The story of the gate-crashing Salahis was with us for the duration of the holiday, given top billing at every major paper and half-heartedly justified by the pretense of their presence as a "security issue." The commentary was predictable because we’d seen the same when balloon boy descended from the attic. We created the Salahis. This is our culture of attention-seeking. The Salahis aren’t outliers, they are what we have become. Etc, etc, and so forth.
This line of argument has always seemed to me unpersuasive. Of course we’re going to notice the tiny minority of fame addicts more than we notice the vast majority of people who lack interest in publicly humiliating themselves; getting noticed is the point. Yes, fame-seekers now have more stages on which to perform their dysfunction. But that doesn't mean that there are more exhibitionists among us than there once were, or that every life is now a public life. Kids who grow up on Facebook are going to be relatively practiced at drawing boundaries; if anyone knows where the line is, it’s the people who have always had to make the choice between privacy and public revelation. I don’t care if Penelope Trunk wants to tweet her miscarriage , but that kind of openness does not seem to be the norm.
The Heenes and the Salahis aren’t uncomfortable to watch because they epitomize some ugly new aspect of American culture. They’re painful to watch because they're desperate to be liked, and it's awkward to encounter that level of neediness in other people.
TODAY IN SLATE
Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case
The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race
How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster
The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented
Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada
You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney
Or at least trade it for something.
- Texas Lab Worker on Cruise Tests Negative for Ebola as Dallas Hospital Apologizes
- Police Use Tear Gas to Break Up College Pumpkin Festival Turned Violent
- Racist Rancher Cliven Bundy Challenges Eric Holder in Bizarre Campaign Ad
- Supreme Court Allows Texas Law That Accepts Handgun Permits but not College IDs to Vote
An All-Female Mission to Mars
As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.