In an interview with Huffington Poster Arianna Huffington, Henry Blodget, the top editor at Business Insider, asks about HuffPo’s brilliance in starting conversations on its site. When HuffPo posts a politics article, notes Blodget, “30 seconds later there are 4,500 comments. Why does anyone want to be commenter No. 4,500?”
Huffington responds this way:
We need to understand that something has changed in the zeitgeist, which is that self-expression has become the new entertainment and a new source of fulfillment.
Determined to fact-check Huffington’s high-minded sociology---she did say that commenters want to have fun, too---I went to the top of the HuffPost politics section to check out the new zeitgeist. At the top of the page was a story about Mitt Romney attempting to smooth things over with party leaders. The piece was trending toward 700 comments.
A sampling of those comments:
PLEASE....PLEASE.....do not insult the Elephants. They have excellent memories and they NEVER LIE! And they love peanuts too! Mitt Romney never has known what having “peanuts” is in life!
I like to fire people, My Friends! I like to fire people while eating grits. I espacially like to fire people who make those mighty tasty 7-11 cookies that the common folk favor!
Not to mention:
...and if you contribute at least a MILLION$$$ to my campaign...Ann will let you brush her many dressage horses for 30 minutes...or drive one of her Caddys around the block!
“Self-expression?” No question about it.
“Source of fulfillment?” Okay, I suppose.
But let’s tell the whole story here, with a new category of commenting motivator: “Fulfilling self-expression of partisan bile.”