Ryan Meyer has a general distaste for microblogging.

As I can only assume those daring to read this blog must know, Facebook semi-recently restructured its interface to more closely resemble the ultimate in instant communication and microblogging, Twitter. Oh, I’m sorry, this story is so 2 months ago? Well, would it still have been relevant if it were so 2 days ago? I pray, hear me out here before you flip channels to the promise of a hopefully flashier webpage, because time and the flow of information is the very subject of my inquiry here.

Being a somewhat avid Facebook user (mostly because I find myself with significant downtime at work), I was somewhat disappointed by this move away from the personalized, customizable social newspaper the Facebook homepage once was to the blur of instant status updates, wall p0stings and hyperlinks that characterize the microblogosphere (was that a word before now? Of course it was. Nothing is original anymore). I couldn’t quite put my finger on my ire until I read this article detailing the very nature of time on Facebook, namely that it was built upon pre-established relationships and past occurrences, while Twitter more heavily relies on this precise moment as spoken from whomever you find most interesting, regardless of a shared personal history.

Now, I should mention that I’ve never had a profile on Twitter – I’ve never been excited about the th0ught of it – and my only experience with it was to bounce around a few friends’ profiles just to get that twittery taste, to find out why these super intelligent/interesting/provocative people I know and enjoy feel the need to either endlessly broadcast their thoughts to no one or passively communicate with their fellow twitterers, to use my new found articulation of my frustrations with the microblogging application in order to greater understand its insurgent place in our culture. But then I read this article that purports to explain how one should be using Twitter to its greatest efffect. If you no longer have the attention span to click on the link and read the article, let me sum it up for you: Twitter is there to keep you up to date. Period. Big surprise, right? Yes, there are legitimate CNN/NPR newsfeeds that can give you up-to-the-fucking-micro-second updates on your favorite news stories (“9:18am: Craigslist murderer seemed like a nice guy; 9:22am: Craigslist murderer had pictures of puppies in his apartment.”), but, really, how important is it to stay that up-to-date? Will the world crumble if we the public hear about North Korea’s reinstatement of its nuclear program tomorrow morning as opposed to in 5 minutes? Oh my God, what on earth will we do without that information? Or, perhaps the better question to ask is, what on earth will we do with that information?

I already have a hard time figuring out what to do with news stories about people starving/dying/getting kidnapped in countries to which I have no clear or effective access. But when I’m given a headline as breaking news 5 minutes after it happens, the subtext is that I must know this information immediately in order to function in my daily life (car crash, brush fire), or at least because there may be something I can do to bring about its resolution (Amber alerts, elections). So when Wolf Blitzer twitters about the 25th case of swine flu found in some remote Chinese province before the story even ends up on the Situation Room, I just end up feeling neutered, useless, like there’s some kind of action I should be taking when there isn’t any. Like it’s not enough just to feel empathy for the person who contracted the illness.

Of course, it’s different when it comes to friends and personalities publishing humorous thoughts, interesting details, etc. But even with friends, it happens with such overwhelming frequency in such an impersonal manner that I guess I just don’t see much of a benefit for it. I do find entertaining the tidbit trivia it provides, or even the very tiny prison windows it allows into the tastes or even personality of the author, but in the end it just feels cheap and easy. Like information without a context. Ideas without explanations. In the end, this extended network of “friends” and their status updates – even the hard news stories from CNN – are made into entertainment for the short attention spanned. It’s the need to constantly feel connected to a fog of internet profiles without actively doing anything to make that connection meaningful or substantive.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to what they personally see to be the honest, real world benefits of such an application as Twitter beyond just the need to be up-to-date, because to this guy it just seems like the one night stand of communication forms: fun and loose, spontaneous, maybe even a little dangerous, but ultimately hollow and purposeless once you wake up in the morning. It’s almost as if people are willfully trying to obliterate their corporeal sense of self in favor of inviting a series of  “friends” classified as thus mostly for the sake of convenience but also out of necessity for the application to work (would you want to broadcast what you’re eating for lunch to 256 “acquaintances”?) to have constant and unmitigated access not so much to their thoughts as to the minutiae of their actions.

So if all we do is share the facts of where we are, what we just ate, who we are about to see, what url is the most lol, isn’t that like giving away your body without your mind? Isn’t that a little like prostitution?

I know to whom I’m speaking when I blog here: myself. I don’t pretend to know everyone or even anyone who is reading this, and as I said in my first entry, I mostly write to figure out and articulate why I care about the things I think about. It’s why I like writing longer entries, allowing myself the time and space to explore the nooks and crannies of my opinions. And I publish to give myself a sense of completion, an excuse to move on to other thoughts, and also to (hopefully though not too frequently) receive alternate perspectives on the subject from other readers. However, when we microblog, we’re not really figuring anything out, exploring a thought or even a specific personal connection, so who are we talking to? And even if we can identify the recipient(s), should we be talking as much as we are? Sure, someone in Buffalo is more than able to tweet a stranger – or even an old high school acquaintance – in Houston, but as Mr. Thoreau asked, what happens if all they have to share is that one of them has a whooping cough?

