I often get calls from cable news networks, but they usually want me to weigh in on the latest trashy celebrity non-news: When they have stories about Paris or Lindsay, they think of me.
Well, I always say no.
But this week, I finally had the chance to talk about some of my own research on MSNBC. I thought for sure they would want to grill me about the provocative thesis I presented at TEDWomen: Social Media & the End of Gender has raised quite a few hackles on the TED.com site, and the last time I checked, the talk had received more thumbs down than thumbs up on YouTube. So I prepared myself for attack.
But when I arrived in the NBC Burbank studios (I was whisked there by a particularly obsequious Lincoln Town Car driver who seemed desperate for the work), I found out that the producers had swallowed the thesis whole. What they wanted to know was why women dominate social media and how media companies go about monitoring our online activities. One of the producers mentioned that she’s in grad school and she’d just attended a class where the professor talked about the surprising advantages of having your online behavior monitored — one of the riskier points I made in my TED talk.
It was fun to hang out for a while in the bowels of a network news operation, but I can’t tell you how depressing it was to discover that every person on the newsroom floor was devoting every ounce of energy to covering Lindsay Lohan’s court appearance. Helicopters were positioned (“123 Bravo, do you read me?”), B-roll was being located and prepped and jokes were flying about LindsayPalooza. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.