This poor bastard…

This content is no longer available.

Well, not so poor, actually. Quite well off, I’d imagine, knowing a teensy bit about royalties and such.

That gentleman is Paul Marcarelli, an actor who became quite famous for the phrase “Can you hear me now?”, spouted in commercials touting Verizon’s network coverage. The work was so popular that he was quickly pigeonholed, as he was so recognizable. Mr. Marcarelli finally relented to “returning” for the role, this time as a Sprint pitch man, virtually ensuring that we all him burned into our brains as “that guy”. His royalties have him laughing all the way to the bank, but it will be interesting to see if we ever see him as something more. Looking at his body of work, he seems a pretty talented guy. Oh, and Cricket Wireless plans on making him their “guy” in 2027. The slogan will be “Can you hear anything?” Those last two sentences may be truth-challenged.

The question “can you hear me now?” seemed particularly era-appropriate in retrospect, as it came during the amazing rise of social media as a force of nature. Suddenly, each of us had a platform amongst our family and friends to make our voices heard. If and as our circles of influence grew, our voices did as well. But everyone has something to say, and sometimes we’re talking all at once. The quest for truth and fact in today’s noisy ecosystem seems to be harder by the day, to all of our bafflement. We often cannot seem to agree on what the truth is any more. Thank god we have alternative facts to fall back on to support our never-failing opinions.

Cut to 2016, and one of the more contentious election years in modern history. The screaming and caterwauling from both sides of the aisle only grew in volume as the year progressed, with millions of voices perfectly sure that they simply weren’t yelling loud enough to drown out the incredible stupidity their opponents were putting forth. Surely more sheer volume would vanquish the voices in their Twitter feed, if not the ones in their heads. I’m as guilty as anyone within my closest circles.

Media, including (and often especially) sports media is no stranger to this effect. As media conglomerates refined their methods of monetization, the internet and its mountains of data showed the fourth estate that we consumers tended to spend our time gravitating to the extreme, morbid, and incomplete. Want everyone to click on your link to make an extra buck? Just let them know that something they may be doing right now could kill them. Make that a compelling top-10 list of horrible things that might KILL THEM RIGHT NOW, (with no hint as to what those things are) and you have yourself a lucrative career in a sleazy industry. The sources of “truth” we believe are so disparate, that we’ve created a climate in which we all believe in fake news. Sadly, none of us seem to agree on which sources are fake.

As the cash rolled in, those same outlets realized that the truth was far less important than a compelling/outrageous opinion. Why bother with a fact when an outrageous lie and apologetic retraction got you far more viewers? Kindness doesn’t sell, we need to have two talking heads sitting across a table questioning each other’s lineage, character, and intelligence (instead of thier opinion) over something so unimportant as a basketball contract. Or a recipe. Or whose orange juice was in the fridge. Suddenly, all-day coverage demanded all-day viewer attention, and a little more noise/outrage/shock factor drove the growth of the outlets unconcerned with such things as the truth. Wallets and heads grew fatter by the day. Screw being right. Just be first. Or loudest.

This type of coverage has not escaped your Denver Nuggets, either, with outlets such as the news channels, papers, and blogs (such as dear Denver Stiffs) competing for your eyeballs and ad dollars. The profit of being relevant often comes at the price of our good behavior. It’s a razor-thin line between making a compelling comment about successes and failures, and just being a grade-A @sshole, and I’ve crossed it more than once myself. Hell, more than once in a week.

Such behavior has not escaped the masses, either, as evidenced by spaces like our social media feeds and commentary boards. Discourse took a poor course, and we adopted the tone of the noise around us. Sadly, the vitriol tends to be infectious. Don’t believe me? Sit on the sidelines the next time you see someone treated poorly for no reason, and watch their next social interaction. We often blindly pass along the sh-tstorm that just soiled our boots. 

It’s enough to make you wonder if your voice makes any difference when everyone else is speaking simultaneously, or what on earth you’d have to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times before… Maybe even a thousand times this morning. Tonight the Nuggets will play another game, and another Denver player may be spectacular while yet another falls flat on his face, and hopefully we can tell you about both with some decency. The next game, those two players may reverse positions, and many of us will fall all over ourselves making sure to tell everyone in shouting distance that we’d known about said hero and goat well before any of the rest of you said a word. No one will hear us, though, as we’ll all be talking. Just ask Jameer Nelson… or Kenneth Faried… or any one of the Denver Nuggets who has played enough games to be the hero and the goat of the news cycle in 24 to 48 hours.

So, a thousand words later, and I’m the jerk saying people talk too much. Apologies. I should be listening more, whether about politics or hot dogs or whatever my family is talking about or even Denver Nuggets basketball. I always want to hear what Nuggets Nation has to say, whether they say it kindly to each other or not. But kindly wouldn’t hurt a thing, would it?

Can you hear me now?