That is a lot of sucking.
Among the items of suckitude: Windows Vista Beta 2; Bose; soccer; Southwest Airlines; "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit"; Mac gaming; PayPal; Sen. Specter's surveillance bill; Ticketmaster; Wikipedia; GoDaddy; Congress; war, the internet in Laos and – hilariously enough – the Morphy Richards Pod Bagless Compact vacuum cleaner.
Although, you know, not in a good way.
That's 15 of the first few entries. I can't speak for the other 32,044,364 – except to say that only one of them asserted suckiness to the male orgasm.
Presumably, 32,044,378 bloggers can't be wrong. And they also aren't all pissed off. Nearly 25 million blog entries invoked the word "awesome." Another 7,019 described "an incredible experience." And 18,888 deemed something or other "the coolest thing ever."
Coolness, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Exactly one blogger, a college student named Suze Bramlet, used "coolest thing ever" in the same thought with "Birkenstocks." Nobody in the blog universe did so with Carrot Top. But the pool of cool is predictably deep:
Librarything.com, Google Earth, Google Ride Finder, BenGay, Pandora; the Diet Coke and Mentos video; tennis and the fact that nurse sharks have two uteri but no placenta.
The point to all of this being that we need no longer depend on critical judgments from astonishingly perspicacious elites such as myself. Opinions are like parathyroid glands; everybody has one. But nowadays almost everybody has the means to express them to the world at large, and the world at large is actually paying attention. One needn't blunder randomly through the blogosphere to learn, say, , what one random guy thinks about Cool Mint Listerine (answer: not much):
"Listerine was chugging along nicely from its introduction as the first over-the-counter mouthwash in 1914, killing germs and tasting like shit until 1992. This is when Cool Mint Listerine was introduced, probably to combat that sickly-sweet but non-antiseptic upstart Scope. Since then there have been several new flavors of Listerine introduced, including Natural Citrus and Cinnamon.... The latest variety of Listerine is Vanilla Mint. It's advertised as being "less intense." Does it taste good? Sure, I'm drinking a glass of it right now, poured generously over ice. Yum. Listen... I don't want my Listerine to be delicious. I want it to taste horrible and kill germs, just like it did 100 years ago. What sissies we've all become."
God bless Mr. Stegmann, an internet essayist and self-published author, but ad hoc criticism is sooooo 2005. Nowadays, we can simply go straight to complaints.com to get the buzz on any product of our choosing. In this way, for instance, we discover that Cool Mint is also in the eye of the beholder. Because another chap has staked out a position more or less opposite to Mr. Stegmann's:
Dear Madam or Sir:
I've been using your Listerine (Cool Mint) mouthwash for many years now and have been very pleased with it; it leaves my breath minty clean and fresh so I don't have to worry about inadvertently melting a co-worker's, or my wife's face, off when speaking with them.
On a lark while at Costco the other day, I picked up the original, "yellow" variety of your mouthwash thinking that my taste buds deserved a different flavor once in a while to keep them happy. .... Good god--what DID you put in that stuff? Unbeknownst to you, did an errant elephant from a visiting circus relieve himself in one of the Listerine vats? Is it a derivative from the leftover, poisoned, grape Kool-Aid from the Jonestown incident years ago? ...Or a page lifted from Dr. Jack Kevorkian's euthanasia recipe book?
And so on in that vein. Not every complainant is as vivid as this fellow, but suffice to say there is not a product or service that is not subject to exactly the same scrutiny in any number of online fora: Epinions.com, Angieslist.com, flyertalk.com and so on.
In this chapter, we shall look at some of these so ons.