"Man, Merlin, What the Hey?"


The Alleged Internet Role Model Merlin Mann has a bee in his bonnet about something I don’t understand, because he’s set up an Amazon ‘store’ and related blog just to tell somebody to “buy the thefword1ing* camera”.

*Now, I don’t have a prudish attitude about thefword1, but I do feel that people who overuse it or use it trivially strip the word of its truly impressive potential. Even George Carlin, whose analysis of it in his “Dirty Words” monologues was near genius, got into the bad habit of using it as a placeholder, a mere modifier of other words. But when I saw him live last year as he was putting together his last show, he did convince me of the status of being called “An Old thefword1“, or in my case, “A Fat thefword1“. But I really really don’t want to overuse the word, and creative bowdlerization often actually enhances the word’s effect. So fuck off.

What is the problem for him if somebody obsesses over the purchase of a camera? If it were a Kodak Digital Camera that Woot.com was selling for $69.95 (which was my most recent camera purchase), I’d say that person was indeed getting things seriously out of proportion. But the camera you’re linking to has a price tag of $1619, marked down from $2099, so obsessing over it and involving other people in the purchasing decision process is not unreasonable.

You see, Merlin, for eons, people had things called ‘hobbies’ and photography has been one for at least one of those eons, and these ‘hobbyists’ have gotten ‘social’ with other people (not just other hobbyists) over the stuff they own or want to own for their hobbies and this was happening long before there was a thefword1ing Internet, which is a ‘social’ medium that encourages everybody to do everything more ‘socially’. Sure, it’s annoying when you don’t share the same hobby as the person getting ‘social’ with you, but the Internet also has rather simple ways of avoiding that kind of ‘social’ contact and maybe you should have never friended at Facebook or followed at Twitter that person in the first place. And if the person annoying you isn’t even addressing you directly, then you just need to step away, click on a different window, turn up your iPod or just start thinking of the theme from “Gilligan’s Island” to drown them out with an earworm.

Actually, with that price tag, it’s likely to be more than a hobby; the intended buyer may be planning to sell pictures to the AP and has to figure out how long to depreciate the capital cost before the last newspaper goes belly up. Or it might just be someone with way too much money and way too much time on their hands and so I must ask again: why is this person anywhere near you?

I’m sorry, Merlin, if somebody bothered you by getting you involved with their relationship with a camera that’s worth more than my car, but was it really worth making up two web pages containing 27 uses of the thefword1? And now here I am wasting my own not-all-that-valuable time to tell you to stop wasting your much more valuable time.

So please back off, Merlin, and let the camera-obsessed have their fun or I will have to make use of the most potent weapons at my personal disposal. Ridicule and derisive laughter. The Nelson Muntz “ha ha”. The Reagan-seque “there you go again”. And the assignment of the demeaning middle name – you do not want to become widely known as Merlin “Buy the thefword1ing Camera” Mann. You really, really don’t.

1 Comment (so far) about

"Man, Merlin, What the Hey?"

  1. 01ne out of 5ive in Wendell.Me. Says:

    […] still a semi-fan of Merlin Mann in spite of his recent obsession with people who get obsessed with buying expensive cameras, and I really really wish he hadn’t stopped updating his “5ives” site, which was […]

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