What did Gawker do?

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com

“Performative ignorance” is a great phrase. I like this assessment:

When I think about the demise of Gawker, I cope by viewing it from a remove and as a narrative. If nobody starves and this somehow manages to leave freedom of press unscathed (the latter obviously being the bigger if than the former), what has been crafted is a tale that would seem too outrageous as fiction. Each chapter in Gawker’s trajectory, particularly the last few feverish, increasingly mad entries, has been, objectively, fascinating, and here upon us is a definitive ending, to boot. Ah, the comfort of closure. This sucks right now for many people who are directly affected, but when it’s history and we’re all looking back comfortably, what will remain is that narrative. And really, that’s the best life can give you: enduring narrative. We humans and our things come and go and so little is remembered. We know that Gawker will be remembered. There’s a good chance its narrative will prove so indelible as to be legend.

How the legend will be recounted is another question. When the Hogan verdict was announced earlier this year, the schadenfreude-drenched response on social media found many people pretending that Gawker had only run two posts: the Hogan sex tape, and the CFO/gay escort story of last year. I’m not sure, exactly, why so many people saw fit to distill the millions of words that Gawker has produced down to a few thousand (and about a minute of grainy video). I wonder if it’s easier for some people to simplify either because they aren’t very smart or they don’t like thinking. That sort of revising, of steamrolling nuance, of performative ignorance, though, is something that Gawker, functioning as it was supposed to be functioning, would resist, refute, and ridicule. And now with Gawker not around, there’s one less site invested in calling bullshit, one less site to shake you from the comfort of black-and-white thinking and selective reasoning.

You’ll agree or disagree with this assessment, depending on the posts you read, and depending on how invested you are in nuance. Because of Gawker’s breadth, and because it didn’t have so much a single voice as a cacophony of several voices at any given time, the site meant many different things to many different people. What appealed to me, more than anything, was a sensibility that loathed preciousness, that refused to defer to the most sensitive person in the room out of social pressure and smarmy politeness. The site’s run-till-tackled mentality was exhilarating while we ran—I appreciated that no one ever asked me to reduce myself or change to appease readers, especially because I know that even the best-intentioned among a liberal audience can have a hard time swallowing really gay shit. The tackling that finally took place, wrestling Gawker to the ground and then erasing it from the planet, makes me wonder whether time will revise that run as an illusion. Maybe that run will be remembered as a 14-year slow fall. We who took part know better.

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