Sensationalism and the iPhone: Where Did Thoughtful Blogging Go?Featured, Technology — By Andrew Oxenham on September 25, 2012 at 7:00 am
Incendiary pieces about Apple’s newly announced iPhone (the curiously-named iPhone 5) are a dime a dozen, that is to say, they’re extremely common and of no particular value. A quick internet search will return literally thousands of articles regarding the announcement. These articles vary in their level of incendiary-ness. It’s as if those in the cheer-on-Apple’s-downfall camp got together and decided to have a competition to see who could publish the most badly argued, least convincing, ludicrous articles. Whether you’re for or against the new iPhone 5 it’s clear that articles with titles such as The Disappointing iPhone 5: Is Apple Falling Behind the Competition? or Apple’s Big iPhone Disappointment swing to the extreme. Over-the-top sensationalism reached a fever pitch in articles such as The iPHONE 5 UNDERMINES western DEMOCRACY: 5 Reasons Why Owning One Will Be the Badge of an Utter Fool.
Media publications decided to spruce up their tech sections with drama-inciting authors like Dan Lyons, who begins his article on the iPhone 5 with the provocative line, “Somewhere up there, I can hear Steve screaming.” It’s as if, as soon as the words ‘iPhone 5’ left Phil Schiller’s mouth, editors-in-chiefs worldwide leaned out of their offices and shouted to their staffs “Get something on my desk in 10 minutes, I don’t care if it’s laughable…just make it sensational!”
When did sensationalism replace thoughtfulness? When did inanity become a legitimate substitute for sensibility? When did our culture spurn the value of simple facts and common sense (to paraphrase Thomas Paine)?
Now I can already hear the objections mounting up: “You’re such a fanboy, you just don’t like negative reviews about Apple.” Let me first note that I currently use a Windows Phone as my main cellular device (and I’m not the only one). I’m no more dogmatic about defending Apple than I am about defending anything that’s good and true. So long as Apple continues to make excellent products, I’ll continue toting their excellence. But the subject matter is not what I’m taking issue with. I’m taking issue with sensationalistic pieces. Whether the pieces prophesy the fall of Western Democracy or claim that a particular handset manufacturer has created the perfect phone, I object.
Thoughtful, well written pieces are hard to come by, but they are doable. This year’s iPhone insanity reminded me of a 2011 piece by one of the more notable Apple bloggers, John Gruber. In his piece, Mr. Gruber outlines a thoughtful opinion on Apple and a reason why they seem to be so successful at marketing. A more relevant example of thoughtful writing is Mat Honan’s piece over at Wired. Despite the linkbait-y nature of the title, Honan takes a unique and well thought out stance on the iPhone 5’s pros and cons. Agree with his arguments or not, one has to admit that the web needs more pieces like this. Let us hope the web will eventually trend towards thoughtfulness and shed this risible scene of sensationalism.