Jason Calacanis reminds me of those television actors who suddenly find their lives as popular series regulars too confining, too empty, too common. You know, like when Henry Winkler found Fonzie to be limiting his artistic brilliance, and lit out for the big screen.
My old Silicon Alley friend (and yes, we tangled, but that was long ago) throws up his hands today and bashes Facebook, Web 2.0 applications, friend requests, blog comments, and blogs in general. He basically says blogging is over. This from the man who made his fortune launching a successful series of niche blogs that AOL found compelling enough to fork over their millions for.
"Feels like the blog format is lost and adrift," he complains today on his own blog, where he's switched off comments and ended his years-long conversation with the common man. Jason's really steamed about comment spam, impolite posters and most of all, the insane number of requests for everything imaginable that he gets on Facebook.
I don't blame him, and I did notice from his Twitter stream that he's been bed-ridden with some hideous ague. That can make a blogging mogul cranky, fer sure. And comment spam is insidious and horrid. Facebook is in its learning phase as a platform; it is hard to take it all in.
Yet, who better to try than Jason Calacanis, a former New Yorker who went west and made his fortune; once a little guy himself from Brooklyn handing out xeroxed fanzines, an occasionally demented promoter who never took no for an answer. Now that gutty, driven guy (who beat the hell of out me a time or two) is too big for blog comments? Facebook requests annoy him? Geez man, let the antibiotic work before you go on a misanthropic posting jag, will you?
What really ticked me off about Jason's posts, though, was his utter dismissal from poolside about the possibilities of what I call "Facebook philanthropy" - which has tremendous promise in linking the net natives to real and compelling causes. I've written about it here and here. Quoth Jason:
Also, I've got my own causes that I don't have enough time for, so no, I really don't need the guilt trip of telling you I don't want to be in your group that's going to stop the suffering of [INSERT THE NAME OF YET ANOTHER GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING TOO MUCH]. It's brutal. No one human can solve the problems of all humans but based on social networking I'm going to be presented with just such a challenge. What?!?!?! You are not going to join my group to clean the water, support free culture, stop the killing of INSERTSPECIESHERE, etc.
What a cold, rotten rant. I know for a fact, because I'm watching it happen, that people connecting other people (and generally, they're much younger and certainly more idealistic than either Jason or myself) is driving support to world-changing causes.
C'mon Mr. Calacanis. I know you really do believe in philanthropy and the power of the great networks to change the world. Don't make us ask what's Hawaiian for "cold-hearted miser?" A wiser man than either of us once wrote:
Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.