Allen Salkin - the Seymour Hersh of the Styles section - files this weekend on a group of media writers in New York who're meeting in an Murray Hill (?!) penthouse. Old school, but the rub? No twittering, blogging, oversharing.
Protocols, the group in question, was put together by Michael Malice, the Overheard In New York guy, whose "life story" was also chronicled by Harvey Pekar in a comic book. Some of the writers: noted Fingerbanging Expert Justin Rocket Silverman of the New York Post; Gawker Media 's Fleshbot Editor Lux Alptraum; Heeb's Jeff Newelt, a publicist/comic book artist; and illustrator/artist Molly Crabapple. No question, as far as media gatherings go, it's an impressively diverse group. Most of the time, when media people get together in New York, it's the same fifty people, at the same bar, and they're all talking shit on each other, or the shit they talked earlier in the week. Pathetically guilty as charged.
Salkin, as he's wont to do, trots off a bunch of numbers about The Way We Live Now with Facebook, Twitter, texting, cell phones, clubs that won't allow you to take pictures of other parties, bars that don't allow you to document their goings-on, and various ways in which people in New York put themselves out there. He ends on a salient note: the documentarian behind We Live In Public - about this very trend, which features an appearance by none other than Julia Allison - at one point mugs to a camera in the doc: "I'm just a product ready to be harvested." His eventual fate?
He moved to an upstate apple farm in 2001. According to his biography on the film's Web site, he is now running an entertainment network in Sidamo, Ethiopia.
Impressive that Salkin - normally a slave to his stories - got this one right, even if he still has a lot to learn about Twitter (as evidenced by the screengrab above, ha). But it feels like he might've missed the larger picture:
1. The idea that a group of people getting together who aren't allowed to broadcast their whereabouts or ideas even makes the news.
2. The fact that Protocols - a conversation whose foundation is wrapped around the idea of not being broadcast - wasn't able to resist being profiled by the Sunday Styles.
3. That the urge to express ones-self in some way is - yeah, besides self-evident - possibly just the American Condition.
Writers have been talking into the abyss for ages. Now, every away message, Tweet, and Facebook status puts people who wouldn't have ordinarily found themselves sharing inane sentiments on the same road as, say, Julia Allison, or any chronic over-sharer ever chronicled (or bylined) on this site. They might not be so far down said road as her, but anytime anybody talks into the vast expanse of the internet, they've expressed the desire to be heard by someone, anyone, anywhere. For better or worse, the repression (or restraint) that caused people to once stay silent in any number of ways is now a rarity.
That same desire isn't so far, ironically, from what Protocols nobly sets out to do. The difference is that they know who they're talking to. And quite frankly - again, for better or worse, wonderfully or creepily - I have no idea who any of you are.