I'm finding it very hard to generate any sympathy at all concerning the layoffs and cutbacks at Gawker media. Apparently there's been many people let go, blogs under the Gawker imprimatur are being sold off, and there's a great deal of uncertainty and stress in the company, as there is in many companies. It's sad whenever people are let go, and it's particularly a problem in the context of so many new job losses-- all of these people, presumably, will go on to seek new jobs, and so for every new layoffeee there is that much more competition. I don't cheer the news of anyone's termination.
But I can't find much sympathy for people who, when the subject is layoffs at other companies in media or publishing, have responded with cackles of glee and derision. Cruelty is Gawker's brand, its only commodity. Gawker has elevated casual bitchiness to an almost astonishingly pure hatefulness. And now, in the face of their own misfortune, it is difficult to find room within myself for empathy for the people who have inflicted so much unapologetic bile. Something like this-- I'd like to feel a great deal of unhappiness for this women. But I only have to click her name on the post and browse around in her work and realize that this is someone who, were she to read an identical post by someone who worked at Conde Naste or Random House or the New York Times and was laid off, would feel no particular guilt in roasting that person over the coals. That's the price of killing of your own impulse for humanity. You have no standing to ask for compassion for anyone else.
(I wonder, by the way, if the post I linked to was the most honest thing that woman ever wrote for Gawker. The great comforting lie the Gawker set of the world tells itself is that they are only cruel in service to the truth; but when I read that site or its various permutations all I think, the whole time, is what a lie the whole enterprise is. Even in this post, the blogger can't quite allow herself to be genuine.)
Will Gawker survive the economic downturn? Who knows. My feeling is that people will have quite enough suffering, thanks, without needing the kind ginned up by Gawker. I'm not much for predictions, but if I had to guess, I'd say that this country is going to get acquainted with poverty in the coming years. In the face of such a thing, Manhattan elitist backbiting bullshit stops seeming funny and glamorous and is revealed to be the empty, self-obsessive exercise of small minds it always has been. The cliche is essentially true, that being nice is overrated; but being kind most certainly is not. I hope the people laid off by Gawker Media land softly, but I'll be shedding few tears for them.
Update: In the interest of fairness, I'll quote commenter Josh:
I do know the ex-Gawker blogger in question personally a little bit, and she's an absolute sweetheart...I think you're misrepresenting her work in particular, and even Gawker somewhat in general....know Gawker has a reputation for being terribly cruel and maybe I'm just missing something, but I don't see much of that, especially not over the past year. Bitchy for sure, in many cases, and snarky -- but I guess I see cruelty as being out-and-out mean to no worthwhile purpose. Their targets tend to be public figures who've done stupid or arguably immoral things, and while that doesn't mean Gawker or anyone else should have carte blanche to attack them, there is a long-standing tradition of calling celebrities, politicians, various bigwigs et al. out and serving them a sort of rough justice.
It is certainly possible that I've misrepresented this blogger Sheila, and if that's the case, I do apologize. As far as Gawker goes... I remain unconvinced. I can see how, if you're a Gawker commenter, it could be a useful social tool. But I do know of many situations where Gawker has, in fact, attacked people who aren't really public figures at all, and I think their definition of who exactly constitutes a public figure shifts pretty much to suit whatever interests them at the moment. Who knows, I could be wrong. I do think, though, that Manhattan insiderism is not going to be a growth industry in the near future.