The Social Media and Me

 

I recently did an interview on ESPN2’s Dan LeBatard is Highly Questionable. Dan is a Miami-based sportswriter and radio host, and I’ve had a great time doing his radio show in the past. So, when he asked me to join him as the first non-sports guest on the new, entertaining TV show he does with his father, I was happy to oblige. And, indeed it was great fun, and, as you can see here, it was a very amusing and entertaining seven minutes or so.

We taped the segment a few days ahead of time, and I was flying across the country when it aired on January 24. That evening, I went to YouTube to watch the interview, and I noticed that a couple of hundred people had also watched it. Among the things they saw was a story I had told at least fifty times before about having margaritas at a Mexican restaurant across from NBC when Wheel of Fortune was a daytime show about 30 years ago. We had very long dinner breaks, and I joked that, by the time we got back to work, we had trouble recognizing the alphabet.

In the morning, I decided to send the link to the YouTube clip to some friends so they could see the piece, when I noticed that a couple of hundred views had turned into many thousands. What I didn’t realize at that moment was that I had fallen into the Social Media Vortex. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, it goes like this: a couple of websites link to the clip with headlines like “Pat Sajak Drunk While Doing Wheel,” and the number of “hits”—or views—spikes to levels that gain the attention of those who monitor such things, such as all the wacky morning radio crews around the country. 

They all talk about it, and then you start “trending” on Twitter, further driving the hits into the hundreds of thousands, thereby gaining the attention of the so-called mainstream press. Before it subsides almost as quickly as it began, you find the “story” on ABC, CBS, CNN, and even featured on the NBC Nightly News. That’s right. A major national news organization decided that two guys laughing about having margaritas three decades ago was one of the items that should be featured on its nightly roundup of the top stories in the nation and the world.

The whole experience drove home a great irony of the Internet Age: while we are now provided with an almost infinite variety of voices and perspectives, we are also herded toward the same stories. Nearly all media outlets are now drinking from the same trough.  Somewhere in a small town in the Midwest, a little girl’s parents will record her as she pedals her tricycle over a cat’s tail, causing the cat to jump up on her head. The video will become a YouTube sensation, and the little girl and her cat will be flown to New York to appear on Good Morning, America and The Late Show with David Letterman. If she’s lucky, she might even make the NBC Nightly News.

Welcome to the future. It’s a very weird place.

There are 45 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CrowsNest

    While we are now provided with an almost infinite variety of voices and perspectives, we are also herded toward the same stories.

    A disturbing uniformity of taste and interest is indeed afoot. Even the infinite variety of voices is misleading–it is more like an infinite number of different voices speaking the platitudes of an ever-shrinking range of perspectives.

    The vocabulary with which to express a different opinion is diminishing (especially if your opinion is subtle), along with the marginalization of tastes that run counter to the dominant trends which threaten to make proletarians of us all.

    Also, Dr. Dre is not a doctor? Heresy. That’s like saying that Parliament never served in a governing body and didn’t actually have a mothership connection. Tear the roof off this mother.

    • #1
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    @Grendel

    To update Mark Twain, a lie can go twenty times around the Internet while the truth is still booting up its ISP.

    You’ll be happy to know the story, “Pat Sajak did ‘Wheel’ Drunk”, was in the entertainment news feed on the Verizon portal this morning.

    • #2
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    @Percival

    It is good to see you back, Pat.

    KC Mulville: If the story was about Keith Olbermann, who would care? · 6 hours ago

    Keith’s loyal viewers would care, KC. All seven of them.

    • #3
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    @Valiuth

    Yay! Pat Sajak. You know Pat you were one of the reasons I dished out 30 bucks to join this site. I always enjoyed your columns on here when I got a chance to read them, you should totally do a podcast…

    • #4
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    @Yeahok

    Pat is back. The Intel tab has produced another positive result.

    • #5
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    @HeartofAmerica

    Indeed it is! So good to see you back on here.

    Someone asked the question on here the other day about what led us to Ricochet. I couldn’t remember at the time but it’s all coming back now…it was you. I saw a link to one of your postings, followed it here and discovered Ricochet.

