As any half-aware simpleton will doubt-less tell you, the Fall of News has at long last come upon us. Indeed, for once, the cretins have the right of it; my bronze ear-horn, which once resonated day and night with the metallic shriek of The Onion’s implacable and limb-shearing steam presses, now strains to discern even the moist plop of editors jumping to their long-overdue deaths from what offices remain in our brooding gray tower. At first, I thought perhaps I had finally drowned the Public under the sheer weight of thundering, noisome twaddle with which I have traditionally filled my news-paper, but no—indeed, as I shall explain, their insatiable hunger for thundering, noisome twaddle has but doubled and redoubled in recent years. Soon, old Billy Hearst shall certainly pop his clogs upon learning how I have beaten him to the punch. He is free to kiss my ulcerated corns! For I now declare that the somewhat profitable but unwieldy sales vehicle which we call Journalism is all but dead, and I have replaced it with an ingenious new scheme known as the Social-Media!
I first heard of the social-media when it was given as the latest answer to the eternal question of what, exactly, my employees do all God-damned day. Naturally, not knowing exactly what social-media was, I had my solicitor, Beavers, procure an expert in this suspiciously contemporary field. However, I was not prepared for the appearance in my bed-chamber of a distressingly hirsute, copiously beard-oiled young gentleman of roughly 30 winters’ vintage, and initially summoned my Swiss guard to carve him into head cheese. However, Beavers beseeched me to stay my hand, saying the apparent carnival roustabout was in truth a suspiciously intelligent sociable-media wunder-kind! I satisfied myself by having him merely depilated, degreased, and brought beside my iron lung at axe-point, there to instruct me as to how The Onion should navigate the brambles and thorns of this new social-media land-scape, a region intolerably foreign to me.
It seems that this so-called social-media is nothing more complicated than the establishment of a public forum, or “plat-form,” upon which every plebeian member of the hoi polloi may post their every thought! As a news-paper man, a gentle-man of breeding, and an almost unspeakably rich man, this idea naturally threw me into a murderous rage. I spent over a century and took the lives of seven men, not to mention those of count-less mere employees, to establish this news-paper, and I will be God-damned for a Belgian round-head before I hand the keys over to the rabble!
But as the wunder-kind explained, giving equal power of expression to all is the same as giving it to none. From a curious sort of shoulder-bag, he produced an infernal calculating-engine, which I reflexively shattered with my brass walking stick. But after sending for a second calculating-engine, he showed me a particularly note-able socialized-media organ known as Facebook (after entreating me at length to observe the style of to-day, and to not hyphenate its name). He explained that Facebook is a globally vast, fanciful informational fiefdom, housed in the very aether itself. It is ruled by a modern potentate, regarded by the hopeful and incredulous as a savior, and by the more canny and cunning as a formidable robber-baron, a personage known as Zuckerberg, who sells ads.
And lo! Upon seeing this Facebook, I beheld a glorious morass of evidently random garbage, which I am told is properly referred to as “content.” My eyes roamed a hellish land-scape of mis-spelt thoughts and prayers; defiantly capitalized political messages, many apparently offering undying support for one version or other of the Confederacy; and, throughout it all, an ever-present garish confetti formed from photo-graphs of infant-stage cats, moving-picture starlets, monstrous trucks, sporting personages, assorted meals, contrived self-portraiture, and teeming throngs of children. I noted that a third of the participants were arguing, and employing a bracing variety of language to do so, the very sort of thing Beavers has implored me not to resort to in my own published writings. In short, every-one on the socializing-media is exerting tremendous energy to divulge every grubby detail of their little lives.
Suddenly, my news-paper-man’s instinct provided me with a great insight: These people are providing social-media with all their most intimate particulars of their lives, which my wunder-kind tells me is referred to as “personal data” and which I need no one to tell me is a pearl beyond price. Or, to be rather more practical, a very good price indeed, if proffered to certain bastard whoresons in whose hands truth is a malleable instrument of finance and whose integrity is ever for sale. These creatures are known as “marketing executives,” and I have since seen the slits in their reptilian eyes grow wide, their crooked jaws eagerly gnash and grind, and their pungent laps fill with hot, corrosive slaver at the very thought of the social-media; because, like Zuckerberg, they can use it to sell ads. At least to begin with.
So it is settled. After years of struggling to fill The Onion with digestible yet inflammatory pap, I shall capitulate to the dull-eyed masses and allow them to do it for me. The Onion shall become a social-media property! Where titans of reportage once trod, vulgarians shall argue incessantly, drowning each other in bilious ignorance! After all, I never cared much for titans of reportage who inevitably expect to be paid, and I do not need to employ them if the journalistic fruits of their labors are less valuable than zoetrope animations of pug-dogs falling over. I shall also dispatch a man-servant to eliminate this Zuckerberg fellow; while gormless, he may be too smart for his own good, and certainly for mine. And who knows? If this penny-dreadful firework-artificer Musk turns out to be real and not some social-media fever-dream, perhaps he shall be dealt with as well.
Also, if any of the gape-jawed imbeciles who laughably refer to themselves as The Onion Editorial Staff remain after six months, I intend to fire them any-way, as by then we shall have no need of them. If this business has taught me one thing, it is that the demand for content is cyclical, and we have written so very much “content” in my life-time that I am sure we can begin repeating it without any-one noticing.
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