With today’s ‘personal media,’it’s all about me | NevadaAppeal.com

With today’s ‘personal media,’it’s all about me

Barry Smith


That’s all I can say. They’re finally giving us the due we deserve.

In case you missed it on your calendar, today is National Smith Day. I’m not sure who proclaimed it, but my guess it was somebody named Smith.

I found out about this from something called Smith Magazine, of which I was notified by its founder, who happens to be named Larry Smith.

Yep, we’re everywhere.

Of course, today also happens to be the 465th anniversary of the day King Henry VIII of England married Anne of Cleves, and the day in 1912 that New Mexico was admitted to the union. Neither of those, however, has anything to do with Smith Day.

Apparently, the day is so named because two of the more famous Smiths of history share this birthday: Capt. John Smith and famed mountain-man Jedediah Smith. John Smith was president of Jamestown, and Jedediah Smith helped open the West via the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains.

You could probably pick any day of the year and there would be a few million Smiths who share that birthday. But every day can’t be Smith Day.

To the people who scoff that Smith is such a common name, we all know the appropriate response: “It’s not common. It’s popular.”

I like to think Adam and Eve were named Smith, but there’s no record to support my assertion.

That there is a National Smith Day should be surprising, since there are days to commemorate everything from avocados to zoology.

But the idea of a Smith magazine seemed a little narrow to me. Would enough people named Smith actually subscribe? Are there advertisers who are looking to target the Smith demographic?

As it turns out, founder Smith has a broader concept for magazine Smith. It won’t just be about people named Smith.

He describes it as “celebrating the explosion of personal media and the personal stories that celebrate the brilliance in the ordinary.”

That’s a backhanded compliment, I guess. At least that’s how I’m taking it.

He’s using Smith as a generic term for the common folk, and he’s going to find the uncommon among them. It’s a better concept, I guess, than George magazine. Still, I don’t know if people named Schwarzenegger, just to pick one out of a hat, will be interested enough to pick up a copy of Smith when they’re shopping at the supermarket (which, by the way, could well be Smith’s).

Won’t they demand their own Schwarzenegger magazine? (Maybe there is one, but I’ve never noticed it.)

The ultimate in “personal media” would be a magazine devoted specifically to me, Barry Smith, with stories about my life, pictures of me and my family and advertisements directed only at me because they know what I want to buy.

Such a magazine would be impractical, I know. And pointless. I pretty much know most of what’s going on in my life. It might be interesting to read some other people’s opinions of what’s going on in my life – pro and con editorial viewpoints on, say, what kind of car I should buy – but I don’t think the commercial potential is there.

Despite these drawbacks, however, the Internet is booming with blogs by people writing about themselves, to be read by … I don’t know, themselves, I guess. There are millions of such blogs, with the most intimate details of boring people’s lives.

And if reading about them isn’t enough, we now can download podcasts and videopods to our iPods so we can hear and see them talk about themselves.

It has gone far beyond a level of absurdity. It has all become noise.

So what’s the difference between all that rubbish and a column like this one – by a Smith, about Smiths and quite a bit about one particular Smith, me?

Nothing, really. It’s either as common as my name, in which case you wasted your time by reading it, or it rises above the ordinary and you’ve enjoyed it.

That’s the challenge. And either way, nobody’s going to care whether there’s a National Day with your name on it or not.

n Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at editor@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1221.