    • #6
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    @LeslieWatkins

    I guess it’s the headlines that get you, huh? I was drawn in: PAT SAJAK ADMITS TO BEING DRUNK ON WHEEL (so THAT’s where he’s been!) only to find what was obviously a throw-away line, joke, etc. I find the AOL headline writers to be the worst in this regard, hyping stuff to the point of misleading. So glad to see you back on the site, Pat!

    • #7
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    @Pseudodionysius

    Release the Sajak

    • #8
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    @Charlotte

    Pat Sajak back on Ricochet: #thingsthatareawesome

    • #9
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    @flownover

    Olbermann jumped on whose head ?.. I must have missed something . Pat, is “Y” a verb ?

    • #10
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    @txmasjoy

    Pat, so glad to see this–you faced an attack from the headline hyenas, and handled it gracefully. I once commented here that you a Brave Little Toaster, and you are. Smiles!

    • #11
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    @Spin

    I heard this story 4 times on Friday! Three times on different radio stations and once on the Internet. I was wondering if you would say something about it here. Glad you did. I wonder how much of the play this is getting is related to your conservatism? You should join the local neo-nazi movement and see what happens.

    • #12
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    @LowcountryJoe

    “…although I’m hammered at this moment.”

    • #13
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    @Misthiocracy

    I agree that it should be taken as a compliment.

    Considering the amount of smut and scandal that get reported on an hourly basis, “Pat Sajak drunk once,” is virtually a Sunday School lesson!

    • #14
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    @Misthiocracy

    WHEEL!

    OF!

    CALIGULAN DEBAUCHERY!

    • #15
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    @DocJay

    Well so goes the will of Fortuna.

    • #16
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    @PeterRobinson

    P_T S_J_K,

    B_CK _T L_ST!

    HURR_H!

    • #17
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    @MrDart

    Dan & Papi are the only thing I watch on ESPN– outside of live sports of course. The interview pieces are always great fun– I’m just sorry Papi didn’t ask you to tell him about “your first kiss.” Did you see the outtakes Dan ran on Friday, Pat? Heard from Trebek yet?. Great stuff.

    • #18
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    @Casey
    Peter Robinson: P_T S_J_K,

    B_CK _T L_ST!

    HURR_H! · 31 minutes ago

    Pat, Does all your mail arrive this way?

    • #19
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    @Pseudodionysius
    Casey

    Peter Robinson: P_T S_J_K,

    B_CK _T L_ST!

    HURR_H! · 31 minutes ago

    Pat, Does all your mail arrive this way? · 4 minutes ago

    H_h.

    • #20
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    @Pseudodionysius

    Forget it, Pat. Its Tinseltown.

    • #21
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    @Pseudodionysius

    Glad to have you back Pat. I hope you’ll write more often.

    • #22
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    @DonTillman

    Yeah, but I gotta say…

    The visual of a thoroughly drunken game show is darned tempting. Comedy gold.

    • #23
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    @PatSajak

    Thanks, I will. And I will soon explain my absence.

    • #24
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    @KCMulville

    Good to hear from you again, Pat.

    Of course, if I were you, I’d take it as a compliment. The story made headlines mostly because Pat Sajak … Pat Sajak! … you know, that really nice guy on that pleasant show … may have had a couple shots too many.

    If the story was about Keith Olbermann, who would care?

    • #25
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    @HaakonDahl

    Somebody call David! We’re getting the old band together again!

    • #26
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    @PeterMeza

    Hey Pat you might enjoy this YouTube video.

    • #27
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    @MishaA

    I’m with the cat, you’re always welcome Pat!

    • #28
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    @Casey

    I have a similar story: 3 decades ago I had trouble recognizing the alphabet, 2 decades later I was drunk a lot, this weekend I’ve succumbed to something viral. The coincidences are almost creepy.

    • #29
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    @MelFoil

    A reporter, or researcher, who pretends not to understand hyperbole, while hearing (or reading) a colorful story, can suddenly have lots of juicy material to work with. They just remove the pesky context–maybe the storyteller’s attempt at humor–and they turn it into everlasting autobiographical testimony. Then, after they’ve done that, they wonder why people hate them.

    • #30

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