New Rules: February 21, 2014

New Rule: [slide of snake-handling Pastor Jamie Coots] If you spend your life teasing snakes, like Pastor Jamie Coots, the star of “Snake Salvation” did, and then one kills you, as it did, the people at your funeral cannot use the words, “shock,” “tragedy” or “sad.” 

And it’s only fair, since the snake prevailed, that it must be given its own show called, [slide of show title] “Keeping Up with the Kopperheads.” 

New Rule: [slide of Olympic commentators including Johnny Weir] Someone must tell Johnny Weir, “More ice and less ‘capades.’” If I want to see something that gay on ice, I’ll order a Daiquiri. 

New Rule: Now that Doritos is introducing [slide of Doritos ‘Loaded’ chip] “Doritos Loaded,” the new Doritos chips stuffed with processed cheese, Americans have to…Oh, fuck it, eat it. Eat the whole bag. I don’t care anymore. Let’s see if we, as a nation, can get ourselves so unhealthy we have to invent something called “Hepatitis E.” 

New Rule: Yakov…Yakov Smirnoff must explain to the Russian Cossacks who whipped Pussy Riot that, “In America, pussy whips YOU!” Remember him?

New Rule: slide of Georgia license plate with Confederate flag] If you’re such a die-hard enthusiast for Old Dixie that you want the new specialty Georgia license plate that features a Confederate flag, hey, whatever blows your mullet back. 

But, you have to accept that you’re probably not going to get out of this ticket. [slide of large black police officer]

And finally, New Rule: The Sparkletts guy must tell me why nobody talks around the water cooler anymore. But, wait, I think I know why. It’s because as a culture we don’t have enough in common anymore.

And that’s because the Internet, which was supposed to unite the world, has become too adept at serving us personalized content. Do you know what I saw on Yahoo’s front page this morning? No, you don’t, because mine isn’t the same as yours. People get newsfeeds now that just spit back customized stories based on what we’ve clicked on in the past.

So, I, for example, might see a lot of stories about pot, American history, and, of course “Christian Mingle.”

Whereas, Ted Nugent just gets ads for Prozac and bullets. 

So, yes, welcome to the brave new world of micro-targeting which – look, admittedly is often harmless. No one gets hurt if my computer tells me, “You bought ‘James Taylor’s Greatest Hits.’ You might also enjoy this pillow and these sleeping pills.” 

Or, “You’ve shown an interest in ‘nipple slips.’ Here’s every picture ever of Tara Reid.” [slide of Tara Reid] 

“And here’s an article about another slippery boob.” [slide of Ted Cruz]

But, consider this: back in the olden days, this is how people spent their time on the subway. [older slide of crowded subway] Amazing, isn’t it? Everyone is reading a newspaper and no one is masturbating. 

Here’s a subway car today. [three people sit staring at hand-held devices] Everyone is playing “Angry Birds,” and no one is getting news. Or, if they are, it’s their Facebook newsfeed, which is now how a third of their – of adults get their news. 

And this month, Facebook unveiled an app called “Paper,” which Mark Zuckerberg calls – quote – “the best personalized newspaper in the world.”

Yeah, I suppose the Washington Post is okay, like when it uncovered Watergate, but Facebook lets you share pictures of your lunch and do this? [he gestures and makes goofy face] 

But…but, hey, if one of the richest companies in America can get richer by making you a little stupider every time you look at your phone, small price to pay. 

And, boy, does it make you stupider. “Paper” tracks the news you’re interested in and gives you more of that and less of everything else, never burdening you with contradictory information or telling you anything new. That’s what makes it news. 

But, only seeing the stuff that confirms the opinions you already have isn’t news. It’s Fox News.

The reason so many Americans, for example, think climate change is a hoax, is that their only source for science news is Glenn Beck, Fox and  Matt Drudge, the “cracker trifecta.” 

Newspapers may be old-fashioned, but here’s what we’re losing if you never see one: they are trying to tell you what’s actually important, not just what’s important to you. You may not read the whole paper, but you at least see headlines making you aware that something’s going on outside of your micro-targeted world of fashion or music or wiccans or zombies or whatever you’re into. 

I don’t enjoy reading about climate change. It’s depressing. But, for example, I recently saw a headline that said jellyfish are taking over the ocean. Which I found alarming.

So, I read the article. And, apparently, yes, jellyfish are the cockroaches of the sea and will happily eat all the toxic shit we’re putting in the ocean which is killing everything else down there. But, the jellyfish are, like, “Oil? Fuckin’ love it!” “Plastic? I had some for lunch.”

Yes, jellyfish: 500 million years of yechhh…and now their time has come. [laughter] 

And, no one is going to hear about it unless a jellyfish washes up on a beach and exposes its nipple.