It’s 11:16 a.m. EDT. I just turned on my computer, and am sipping my coffee, about to tap out my first post of the day. As I wait to be connected to the internet, I pick up the front section of the Sunday New York Times, which I neglected to read last weekend because I became so absorbed in the Men’s Fashion Supplement, which always prompts a deep, philosophical question in my mind–to wit: Who the hell wears this stuff?
Times Men’s Fashion Supplement: “So after your plane crashed in the Andes, you ate your friends and dressed up like llamas?”
I’m scanning the front page when my eyes come to a screeching halt, and the hairs stand up on the back of my neck–even though I went to the barber last week, and they’re a little shorter than they were when the paper came out. A headline has set my heart racing–”In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop.” That’s right. Someone–or something–is killing America’s bloggers.
It was in the Sunday Times–above the fold, as they say in the newspaper business. It had to be true, right? I mean, it’s not like the Times is ever wrong, except for the Jayson Blair stuff, and the articles they ran about John McCain and a female lobbyist they printed without any, you know, facts to back them up, and the fake stories they published by Lynette Holloway on rap music, bilingual education and alien abductions of household pets. (Okay, The Times didn’t make the last one up–I did). Say it ain’t so, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.!
“Lynette–thanks for your comment on my post LOL! Hold on a second, someone’s at the front door. Oh my God! No–no–arggh!”
No, I think this story is too big for them to fudge the facts. And it hits home for me and for you and every other blogger in America today. Our lives are at stake. We’ve got to figure out who–or what–is killing America’s bloggers before it’s too late and we can’t redeem our promotional points or spend our “tips” on a pair of left-handed tweezers with compact mini-fridge from Brookstone.
New this month from Brookstone: Combination leg massager-speaker phone. Batteries not included.
I’ve got a few suspects in mind. Let me parade them before you, police line-up style.
1. Print journalists. Every time a blogger taps out a post in America today, he or she depresses the market for paid journalism. “Why should I pay you,” a modern-day Perry White yells at cub reporter Jimmy Olsen. “I can get content for free–free, I tell you!–any day on the so-called World Wide Web!”
Perry White and Jimmy Olsen
As a result, wages for print reporters have sunk from poverty levels to sub-poverty levels, prompting concerned residents of Sudan and Bosnia-Herzogovinia to send relief packages filled with goat’s milk and crunchy-style dung beetles to AP stringers across America. I know how hard it is to survive on news industry wages. As a reporter just out of college working on a story about welfare, I discovered that I qualified for food stamps–what a scoop!
“Where have I been? Stuck behind the stupid furnace, no thanks to you!”
2. Turtles. Don’t be so quick to count out our slow-footed “friends.” Box turtles are America’s most popular free pet, as kids bring them home after an afternoon of crawling through storm drains, give them names like “Sparky” or “Skippy,” then put them down in the basement with a bowl of water and forget about them.
But turtles are most dangerous when they’re the most adorable. During the first five to six years of their lives, box turtles are carnivorous. How do you think they catch the insects, snails, slugs, worms, fish, frogs, salamanders, rodents, snakes and birds they live on? Let me give you a hint–they don’t need a Segway.
“Faster! The turtle is gaining on us!”
3. La Cosa Nostra. Preposterous? Perhaps. Impossible? Don’t kid yourself. With legalized casino gambling sweeping the country, and increased recycling cutting into trash-hauling profits, the Mafia needs to find new sources of revenue every day. What better way than to muscle in on the lucrative business of blogging. Here is a redacted excerpt from an FBI surveillance tape recorded by a “wired” blogger at a WiFi hotspot at Vinny Testa’s, an Italian restaurant in Boston:
BLOGGER: taptaptaptaptaptap . . .
TONY “THE ICEPICK” GRAVANO: Uh, Mr. Blogger, the boss read your post about Mafia nicknames.
BLOGGER: Great–would you mind commenting on it? It will help put me on the front page.
GAETANO “JOEY POCKETS” DISALVO: Here’s his “comment.” He thought it was freakin’ stupid.
BLOGGER: Did he read the terms of service about “flaming”?
GRAVANO: No he didn’t read no terms of service. He don’t need to.
DISALVO: We notice you got an on-line “screen name”–Mr. “Gerbil.”
BLOGGER: Yeah–cute, huh?
GRAVANO: How’d you like to wake up someday with the bloody head of a gerbil in your bed?
4. Aliens from the THX 1138 Spiral Galaxy. There’s been a conspiracy of silence about UFO sightings in America since the 1950′s, long before the notion of blogging ever seized the American imagination and forced it to post its most intimate thoughts on a medium that can be accessed by highly-evolved beings through mental telepathy.
“Earthlings–We do not want your poems about seagulls!”
Still, exponential growth–estimated at 50,000 new blogs per day–has resulted in a volume of useless information that threatens alien immune systems and reproduction. “Either you shut down your ‘LOL Funny Schnauzer Pictures’ group,” according to a message received at the International Space Station, “or we will be forced to reverse Earth’s gravitational field using our hand-held Quark ‘n Gluon Dustbusters.”
“Are you coming to bed, or do I have to kill you?”
5. Angry Spouses. Criminologists will tell you that 70% of all murder victims knew their attackers, and bloggers represent particularly vulnerable targets. “Bloggers in their pajamas can’t run,” says Merle Walker, Jr., head of the Special On-Line Crime Unit of the Florissant, Missouri, police department. “They’re self-absorbed, planted there sipping their coffee or beer, glued to their screens, so they’re sitting ducks for angry spouses who sneak up and apply chokeholds on them from behind,” he notes. “When we survey the crime scene and read what the victims were about to post, the motive is usually pretty clear.”