Now that all forms of human endeavor are over for the year, it’s time to look back on the 2010 that was. Okay, it’s time for other people do that, since my disconnection from popular culture makes more less of a broad-survey kind of guy and more of a fleeting-obsession-that-I-try-to-talk-to-the-cashier-at-Taco-Bell-about fellow.* On a break from compiling my list of Best Innocent Remarks Made By Strangers That I Thought About Until I Convinced Myself They Were Veiled Threats of 2010 (Part I), I ran across this article in AdAge, in which Matthew “Nondairy” Creamer submits three works for the Best Media Writing of 2010: The Social Network, Kanye West’s Twitter feed, and an Xtra Normal video made by Mat Bisher and Jason Schmall. Seriously, do all ad executives have hilarious names? Even more seriously, the confluence of these items might just sum up the entirety of our culture’s relation to digital media in three neat pieces.
First, there is the credulous self-wonder. In an effort to explain Aaron Sorkin’s “cadence” in the screenplay for The Social Network—a cadence he might enjoy because it’s the template for dialogue in the vast majority of advertising aimed at 18-35 year-olds—Creamer excerpts a scene in which the Mark Zuckerberg character deliriously explains the possibilities of the nascent Facebook to his co-creators. The features Zuckerberg imagines aren’t just hilariously age-inappropriate;* they’re also non-existent. Yet everyone in the room agrees that A) these things are awesome and definitely will happen and B) they thought of them, too. If a better metaphor for the relationship between the press and social media entrepreneurs was ever constructed, I haven’t read it.
Second, there’s the tedious reality. Creamer combines several consecutive tweets from Kanye West to create a rambling, vaguely insane paragraph that suggests what people really use the virtual champagne room for. As usual, Kanye tweets like a Rorschach blot that came to life and inadvertently saw itself in a mirror:
I don’t trust anyone but myself! Everyone has an agenda. I don’t do press anymore. I can’t be everything to everybody anymore. I can’t be everybody’s hero and villain savior and sinner Christian and anti Christ! Everything sounds like noise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE NOISE!!!!!!!
So, you know, A) stop asking Kanye to be your antichrist and B) don’t try to tell me that Twitter is changing anything fundamental about western society besides our use of punctuation marks. Everything does sound like noise, which creates ample opportunity for various shysters to make a living interpreting that noise. This brings us to the third vertex in our triangle: bullshit. In terms more vitriolic than measured, Bisher and Schmall convey the ease with which any hipster with a Tumblr account can capture the fevered imaginations of an aging ad agency. The Xtra Normal software does profanity better than any human actor in history. Sorry, Chevy Chase.