PGTS Humble Blog
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Jumping The Shark
Chronogical Blog Entries:
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2008 23:56:19 +1100
It is difficult to quantify the actual size and extent of the continual
expansion of the Internet. To test this, your humble blogger tried a simple
search on Google and got about 8 billion matches! According to popular
mythology, Google may have indexed somewhere between 10 and 25 percent of
documents in the public Internet, so the total number of documents could be
anywhere between 30 to 80 billion. The number of users is almost impossible to
estimate. But if I can paraphrase the Hitch-hikers Guide To The Galaxy:
And thanks to the Internet, I am constantly learning new items of trivia, that chutzpah is pronounced hootspah, how to spell schadenfreude, that GFC stands for Global Financial Crisis etc ... And just recently a new phrase, jumping the shark, came to your humble blogger's attention. And I was once again reminded of the mind-blogingly bigness of virtual space. This particular phrase has existed for many years on the very same Internet that I surf quite regularly, and remained underneath my surf board. For all the awareness I had about the term, it might just have well existed in a parallel universe.
Unlike my own children, I spent my childhood in remote areas of Australia. And there was no television in my early years. I encountered my first TV in Perth, Western Australia, where I eventually went to school. There were several TV shows I thought were pretty cool, except baby boomer kids in Perth would not use the word the cool, they would have been more likely to use the words like grouse, ungood, bad ... etc (all of them meaning "cool", believe it or not).
One of the shows I liked was Bonanza, which actually started in Australia several years after the American debut. It had great characters, lots of shoot-ups and punch-ups. Everything a young boy might think was grouse.
But Bonanza was also one of the longest running shows on television. As time wore on the characters wore thin, the plots became limp and many viewers just lost interest in the Cartright family and the Ponderosa ranch. I recall one night, I was half watching a particularly boring episode that culminated in the show's strongman Hoss breaking down and crying, and I felt a little like crying myself. Not out of sympathy mind you, but because the show was so bloody awful! It was either break down and cry or burst out into peals of hollow laughter.
Ahh, dear reader, if I had been armed then with the lexicon of today's youth, I would have said that Bonanza had, like totally jumped the shark, dude!.
Anyone under the age of forty probably already knows all about jumping the shark. Those of you who still can't decipher the meaning from the context can quickly find out about it with Google. Or you can read the concise Wikipedia article on shark jumping.
And the phrase, seems to be on the verge of jumping into the mainstream. Last century, I recall over-hearing some Generation-X music fans discussing a Melbourne band, who they referred to disparagingly as "selling out" and/or "going mainstream". Since I had actually heard of the band, and I was a member of the previous generation, there was a good chance they were right! Now if only they had known, there was a perfect phrase to describe what they were discussing.
The possibilities are endless! Microsoft jumped the shark when they created the most abominable software release in the history of software releases, the truly awful Vista. And Facebook may have recently jumped the shark, as they continue trading their users' private data in a desperate bid to to cash in on their popularity and turn a profit.
And who can doubt that global capitalism has jumped the shark? Not to mention Black Friday Shopping? The gruesome news that a worker at Wal-Mart was trampled to death by Black Friday Shoppers is not just a macabre low-light for US capitalism, but it must also clearly mark the point at which Black Friday Shopping, in the USA, jumped the shark.
And could any one deny that the concept of using increasing amounts of complex debt to construct an economic version of perpetual motion has jumped the shark?
After all, Australia, natural home of the Great White Shark, is ideally situated for more Shark Tales. A friend of this website has related to me a story of how a young fellow climbed onto a well-known diving board on a picnic spot on the Parramatta River, worked up a good high bounce on the board, and then dived into the water. Straight down the jaws of a shark that had surfaced just after his feet left the board!
And your own humble blogger, before he became a blogger, was known to swim in the sea near Moruya in New South Wales. On one occasion a very large, very swift grey shape swam up towards your blogger. Now on this particular occasion the sea was not stained with blood. However your humble blogger almost stained the sea many shades of brown! And was mightly pleased to see the classic curved shape of a dolphin's dorsal fin break the surface of the water nearby.
However there is a problem for those who adopted the phrase Jumping The Shark. Now that the demographic represented by your humble (baby boomer) blogger has discovered it, and started to employ it, there is a danger that this whole shark jumping business has jumped the shark.
Ah Such is Life! or C'est le requin! as the French would say.