June 12, 2006


The NYT (magazine) has found more things online that are destroying our children. We already knew about the fatal charms of blogs and webcams, now it's online poker. I'm guessing I missed the cautionary tale about Warcraft.

Anyway, of all of these, online poker is the most legitimate one to cause concern. College kids do all manner of stupid things; losing all of their money online seems a reasonable addition to the repertoire. But I just can't get over the sensationalistic way in which the NYT tells these stories.

It's always the same; find the most extreme example of compulsive-destructive behavior for a given online activity and show how the factors at play in said example could easily lead to your own Little Johnny blowing the entire SigEp house in order to pay off his gambling debts.

The protagonist in this week's story is Greg Hogan Jr. who, after a 16 month losing streak at online poker, asks his friends to stop at a bank so he can cash a check on the way to the movies. He walks in, robs the place for a couple grand, and is arrested a couple hours after enjoying Tilda Swinton's turn as the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia.

It's a juicy tale as Mattathias Schwartz reveals when he writes in the piece "Hogan's lawyer has been fielding calls from bookers at 'Oprah,' 'Montel' and 'Good Morning America,' all drawn in by the irresistible 'good kid robs bank' story."

The fact that I foolishly keep thinking that the NYT is somehow better than Montel is the only reason these pieces continue to irk.

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