I was one of the earliest pioneers of the Internet.
I founded WorldNetDaily.com, later shortened to the more manageable and memorable WND.com, in 1997.
Before that I had experimented with launching other sites – back in the days when the few people actually visiting the Internet were nearly all on dial-up connections. There were only 1 million computer users hooked up to the Internet worldwide back in those days.
How long ago was this? How much has the Internet landscape changed?
Back then, the largest, most heavily trafficked website in the world was MSNBC.com. Many observers thought this juggernaut corporate combo of Microsoft and NBC could never be approached by competitors.
Today, MSNBC.com ranks 2,295th worldwide and 530th in the U.S. – well behind WND.com.
That’s what I love about the Internet. It’s volatile. Unless you are trying to set up a government site for Obamacare, the cost is low. Because of the viral nature of the Net, good content is often rewarded with traffic.
That’s the good news.
What’s the bad news?
Aberrant sites like Gawker.com.
What’s my beef with Gawker?
It’s mean-spirited. It’s irresponsible. It’s childish and immature. I’ve never said any of that before, because there are lots of sites like Gawker that have no redeeming social value. I never think about them. I never visit them. But I did this week when one of their talentless bloggers went after WND – and me personally.
You can see it for yourself, but I would caution you the coarse, vulgar language and name-calling is pretty rough. Don’t blame me. I’m just the target. Visitor beware.
It’s never pleasant to be accused of something as ugly as racism. But I’ve gotten used to it since 2008, when Barack Obama’s cheerleaders began hurling that epithet at political opponents like it was wealth that needed to be redistributed.
But there is it again from the know-nothings at Gawker.
Do you know what else is sad about this kind of venomous, personal, ad hominem, groundless attack? It comes from a website that actually attracts a lot of viewers. What does that say about the intelligence and discernment of its mainly American audience?
And that’s why a part of me – an early Internet entrepreneur and pioneer – is starting to hate the Internet.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not Hillary Clinton. I wouldn’t want to shut down websites I don’t like or, as she put it in the early days, with me in mind, that the Internet needs a “gatekeeping function.”
I just sometimes long for the day when people who communicate for a living had some professional standards guiding them. I wonder if people like this Gawker guy would allow his children to read his posts – if he has children or knows any. I guess it would be even more disturbing if he would or does. What are their standards? Do they have any? Is it supposed to be funny? Name-calling, uniformed mockery and vulgarity might get a cheap laugh from the low-information crowd. But is that the point?
You might think people who make their living with trash talk would at least stand up for free expression by others – even those with whom they disagree. Even that minimal standard seems to be out of reach for these bottom feeders.
I guess you just have to go back to the dictionary definition of “gawker” to understand what the site is all about.
I quote from Dictionary.com the one and only entry for the word: “a spectator who stares stupidly without intelligent awareness.”
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