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Our Month of Magical Boredom
We could all do with more boredom, and I hope it is a sign of things to come.
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Nobody is happier for the boredom at the start of the year than I am. Email bounce-backs, closed restaurants, and a media cycle built on what, exactly? If you were paying attention on January 1, the Big Story of 2023 was C-SPAN, and the way that so many Americans had become enthralled by a political waiting game and Fight over the Speaker of the House. Oh, it’s interesting to some of you - but that’s a truly sick minority. For the rest? Go outside. Consider what you can influence in this downtime before the bells start clanging again. It is comforting that America’s leading story to kickoff 2023 is perhaps one of the most boring political dramas imaginable — and I hope that it continues. We could all do with more boredom, and I hope it is a sign of things to come.
Recession – don’t say it. We have erred between The World’s Worst and Nothing To Worry About every week this year. I’m not thrilled about it, but I refuse to let this dire news-cycle interfere with my boredom. Not for as long as I can help it. What are you going to do about it? None of it is fair, and it only holds up under the game of capitalism. You signed up for this the moment you were born. The rules are made up and only the referees are having fun.
There are layoffs already - in media and in tech. The question raised is: Why does America’s media industry always seem to do this? Well, the answer is: feature, not a bug. Media is cyclical in almost all ways, and the solution is simple: our workforce will be cyclical, too. I will take a break for the folks in Tech, though. That’s gotta be shocking. But no one gets to ride the rollercoaster forever – our bodies aren’t made for that amount of turbulence. Even when there’s hardly any bumps, it all takes a toll.
Real Journalism – that has me sparked up this year. The demise of All Gas No Brakes’ Andrew Callaghan – facing accusations of sexual misconduct – almost feels obvious. His apology statement is a perfectly curated combination of forgiveness and change. I will not tell you how to feel about it. Watch it for yourself. And yet here is a figure who was, and is still, heralded as the real proprietor of journalism, brave enough to ask questions of anybody and to go anywhere. And he may have done those things. Much of Gen Z has labeled Callaghan’s work the "future of journalism,” too. But this is only their perspective because previous generations had that style of reporting trained out of them by senior figures and editors during the 2010s. We all felt the backlash of giving anyone a microphone, and the solution was to be much more cautious. But at what cost? In the place of traditional media, a groundswell of influencers and single-person entities stepped in. For every anti-vax rally The New York Times refused to attend, a man was there with a YouTube channel.
The entire industry was so (somewhat rightfully) concerned about the impact of social media on journalism, and the rise of bothsidesism, that in its effort to fix things and be ethical it instead opened the door for a new branch of reactionary and bombastic media. Infowars, live streamers / YouTubers / and 2010 era “conservative is the new punk” outlets all exist in their current form because the style of media they champion was rejected and walked back from by others.
Maybe we’re in a moment of some course correction… The vibe shift has well and truly ended. Life is hard enough. People just want what they want.
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