Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Pundit A Day

The voices were muted, at least for a day. Shock stilled laptops, phone "lines" (is there even such a thing anymore?) buzzed as the chattering class grappled with an outcome from the one they anticipated. In a business where nano-technology drives hits, which drives income, which drives a career ever upward, tomorrow's headline (and the bulk of the column) was probably written yesterday. When the anticipated outcome comes out, a polish, a click and you get the first thousand views. Cha-frickin'-ching.

It didn't happen the way most people thought it would last week. We got twenty-four hours of bliss, with those brave souls offering unvarnished, unfocused thoughts and being, for once, readable.

It didn't last. Why?

Unlike the volunteer staff here at Bikecopblog (and the owner - you don't see any banners, do you?), many of the men and women who ply their trade on the wild, unruly Internet do not get paid if they do not produce. Production equals traffic. Traffic counts (believe me on this one) are directly proportional not only to how well one writes, but how often. Take a week or two off while, I dunno, vacationing in Mexico and you go from a very healthy monthly count to next to nothing.

So, to coin a phrase, pundits gotta pundit. You can't expect (no names, please) a far left writer who has a healthy following among progressives to suddenly start examining how a Trump presidency might not be so bad, right? To paraphrase Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind), people think with their hearts and then search for evidence to reinforce their conclusions. 

See, we're doing it right now. 

A person who put their heart and soul into Candidate A, who could envision the sweet sensation of total victory, only to watch the whole thing crash and burn... They don't want to hear how fabulous Candidate B was in the end, how humble and gracious. They want to know what happened - it being something other than the right numbers of people in the right states preferred the other person. That's just not acceptable. Who should be blamed?!

A woman associated with a modest newspaper operation in a Western NY city appeared on Facebook on Wednesday, bereft. She was a pro blogger, had used FB as a means to generate traffic (yeah, me too but for different reasons) and was furious. None of her efforts, hard as she had worked at them, had produced the intended results. Her candidate had lost. Even her vote didn't make any difference! Etc! She was going back to using FB as just a way to keep in touch with friends, share vacation photos and chuckle at the occasional meme.

Forget, for a minute, that NY went big for her candidate. She will come to her senses when her blog numbers plummet and her employer wants to know what she's going to do about it.

Which brings me to the central point. America finds itself far more polarized than at any time since the Insane Sixties. Here's my theory - pundits make no money writing about unicorns and butterflies. They make a ding-dong-dillion reinforcing the hardened views of their readers, basically giving voice to those who are horribly upset. You're a conservative who thinks Trump is a jackass? There are a few writers for that. Trump with a powdered wig would look a lot like the guy with the phallic-looking monument in Washington? Got that, too.

And everything else. 

I got an idea. How about, instead of copying, pasting and then telling good friends you've had for years, who've stood by you in good times and bad that they are "--ists," just because some asshole pundit with a keyboard and internet access says you should, that you just keep going, let them have their say and be happy you still are in touch. 

Yeah. I'm talking about me, too.

How about...I know it seems like I've had a few margaritas (I haven't, yet) about we celebrate the fact that they trust you enough to honestly disagree. They have different ways of processing information and they hold things in their hearts in their own way.

We had an election. The Constitution is very clear about what happens next. Turn off the pundits. Turn on your love light. Here in The States, we have it pretty damn good. 

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