This may sound like I’m calling for the abolition of microblogging, when in fact that is far from the truth. I would never ask to eliminate any channel of communication from a free society. Furthermore, I firmly believe in the powers of the immediate internet, though I more firmly feel that the internet should act as an addendum to and not a replacement of true human interaction. What I fear here is a pollution of information streams with stories and headlines, either personal or political, that I am told are relevant simply because they are new, because they are now, even if said headline provides zero intellectual nourishment. Because in doing so, it becomes so much harder to decipher between that which is important and that which is, quite frankly, not.

Published in: on April 23, 2009 at 3:47 am  Comments (3)  
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the promise of missing the postseason

It was always going to be an uphill battle for the Kings to make the playoffs this year. Sure, we had that slivered glimmer of hope at the end of January/beginning of February, given all the more potency considering historically that’s the time of year when you start wondering how much scratch you could pull down for the remainder of your season tickets (of coure, if you’re a true fan, you never finish that wonder… partly because you know the kind of hit you’d take). But in the end, the team just didn’t have the juice to cross that finish line, jump those four hurdles otherwise known as St. Louis, Minnesota, Edmonton, and – fuck me – Anaheim. I hate fucking Anaheim.

But while many people might be disheartened by getting so close and yet so far, I for one am ecstatic by the fact that our boys in black didn’t cross the threshold into postseason territory. It’s not some masochistic desire left over from last years bomb to the bottom. See, for a team as young as ours, I want them to stay hungry for next year. I want them to have seen that door crack open, see the crooked finger taunt them into coming just a little bit closer, only to have them fall down the trap door underneath the rug, slide down the chute, and end up in the Pacific division dungeon with – gasp – the Phoenix Coyotes (another team I disdain). If they know how close they got after rebuilding/rebounding from such a horrible ’07-’08 season, then the appetite to go all the way in ’09-’10 will only be fed by the feeling that it doesn’t have to be a dream anymore.

See, the Kings have already made huge strides in the organization, and while I gotta give my propers to GM Dean Lombardi, the man I really want to kiss on the mouth is head coach Terry Murray. He took a team with arguably the worst defense – worst penalty kill, 2nd worst goals against numbers with 175 – and in one season pushed all the numbers up into the top 10 – 7th best penalty kill, 10th best goals against with 139. His focus on the defensive system and the “home base” spots clustered in front of their defending net gave the Kings a solid chance to win every night, especially after the deadweight of goaltender LaBarbera was shuffled off to Vancouver (for a measly 7th round draft pick – ouch!) and Ersberg, then Quick – especially Quick – were allowed to come into their own between the pipes. The aptly-named Quick proved himself to be a formidable rookie goaltender, in a way paying off the promise that Jonathan Bernier all-too-quickly instilled in fans after twin wins last season over the “defending cup champion” Ducks (man, I still hate saying that) that quickly became distant memories after subsequent 4-5-6 goals allowed losses.

And while Quick ended this season with a winning record, it wasn’t his play that kept the Kings from moving into that 8th seed in the west. It was the lack of offense. Perhaps it was only due to the attention to defense and checking  that was installed in the previous off-season, or the push for two-way play from previous goal-scoring superstars like Kopitar and O’Sullivan (who was sent to Edmonton in a trade that will always break my heart a little – Justin Williams better earn his keep next year). Either way, the Kings failed to generate the offense necessary to overcome the 1-goal deficits of which they found themselves all too frequently on the short end.

But, again, this is good news. While your best offense is actualy, despite the popular phrase, a good offense, you can’t build an offense from the center circle alone. It’s got to come from the blue line, and with the foundation already intact, especially considering the bright young futures of  Jack Johnson, Matt Greene, Kyle Quincy and, of course, Drew Doughty – who incidentally was just named to Team Canada for the IIHF World Champions and will most likely stick around for the Olympics next year in Vancouver – the road to a full team of 20 and 30 goal scorers isn’t off the map. We’ve already got Frolov, who had a team-leading 32 goals this year. Plus, considering Kopitar, Brown and Williams all had over 30 goals a piece last year (with both Kopi and Brownie scoring in the high 20’s this year), you’ve got some big guns in your arsenal who could definitely benefit from a little more offensive support and playmaking. And the weaponry doesn’t end there. Jarret Stoll and Michel Handzus have been stepping up their play both in the goals and face-off categories. Wayne Simmonds has continued his surprise rookie streak, scoring 3 goals in his final 5 games. Oscar Moller still shows significant promise, despite the major setback after being injured during his release to play as captain for Team Sweden in the World Junior Leage Championship last December. And our blue line boys have been playing their part, too, namely with major numbers in the assist column from Quincey, Doughty and Jack.

