Why I Won't Talk

A recent article in a local newspaper had some kind things to say about this site, and we’re very pleased with the reaction. It’s a testament to the hard work that the those of us at this site — David and Choire, sure, but particularly the amazing and talented contributors who have offered us their wonderful work without worrying about compensation — have put in over the last couple of years and, hopefully, an inspiration to everyone else with a large vision but a dearth of resources. Still, one small bit has caused a number (that number is three) of people to wonder why I, “the mysterious Mr. Balk,” am “never interviewed for quotation.” There are several reasons, and I am happy to use this forum to set the record straight.

Journalistic Ethics: Perhaps that phrase should be in quotes. I have no sense of what journalistic ethics are, being neither a journalist nor particularly ethical. However, this policy did indeed have some sort of semi-noble goal at its outset. Several years ago I took a job where the majority of my work involved covering the media. My feeling then — and it remains the same now — is that if I reported on a story I should never be a part of the story, even tangentially. I want to make it clear that this is a strictly personal decision; I don’t judge anyone else who does things differently. But my own conviction is and was that the only time you should see my name was in a byline, and the only analysis or comment made should be in that bylined story. I just didn’t think there was any need to become an “expert” or someone who talks to someone else to help form a media consensus. That is probably either old fashioned or ignorant, and I’m happy to plead to both. Either way, the policy worked well, because

It Is Absolutely Horrifying To See Your Name In Print: If you’ve ever had the experience, you’ll understand. No matter how brilliantly they write about you or how flattering the topic, there is always the immediate feeling of being kicked in the stomach. I don’t know why it is, but even if there were a headline like “EXECUTIVE ORDER GRANTS ALEX BALK LIFETIME WORTH OF BLOWJOBS,” I would still get incredibly queasy. Then I would grin like a motherfucker, but that’s another story. So anyway, I realized how much I liked not being quoted, which is a good thing since

I Tend To Say A Lot Of Stupid Shit: This is not any kind of false humility. You have NO IDEA what kind of ignorant, nonsensical crap comes out of my mouth. I mean, look at the stuff I write; that ostensibly requires some thought. Can you imagine how ridiculously ill-informed I sound when I don’t have the filter of seeing what I’m putting out there in the first place? I am every reporter’s dream interviewee, because I will talk and talk and talk and basically write the article for them with my idiocy. And who needs that? Also

All The Rape Jokes: Pretty self-explanatory. I’m the worst. Finally, and most importantly,

I Have A Gigantic Ego: It is hard to believe of someone who is so chronically depressed, bent on self-destruction, and quick to dismiss the work of others while nursing staggering insecurities of his own, but it’s true: I think I am super-fucking awesome. And this is NOW, when all I do is write on my own website. Can you IMAGINE how insufferable I’d be if I saw my name attached to a quote as some sort of expert? Do you have any idea how impossible it would be to deal with me if I somehow managed to watch myself OPINING ON TV? There would not be a flatscreen big enough to hold my giant, beautiful head! I am a raving egomaniac, and the only saving grace on that score is that I know exactly how susceptible I am to flattery and my own self-promoting ways. My staying away from the press is much like Bruce Banner trying to remain calm; terrible things will happen if I don’t.

So instead I write thousands of words on the Internet about things that I’m usually only half sure about. But you know what? I do it really, really well. I mean, I’m kind of the best. So there’s no actual need to do press; I come off amazingly just by doing what I do.

And there you have it.

Your humble servant,
Alex Balk
King of Awesome