Friday, March 10, 2006

Dumenco Opines: People Read Blogs Because...

Ever since I started blogging, I became a lightning rod for questions about the emergent technology: isn't a blog the same as a website? could anyone start a blog? and why would they want to? Now, media expert Simon Dumenco announces the answer to that last question: people read blogs because they want to get laid:
In this week's Media Guy column for Advertising Age magazine, Dumenco contends that knowledge of the hippest, hottest blogs can increase hook-up opportunities and boost sexual attractiveness. He maintains some people are using niche blogs such as Gawker.com and Defamer.com to gain pop cultural insights that make them more socially desirable and ultimately more likely to get lucky.
Picture it, Los Angeles, sometime last month. I'm sitting at a Coffee Bean with Nina Litvak, the co-writer of the new movie When Do We Eat (billed as the first Passover comedy, review coming soon...). A man at the next table, clearly also a writer, starts schmoozing with us..."are you guys comedy writers?" Nina explains that she's just co-written a comedy, and I say something along the lines of "I have a column in NY, and generally do a lot of writing, and a great deal of that is comedic." He looks at me, pauses, and says, "You're a blogger, aren't you." He said it just like that, no question mark at the end, just a period. He knew. And that was when I decided to dress a little nicer for the rest of my trip, and always put on some semblance of makeup, even if I was just going to the Coffee Bean. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if I looked like Cameron Diaz, no one would have assumed that I was a blogger. But in my jaunty cap, a sweatshirt, no makeup and jeans, and I was instantly identifiable. Which brings me to my point: blogs, and by extension, bloggers, are not perceived as sexy. As I've said before, after standing in a line of bloggers waiting for admittance to a screening of Serenity, "we are not a pretty people." Additionally, I believe that my blogs--particularly this one--have actually cost me dates. True, anyone who wants to know the real me will by definition need to understand and tolerate the blogginess of me. But there are those men who are easily scared by a woman who has a forum online and an audience of hundreds in which she can discuss any manner of dating-related customs, behaviors and miscellany. Never you mind if she doesn't actually discuss her own dates, relationships and specific personal behaviors the way some of her peers do. That the potential, the readership, is there, is enough. Couple that with my singles column in the Jewish Week, and it's a daunting media machine to come to terms with before a first date. So, although I hadn't ever intended it that way, acceptance of my blogs has become a prerequisite for dating, the way other people feel about having a guy get them a glass of water or opening a car door and waiting until they go inside. If anything, for me, involvement in blogging is impeding the lucky-ness that Dumenco seems to indicate that blogfollowers hope to get... Looks like I'm going to have to kiss a lot of blogs before I find my prince. No offense to the rest of the blogtribe, but I'm hoping that people don't always look at me and say, "You're a blogger, aren't you..."

4 comments:

writersbloc gal said...

i, for one, am elated that you're a blogger. how else would i have met you?

ninabeth said...

Ariana Huffington was on the Colbert show the other day, and she also said blogging isn't sexy. But both she and you are attractive, intelligent women bloggers. You're selling yourself short.
I don't think that guy was dismissive of your being a blogger at all. Bloggers like you are the cool gonzo journalists of the Internet age.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Thanks, WBG and Nina...

I'm the first one to admit that blogging has brought me some wonderful things and into contact with some amazing people. Blogging still isn't sexy, but that's not why I do it, to increase my sex appeal. I do it to expand my understanding of myself and the world I live in...and if I stumble across some sexiness on the way there...I'll take it.

VJ said...

I must have missed this post when it first came up. Me, I can identify the major differences between Esther and Arianna right away. Esther's the one w/o the $500 sculpted doo, the ex-hubby who was a closeted gay self hating Republican CA. Ex- Congressman, and of course the $100's of millions that accrued from a subsequent divorce for Arianna. Hence the slightly larger media empire for her West Coast rival. Eshter's first language is English, Arianna's Greek, and Eshter clearly still has a more pronounceable maiden name.

True, both women are smart and successful, but Esther got there w/o having to be an intellectual flunky and apologist for the appallingly corrupt & disgraced ex-Congressman (GA), Newt Gingrich. (Beginning to see a pattern here perhaps?) And of course Esther did not and does make her mark in life by writing about her famous paramours or trysts with the once famous or infamous. (That's where our dear Arianna got her start as a media darling, in London, as Pablo's last love interest).

So I've got no idea if knowing about the buzz of blog hype will get you laid anymore than knowing the news of the day. Being smart always has it's sexy limitations. Smart without power or influence is like trading famous rabbi cards. We might know many of them, but they are almost unknown to the wider world, and most are unknown outside of their own communities.

I do know that I've never read any particulars of any of Esther's dates here, and certainly not within perhaps months of their occurrence. And you've always been very circumspect with the way you describe these occasions. As far as I recall all have been distinctly anonymous and faceless. So I don't know what the problem is, there's less dishy details here than on many other sites.

But I imagine the bottom line is that most people use Gawker and Defamer much the same way your mom uses the tabloids. To find out who's doing whom and what couple from tinseltown has gone where. But she still probably gets her news elsewhere too, from many sources, and she recognizes that that 'stuff' is not really hard news. All those people getting 'laid' using these bloggy references? Well some of them no doubt think this is what the news should be all (or more) about. It speaks more to the larger issue of 'what's the news' in this day and age. And a very sad story it is. Educating yourself on the world around you is the duty and right of every citizen. It has powerfully little to do with what Jenn & Ben were up to, or whether or if Jenn is getting along without Brad.

So the big headline should read: 'Silly, shallow, stupid young people getting laid' Secondary headline: 'Life continues on as it usually does'. This said, I have to say most of the blogs I read are by and for a fairly smart audience, and people work very hard on them. The role of 'public intellectuals' might be un or underpaid, but they've almost never been pretty in a conventional sense. It's an unfortunate conceit of our TV age to imagine them as 'hunks' or 'babes'. They've just rarely if ever been all that good looking. That's one of the defining characteristics of really smart people, and why Arianna always was attracted to them. She knew that's where she could make some more good money. And naturally she was right.

PS: Yes, the world has been waiting for a good Passover comedy since forever!
Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ', ga.