So what I’m saying here is the foundation is set. Quick is coming back, with Ersberg waiting in the wings. Doughty and Jack are holding the D. So let’s finish this remodel of the best hockey club south of San Jose (yeah, I’ll say it: I love San Jose, and I loved ’em before they got good… which happened, might I mention, under the guidance of then-GM – you guessed it – Dean Lombardi). Let’s pound in those pilings, lay up some dry wall and put the roof on this sucker. Let’s mix our metaphors and give these boys upfront some guns and a posse to back ’em up. And let’s take this pistol-packing homestead all the way to Lord Stanley’s cup. Build off the proven system and use the hunger from the disappointing finish to take us into an ’09-’10 playoff run and a ’10-’11 finals championship. And you can quote me on that.

~~~

But in the meantime, we got ’08-’09 playoffs starting up tonight, so I’m gonna give a few cents on the current matchups. This is all western conference stuff, since I don’t have as many opinions on the east (except to say that the pittsburg/philly match-up is going to be the SHIT, and the caps are going to best the east and push their way into the finals, against… well, read and see):

1) Blackhawks v Flames – the easiest call of the bunch for me. Blackhawks have the young guns in Toews and Kane. Flames have the hot hands in Camalleri and Iginla. Hawks are getting solid play from Kabibulin in net. But the Flames’ Kiprusoff leads the league in wins. I’ve loved the Hawks since the Ed Belfour days, but, come on, I don’t think these guys are quite ready for prime time. Expect a showing not dissimilar to the freshman Penguins falling to the 5th year senior Wings last year, except a little faster. Flames in 4. Yup. They’re gonna take it in Chi-town.

2) Wings v Jackets – It may seem from the above comments that I have an affinity for the boys from motor city. In fact, I have a general disdain for the Wings, mostly because I hate the arrogance of their self-proclaimed moniker “Hockeytown”. Really? Not Montreal, or Edmonton? Is it just because you have to get an impoverished community excited enough to pay for your overpriced tickets? Whatevs. I will say this about Detroit, though: they have an intense line-up of guys to defend their reigning title of champion. Thankfully, Osgood has been more like Os-okay recently, perhaps faltering just enough to give these surging Jackets the sliver of space to swoop in for the upset. It’s their first post-season hunt, and a hungry Rick Nash I think will prove himself to be a pillar around which the rest of the offense can rally. And let’s not even begin to forget the anchor that is Steve Mason, the upstart goaltender who leads this season’s rookies in shut-outs and will most likely take home the Calder trophy for best rookie (as much as I’d like Doughty to win it). Although, man, Detroit has such a deep line-up… Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Hossa, Franzen… aargh. Wings in 7.

3) Canucks v Blues – I secretly love the Canucks, and Roberto Luongo has been, as Bob Seger put it, like a rock in net (okay, I added the “in net” part). But the Blues are another upstart team that could upset their higher-seeded opponent. And the Canucks did falter quite a bit around the All-Star break, even after Luongo returned from his injury. While both teams have been pretty solid, I’ve always been a fan of Blues coach Andy Murrary since a) he coached the Kings to their last playoff appearance, and b) he reminds me of my grandfather. Now, perhaps you might say that family resemblance does not a playoff victory guarantee. I’d say, you obviously never met my grandfather. Blues are hungrier. I’m calling upset. Blues in 6.

4) Sharks v Ducks – did I mention I hate the Ducks? Never have I hated a sports franchise with such fervor and focus. They’re named after a fucking movie, for christ’s sake. And they’re just thuggish. They think they can just waltz in to Southern California – Kings territory – and just act like they own the place? Man, I hate the Ducks! Alright, back to the task at hand: San Jose just has too many weapons with too many veteran players putting in some of the best minutes of their careers: Blake and Roenick were both lackluster in their individual years down in L.A. but have found a way to turn it on up north. And Claude Lemieux still laying checks and getting in fights at the age of 43 after 6 years of retirement? I’m sorry, what’s that, son? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You sit back down and eat your Gerbers. Plus, with Marleau finally leading by example, Thornton consistently using his magic touch, and Nabi staying strong in the cage, the Ducks are going to have to rely on something other than George Parros’ mustache to get them out of this one. Sharks in 5.

Oh yeah, and while we’re on the subject of the Sharks, let’s talk Stanley Cup, because that’s what Marleau is going to be hoisting when they finish off the Capitals in 6 games. You can tell all your friends that you heard it here first.

That’s all for now, kids. Let’s rock this postseason.

Published in: on April 15, 2009 at 12:18 am  Comments (1)  
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