The Facebook IPO: A Tsunami of Meh

Today the BBC news website made me laugh.

Go to the front page, and the headline is ‘Facebook in stock debut rollercoaster’. Click on the link and you see an article that instead says ‘Facebook shares see modest debut‘.

Why is this funny? First, because everyone expected there to be a rollercoaster, because other tech IPOs have done just that, and there wasn’t one. But more significantly, if everyone expected there to be a rollercoaster, then having one wouldn’t have been news. We were supposed to have witnessed a blandly volatile event but we didn’t get one.

The media has grown quite accustomed, it seems, to taking dull events that have the surface appearance of drama and dressing them up as  narratives for our consumption.

When things don’t go as planned, the cracks in the system appear. The headline written before the event doesn’t get yanked. A much better, and truer title would have been ‘Facebook IPO appalls media world with mild performance’.

2 thoughts on “The Facebook IPO: A Tsunami of Meh”

  1. One of the things I noticed when I moved to Finland was that they report all sorts of news here, even bland news. There are newspaper articles with titles like “Finns are moderately happy”, “Traffic in Helsinki no more congested than last year”, and “This summer slightly warmer than last summer”.

    Fun Finnish Fact: Finns are the third most avid readers of newspapers, in the world, after Norway and Japan.

    1. This is both unexpected and marvelous! How did the Finns report the Facebook IPO? Do they also report the things that *should* be news, but that nobody looks at, such as ‘A hundred people die in unrelated car accidents’? This last achievement would impress me greatly.

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