Daniel Wagner at The Backhand Shelf blog had a sort of interesting (if you’re into that kind of thing) post about the twitter account and tweeter HockeyyInsidrr, and the supposed outing he/she/it has gone though recently.
And when I say ‘if you’re into that sort of thing,’ I mean blogger battles, twitter outrage, and debates about the oxford comma. We have been though this before. If you are at all familiar with the name Eklund and the site Hockeybuzz.com, you probably already know about the outing of the anonymous hockey blogger who claimed to be an insider by Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski (then writing for the no-longer-in-existence AOL Fanhouse). The names have changed, the medium is a little different, but this is still the same thing, regardless of the legitimacy of the person or people involved. It’s hockey fans and bloggers (who, make no mistake, share the same venn diagram, but are not the same thing) being pissed off at people who may be making things up.
I don’t really care that much. I don’t hinge my existence on twitter or rumors, so I don’t pay a lot of attention to these guys. They only darken my door when someone else has payed enough attention to retweet or quote them. If you don’t pay attention to them, they don’t exist. While the internet is open to the asshats we complain about, people like Eklund and HockeyyInsidrr don’t come to us, we choose to go to them. We legitimize them by patronizing them.
I’ve seen plenty of experiments where people set up fake accounts to publish fake rumors and watch from a distance who would fall for it. It’s nothing new, and has been done in other mediums to greater and more artistic effect. War of the Worlds is a simple and classic example. And if you are going to follow Orson Wells, you had better do it better than most of these jokers are doing. We know it works, and it will always work. If you don’t believe me, know that a Buffalo radio station did a recreation of War of the Worlds in 1968, and it worked.
Something Daniel wrote at the Backhand Shelf blog stood out to me:
If something does happen, you don’t need to know about it the second it occurs and you don’t need to know about the possibility of it happening beforehand. Even if the rumours that HockeyyInsiderr posted were real rumours, it wouldn’t matter. When a trade or a signing does occur, the local beat writers will likely get wind of it first or one of the professional insiders will hear about it through an agent or a GM and it will actually be confirmed. And they won’t need a hashtag to say it.
There are two subsets of hockey fans I can think of that want the up-to-the-second information and rumors:
1) Hockey fans who want to stay ahead of the Joneses. They can have many reasons, but some of those are going to be character defects like being smug and condescending to those that aren’t in the know. That doesn’t apply to everyone, it’s just part of this group.
2) Hockey Bloggers.
Yeah. Who needs to know things right away? People who have to write something timely. Everyone is on deadline, and while they don’t have deadlines in the same way the MSM does, bloggers have the deadline of relevance. If you aren’t timely in your blogging, you will be left behind. So we have alerts set on our phones, we check twitter and RSS readers all day, and yes, we occasionally bathe ourselves in the dirty water of “reports” and unknown sources. That just leads, to carry the analogy too far, death by dysentery.
There was a recent post by the NPR Ombudsman about NPR covering it’s sponsors. Could NPR be fair when it handles news about the people who supply it with funds to keep going? The question is what standard should NPR be held to. But the conclusion was that eventually, you just have to have faith. You have to have a little faith that NPR will do the right thing, because you can’t be 100% certain that they will do otherwise.
And we need to trust our resources, or leave them behind. You shouldn’t spend money on things you don’t care for, you wouldn’t buy food you don’t like the taste of, so why would you read and believe someone you know isn’t trustworthy? Why would you follow someone who can’t or won’t prove they are who they say they are? What is the value in that? What is the cost?
In a few years, we will have another medium, and another bozo acting like someone they aren’t. It’s they way of the internet. And it only matters if you let it matter.