Stop Talking About "The Media"

For the love of God, just stop.

Photo: ManWithAToyCamera

If you follow media Twitter, you should get help. There’s something seriously wrong with you. I’m not sure whether you have some twisted fetish for chronic self-congratulation, or if there’s an evil aspect about you that enjoys watching desperate people try to build their brands through an off-putting combination of ass-kissing and precisely calculated outrage. Maybe you carry around a secret shame so severe that one of the ways you seek punishment is by subjecting yourself to a constant barrage of world-weary wisdom from a group of people for whom historic context goes back no further than the Bush–Gore debate? Whatever the case, there are so many different kinds of therapy these days, for so many different kinds of problem, that your specific malady is surely treatable.

In any event, that was not the point I originally meant to make when I started that sentence. What I was going to say was if you follow media Twitter, you will have seen, of late, a number of complaints on the part of its participants decrying the trend of referring to the media as “the media,” i.e. some monolithic culture whose actions are all performed in concert. This pissing and moaning should not be surprising — there is no profession whose members are as thin-skinned as the press, which you might consider odd coming from a group whose reason for being is to question the motives of the powers that be, but I believe there is some sort of textbook psychological diagnosis for that condition — but it is rather comical coming as it does from a group of people who are quick to explain how each and every detail will play with “the voters.”

I mention this not merely to point out the media’s massive hypocrisy (see also: the constant assertion of the industry’s vital importance to the safety of the republic contrasted with the immediate denial of any impact its coverage may have on the attitudes of the public when anyone questions that coverage) but to highlight an important fact that is being overlooked in this debate: There is nothing the media likes more than talking about itself. It can’t conceive of anything more fascinating than the minutiae of the media. The media can’t believe what an amazing, textured story the story of the media happens to be, how rich it is with meaning and detail. If you find a member of the media who hates to talk about the media please don’t tell anyone about her, because once the secret is out the media will be all over her, commissioning fawning profiles and describing her as if she were some exotic creature from a foreign land. (She will inevitably rocket to stardom: a good way to get ahead in the media is by condemning the media, because the media is wildly appreciative, and rightly so, of self-loathing; but a surefire path to success is to express indifference, because the media cannot even conceive of someone who has only apathy for the profession.)

In any event, my point here is that people in the media don’t really care if you call it “the media” or not. They just like talking about the media and they will use whatever excuse they can to continue to do so. Moments after this idiot diatribe goes live and spreads through the various Slack channels where the media is issued its secret marching orders I will receive any number of notes accusing me of cynicism, overgeneralization and inability to fully appreciate the real significance behind the story. (Remind you of any monolithic culture whose actions are all performed in concert? You know who I’m talking about.) Right or wrong, it should provide a topic for discussion on media Twitter. I guess this will be a good way for you to find out just how much you hate yourself, because if you see it playing out the answer is you hate yourself a lot. Seriously, get help.