They used to work all day for a nickel.
And when they wanted news, they got it from a newspaper, by golly.
Times have changed.
With global warming, we have no more snow. With minimum wage laws, great grandpa’s work habits can only be emulated by workers in Cambodia. And with the onset of the online revolution, you can get the news from tomorrow’s newspaper today. (Which, by the way, would be a great premise for a TV show.)
And now, without any segue whatsoever (actually, on second thought, my referencing the lack of segue is itself a segue), from what I hear, the internet is popular. This is probably because it was created by Al Gore ’69 who, according to registered voters, was the most popular man in America in the year 2000.
(Speaking of which, does anyone else remember when Gore turned to Wolf Blitzer on CNN and said, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the internet”? And then Blitzer moved right along to the next question, but you were sitting there screaming at the TV, “Wait, wait, let’s expand on that last point!” OK, maybe that was just me.)
But real-time news wasn’t enough for the average person. People wanted to know the news before the news even took place. Those people have found a cushy home on the ever-popular internet message boards, where they can post their desired outcome to a situation as a “rumor” and—through the wonder of Google (now selling for $100.33 a share)—can have millions of people regurgitating it at cocktail parties and cock fights in a manner of minutes.
This is one of the two reasons why I try not to take much stock in any unsubstantiated rumors I find on any of the plethora of internet message boards. The other reason is that I know the types of people who post on message boards. I’m one of them. And it’s a general policy of mine to believe anything that is said by me or people like me. (Except that...and that...and that....)
There was this one topic, however, that piqued my interest.
About a month ago, a poster on the Billikens.com message board—a discussion forum for fans of St. Louis University—stated that Harvard center Brian Cusworth was seriously considering transferring to SLU. Just a few days ago, that board was active again, as another user claimed that Cusworth had actually received his release from Harvard and met with Billiken head coach Brad Soderberg.
At this point, I was pretty much hooked, which only serves to prove the point that if a small fabrication doesn’t garner much attention, you should make it bigger.
I got in touch with Harvard assistant coach Bill Holden, who assured me that Cusworth would be returning to Harvard. I also contacted Cusworth, who confirmed that he would be back in Cambridge this fall.
With that news, the Harvard basketball community can let out a collective sigh of relief as big as the man they were rumored to have lost. You’ve got it: a seven-foot, 250-pound sigh of relief.
Then I realized something. That single rumor had generated the most excitement about Harvard basketball since the season ended back in March.
Sure, it was factually inaccurate, but it was fun to talk about. (At least for the Billikens’ fans, that is.)
In that vein, I’ve decided to start a rumor of my own.
Word has it that the Ivy League presidents are going to remove their ban on postseason play for football and allow the Ivy champion to participate in the I-AA playoffs.
Sure, it’s not going to happen, but it’d be really fun to discuss.
—Staff writer Michael R. James can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column continues weekly, no matter how badly you wish it didn’t.