“This desperate need to keep score has ruined things that should have been groundbreaking and thrilling.”


Lots of thoughts will be provoked reading this. I recommend you do just that. Thanks to the Bookseller for the link.

Volume 2, Issue 93: King of You, by Will Leitch

“Who said it’s easy? Language is losing.”

… There are new people in charge of the church youth league basketball this year, and they’ve come up with a radical new way of keeping parents in check, and even of watching a sporting event entirely. The first game of the season was last week, and all the parents sat down on the pull-out bleachers as our kids warmed up beforehand. They dribbled and ran lay-up lines and tossed up half-court shots (my son’s favorite pregame activity), and then came the introductions and the prayer and the opening whistle.

As my son William dribbled the ball up the court, I instinctively looked to the scoreboard, to see how long each quarter was, to see whether his team’s score was the home team or the visiting team. And I realized … I couldn’t see the scoreboard. The new league organizers had angled the clock and scoreboard toward the court and away from the seating area, so that only the players, the coaches and the referees could see it. Fans in the stands could not see the clock, the quarter or, most important, the score. We were watching the game … and that’s all we were watching …

But it’s not about youth sports.

Twitter was initially conceived merely as a real-time communication device, a way for friends to find each other at crowded events like South by Southwest, an alert system for where you were and what you were up to. I mean, Twitter itself is an absolutely amazing service: I can communicate with hundreds of thousands of people, anywhere on the planet, in a matter of seconds. That’s incredible! But the problem is that they put numbers on there, follower counts, likes, retweets, ratios, and once they did that, it turned a revolutionary communication device into just another dick-measuring contest like everything else. It is always baffling to me how much time and energy otherwise intelligent, thoughtful people will put into making sure they get as many likes and retweets as possible, and how despairing they get if they fail to do so. I feel obliged to point out that you do not, in fact, get paid for this: It’s not as if you get a nickel a retweet or something. You only get an empty endorphin rush that just makes you want another one. When you take a step back from it, basically Twitter has convinced thousands of people who get paid for creating things to hand over their most immediate thoughts—and so much of their emotional capital—for free. It’s bizarre. And it’s increasingly self-destructive.