The Joy of the Take Down and Making Media Matter


For people that do what I do, i.e. social & political commentary, there's nothing more fun than a good take down piece. 

The pleasure you get from a good take down is the same that you get gossiping over a cigarette outside of the office door. There's the satisfaction of saying all of the things that need to be said that nobody else is saying. There's the excitement that comes with doing something that you know is just a little bit wrong. 

And, of course, people will watch, read and share the shit out of it. 

Ahh, but just like gossip, the problem with most take-down pieces is that on the whole, they accomplish nothing. As much fun as the office gossip is having, what office policies and directions do you ever actually see them change?

"Sally no longer works here. That's what we changed." 

Yes, my point exactly. 

"We wished her the 'best of luck' in her future endeavors, lol."

Ha ha. Good one. But you're getting me distracted. 

The point I'm making is that the take-down piece, as it is usually written, is written for the purpose solely of the take down. It doesn't persuade anyone to a new point of view. It doesn't call for any action. It doesn't promote a new way of thinking, introduce new ideas, or stand up for anyone. 

That means that in the long run, the take-down for the sake of take-down was ultimately a wasted endeavor. 

I think about these things sometimes. Like during Sunday Mass when the priest says things like, "Let us call to mind our sins," and, "Love your neighbor." The take down just doesn't fit. 

"Well, if you're going to go all Catholic-y on us, shouldn't you edit out the word 'shit' from earlier?"


"And someone getting fired is never a laughing matter."

Perfection, it seems, takes time. 

But I am trying, which is why I would like to think these things do cross my mind, and it's why I think about how one can give higher purpose to their endeavors. It's why I would like to think that there can be some good that comes from being a political junkie with a loud mouth.

But how, exactly, does one do that? 

I had a conversation with a guy not too long ago and asked him what he did. He's a pharmacist. An important job. He provides people the necessary medicine that they need to live and be healthy. I couldn't help but laugh as I compared the importance of his work with the work that has paid my bills since after college. 

"So much of what we do in the media world doesn't matter," I said. We write things, we meet about things, we obsess over things that ultimately don't have any lasting impact on society whatsoever.

Reality shows. If-it-bleeds-it-leads news stories. That same song, again. Ads that push you to 'act now.' 

Except that what we do does matter, doesn't it. We affect moods, motivate people to take action, help unite, or help divide. A well crafted message can start wars or end them. Media, in it's purest sense as the mechanism by which communication is transmitted, is how you pass along knowledge from one person to another so that they can become the doctors and the inventors and leaders of tomorrow.

So why do we write what we write, or say what we say? What should we be trying to accomplish when we step onto the battlefield that is today's politics?

Motivations matter. I think to be a positive voice in today's world, it comes down to striving for your work to always do one of these things:

  1. Provide inspiration
  2. Provide clarity
  3. Provide truth
  4. Provide advocacy

If we're not trying to do one of those things, then what are we trying to do?

I'm a politically independent blogger and podcaster who is often wrong but insists on writing about politics anyway. If you enjoyed this post, join dozens (literally!) of others and follow me on Facebook here.