviewers” put one star reviews on Yelp and other review sites of independent restaurants and then extort those restaurants into sending gift cards in order to have the “review” removed.

Or it can be the president* of the United States tweeting encouragement to those trying to violently overthrow the government.

Remember, even downtown, voices carry

Shapiro Out


One thought on “But On The Other Hand…

  1. Mike, I strongly encourage you to submit this piece (edited appropriately) to the Wall Street Journal. I believe they will publish it, and it deserves wide readership.

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