The Tech Media’s Complete Loss of Rationality

By  |  Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm

I have been sitting here watching in disbelief over the past few days, feeling somewhat embarrassed about my profession at large.  Much of the tech media that has been tripping over themselves to treat Dan Lyons’ satirical movement to bring AT&T’s network to its knees as something akin to the Boston Tea Party — a defining moment that affects real change.

It’s been called by some as a “grassroots movement.” Another says that this, and I quote, “should be big lesson to any company about how social media is changing customer relations.” Others are lashing out at Lyons himself, calling him irresponsible for using his blog for exactly what it is, a satirical look into the world of Apple. To say the amount of bloviating on this topic has been astounding would be an understatement.

Earth to the media: Dan Lyons is a satirist, not Che Guevara!

Lets be clear here: there is absolutely no evidence that “Chokehold” will be anything more than a blip on AT&T’s daily graphs of data traffic. All of the hype surrounding the event has been manufactured by the tech media itself — and unfortunately, by some who have a large readership and lots of influence — and not by Lyons himself. If anything, I believe Mr. Lyons has been unfairly attacked and criticized for something that we have all essentially foisted upon him.

Remember that Facebook group we talked about in our initial coverage? It’s only up to 3,800 members — way smaller than other protest groups which have effected real change. If we are going to gauge participation by social media, we should look to Twitter too. A cursory look shows a lot of discussion, but its exactly that — talk. Call me skeptical, but its very hard to get an actual effective protest together. People are just too lazy these days, frankly.

If this is even in the least bit successful, we shouldn’t thank its creator. Rather, we should blame the tech media for making a huge deal out of a joke. Have we become so desperate for news that we’re practically manufacturing an event?

No, I’m not denying AT&T’s network sucks. In a lot of the country it does. But its not that bad that its going to bring hordes of people to the point of streaming their hearts out at 12 noon pacific tomorrow in some wild attempt at sabotage wireless data style. It’s just not going to happen. It’s time that the tech media takes a step back, and turns the hype machine off. Our readers deserve more than this.


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. sfmitch Says:

    Amen Brother!!

  2. John Baxter Says:

    Thank you for the sanity, Ed. (I was distracted while reading by the fact that you hit one of my pet peeves: the affect/effect problem. You were one for two: wrong in the first paragraph; right in the fourth.)

  3. DZ Says:

    Fortunately, I don’t classify myself as “media.” 😉 Not to mention, I already have zero AT&T service 3PM EST EVERY week day.

  4. Erik Says:

    If the hype machine got turned off, half the tech media would quickly shrivel up and die. The amount of actual in-depth analysis has been shrinking relentlessly, year after year. Geeks and gearheads may laugh at the shallowness of Britney-obsessed tabloids, but we follow our own celebrities with just as much zeal. Our celebrities are just more likely to be companies or operating systems than people.

  5. william Says:

    Excellent article. It would be interesting to be able to find out what fraction of iPhone owners have actually heard of Operation Chokehold. My experience is that the general public is pretty unaware of the “important” issues being discussed in the tech media.

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