In the flurry of heated comments on this blog in the past several days, one stuck in my mind and piqued my curiosity. Two days ago, in what I am pretty sure was meant as a devastating criticism of me and my blog, Talha wrote: “If one were to seek a definitive "jump the shark" moment for this blog, this would be it.” I thought to myself. “Now what exactly does that mean?” I knew it had something to do with Happy Days, Fonzie, and water skiing, but pretty clearly the expression had taken on a larger life. So, as I always do when I am puzzled, I Googled. Here is what I found:
“Jumping the shark is the moment when something that was once popular that no longer warrants the attention it previously received makes an attempt at publicity, which only serves to highlight its irrelevance.”
Huh. That was odd. Was I once popular but now no longer warrant the attention I previously received? It was pretty clear that Talha did not intend to pay me a compliment – I got that. But the rest of it puzzled me.
Once popular. This blog occupies a tiny backwater off a trickle of a stream that never quite makes it as far as even a secondary waterway. For some years now, if Google metrics are accurate, it has been attracting between 1000 and 1500 views a day. Allowing for the faithful who click multiple times and the occasional visitors who nod in from time to time, there might be as many as 2000 folks worldwide who come to visit, among whom maybe a dozen comment with any frequency [that last may be a bit generous.] Every so often, Brian Leiter links to something I have said, and for a day the views soar to 3000, but then things settle down and putter along.
Now, 1000-1500 a day is fabulous if you are standing in front of a classroom, but in the Blogosphere it is pathetic. The serious blogs record daily visits in the scores of thousands or even millions. My total viewership would be within the margin of error of a real blog. However – and on this I take my stand – it is constant, neither growing nor dwindling.
I am afraid that expression is like many that once had a precise meaning but now simply convey a generalized scorn. Sort of like gaslighting.