At the risk of writing about two “High School 2.0” blogosphere situations in one week (the first one being the Loren Feldman and Shel Israel brouhaha), I couldn’t help but notice that Jakob Lodwick — the brash young millionaire co-founder of Vimeo and CollegeHumour.com, and one-time blogging boyfriend of party girl-blogger Julia Allison — has decided to quit the Internet. Well, maybe not the Internet per se, but the “social Web,” meaning he has closed his blog and his Tumblelog (he’s financially involved with Tumblr as well). Why? Because he just can’t take the abuse any more, he says. It’s just too much.
Apparently, some people have been saying mean things about Jakob — about how he’s arrogant, and insufferable in a way that only a millionaire geek can be, that he dresses funny, and so on. It’s gotten to the point where even his Mom can’t take it any more, and has had to shut down her own Tumblr blog. The humanity! At some point, reading through Jakob’s last post to the blogosphere at large, and then through his farewell letter, I started to think that maybe it was just a big prank — maybe Jakob is secretly laughing at us. I mean, could he really have written a line like “I may be a millionaire, but this sort of thing still hurts” and not felt just a little ridiculous? Then he says:
“I am walking away from what might be called The Social Web. This comprises any site where ‘anyone can sign up’ and electronically socialize with one another. The story is the same with most of these sites: a few settlers discover and make themselves at home, enjoying the solitude.
Increasingly, less-adventurous people find their way to the site. The population begins to snowball. A vocal minority of thoughtless jerks begin to speak up, driving away the settlers. In the worst case, the result is something like MySpace.”
Maybe Jakob should go back and read some of the history of the early Internet: of Usenet, and IRC, and the MUDs and MOOs and then the Well, and so on. What he’s describing isn’t anything new; it isn’t some Web 2.0 invention designed specifically to torture well-meaning and creative individuals like our hero Jakob Lodwick, until their Mom writes a blog post about their enemies. It’s just the way people are. And for young Jake to moan about all the negative attention he’s gotten, after happily posting every intimate detail and thought about his life and relationships to public blogs, in an almost pathological exercise in “over-sharing,” is really rich. And not the good kind of rich, which — by the way — Jakob also is. It’s hard out there for a Web 2.0 pimp, I guess.
I’ve gotten a lot of comments about this post — you can read some of them below — and many of them disagree with my take on it. Bijan Sabet, an investor with Spark Capital, says both here and in a post on his Tumblr blog that Jakob is a good guy, and doesn’t deserve the attacks on him. As I said in my response to Bijan, I would never say that someone deserved the kinds of comments people have made about Jakob — but at the same time, they can hardly come as a surprise, unless he has been living in an ivory tower somewhere. He may be a great guy, but I still think his response to the whole thing is more than a little childish.