There is one good kind of angst, and that is the angst that happens to someone else. Particularly a someone else that is large, corporate and deserving. For example — let’s just pull a name out of the air — AOL.
If I ran a hardware store, I’d want a special place in hell reserved for Home Depot. If I owned a bookstore, it would be Amazon. If I ran a luncheonette, it would be McDonald’s. If I just owned some generic Main Street store, it would be Walmart.
But since I run a local news site, my particular enmity is for AOL, which set itself up about a year ago to be the world’s biggest mega-marketplace of online “content” and whose Patch empire has been busy replicating the brand I created in 2004 and elbowed into my territory last year. Can I hate them just because they’re big, they have deep pockets, they’ve poached talent and they can run at an operating loss while I have to stay in the black? Sure, why not? I’m David. They’re Goliath. But I also hate their corporate soullessness: the suitification of the blogosphere, the scaling of local.
I get Google news alerts for AOL, and my day is made whenever I see the first complaint by someone complaining that AOL sucks. Which these is just about everybody but Arianna Huffington. AOL’s daily angst is my daily smile. I just can’t help myself.
These days, it’s a daily schmorgasboard of Schadenfreude: lawsuits from from HuffPo bloggers and AOL freelancers. Massive closings of popular blogs and the backlash from former staffers and fans. Then there are thought pieces like this — “Why Facebook is AOLifying the Internet — and That Sucks.” And my all-time favorite, published on AOL’s own TechCrunch blog: “Aol to Journalists: You Be the Rock Star, We’ll be the Mark Chapman.” (That’s so cool, even getting acquired for $25+ million doesn’t make TechCrunch pull its punches.) And for kicks, there’s always the Twitter search “AOL sucks.”
Yes, Tim Armstrong still has those CEO good looks, the high cheek bones and the expensive suits. He made $15.3 million last year, which is a great deal more than me. But I bet, when he falls asleep, he has nightmares in which Arianna kills his pet rabbit. At least I hope he does.
Photo: All About George via Flickr. All opinions in this post are entirely my own.