A Plea for Decency

Bloviation from The Bobosphere:

What passes online for opinion, analysis, criticism and commentary too often lacks logic, coherent argument, evidence, intellectual rigor or even simple honesty. It wallows instead in snide cheapshots and ad hominem bile, scurrilousness and schadenfreude, free-floating hostility and bullying disguised as wit. We’d like to imagine the internet as a tool for democracy and Platonic justice. But the blogosphere isn’t exactly Plato’s “Republic.” It too often “Lord of the Flies.”
Character assassination is not only a subculture of the internet, it is an industry; Gawker and its many churlish imitators have turned it into cheap entertainment. They may see themselves as shining light on hypocrisy, deflating pomposity and other time-honored justifications for satire, but the supply of stuffed shirts and hypocrites simply doesn’t meet the demand, so everybody is at risk.

Will you look at all those big words? Churlish. Pomposity. Scurrilousness and schadenfreude. The Ad Age copy editing team must take a hands off approach to the site’s blahgs.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. >>>because I had myself been in the gunsites of various ad-industry bloggers>>>
    gunsites? tsk, tsk. clearly the copy editors took the day off.

  2. Using this tragedy to pontificate on anything is obscene. Period.

  3. Anonymous2 says:

    I agree they shouldn’t be using the tragedy to make their point.
    When it comes to the subject of the need for blogs and open commentary, maybe it is all filling a void left by ad media like themselves. They are not objective, nor do they report fairly. They are always influenced by favorites/clients/agencies/their own agendas. At least blogs add a counterbalance.

  4. Well, look, I think the core message needed to be said and I’m glad he did. Let’s face it, we need reminders sometimes – at times like these especially. But I think he kind of went off the deep end and actually started having fun writing that rant and it showed.
    It’s not as if Bob can cease to be a pompous, self-rightous know it all just to make a valid point.

  5. But, Todd, what was the core message? On abstract levels, the old man is throwing negativism at negativism. He wants to go on a crusade to take down Gawker? Yet he’s got a blog titled. “Comcast Must Die.” It’s interesting that the biggest complainers (Garfield and DiSesa) admit to being victims of negative criticism. Which goes back to my point: They are taking advantage of a tragedy to pontificate on their personal gripes. Everyone needs to remember that there is absolutely no evidence that Tilley saw the negative blog posts. There’s also absolutely no evidence that the negative blog posts affected his decisions. But Garfield and DiSesa want to jump to their insane conclusions, ultimately creating negativism equal to anything else online or in the media. Here’s another tangential consideration: Garfield and DiSesa have built their entire careers on criticizing people. But now they’re outraged because public criticism has evolved in ways that make them unhappy. Hey, these fools started the fire.

  6. @Anonymous
    Agree with many of your points. But, Paul Tilley did see the negative blogs and they did bother him. That much is known by people who knew him.
    So, more correctly we can say there is no direct evidence that reading them contributed to his suicide.

  7. PS,
    From the New York Times:
    “But a colleague and friend of Mr. Tilley’s, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, ‘There’s no way you or I will know why he did this, but it’s certainly not because of blogs.’”
    There is no published evidence stating Tilley even saw the blogs that I’m aware of. In many ways, the speculations insult the man’s memory. One does not rise to the level of ECD at a major agency and become unraveled by the writings of an anonymous blogger. After all, the bloggers haven’t even managed to get Bob Garfield to cease his pontifications.