Why Don’t New York Times Writers Possess Any Awareness of Their Presentation-of-Self?

J. Bradford DeLong
May 24, 2015 · 3 min read

Live from La-La Land: Is Maureen Dowd really this clueless as to how she is appearing to Uber drivers — and to her readers?

Maureen Dowd: Driving Uber Mad: “I had Uber. Even in the land of movie stars, you could feel like a movie star when your Uber chauffeur rolled up…

…But, suddenly, they scattered in the opposite direction. I stood in the driveway, perplexed. Finally, a car pulled up, and the driver waved me in. ‘Do you know why no one wanted to pick you up?’ he asked. ‘Because you have a low rating.’… I was shocked. Blinded by the wondrous handiness of Uber, I had missed the fact that while I got to rate them, they got to rate me back. Revealing that I had only 4.2 stars, my driver continued to school me. ‘You don’t always come out right away,’ he said, sternly, adding that I would have to work hard to be more appealing if I wanted to get drivers to pick me up. Uber began to feel less like a dependable employee and more like an irritated boyfriend….

What I had loved about Uber was that, unlike in every other aspect of my high-tech world, I didn’t feel judged. My worth wasn’t being measured by clicks, likes, hits, views, retweets, hashtags, Snaps, thumbs-up or repins. Except then I learned that sitting in an Uber car was pretty much like sitting in my office: How much have you developed your audience? How much have you been shared? How much have you engaged your reader? Are you trending? I was trending on Uber, all right, and not in a good way….

Now, instead of quietly sitting in the back seat of my Uber and checking my phone or reading the paper, I had to start working to charm. “Your husband likes oysters?” I enthused to one woman driving me in San Francisco. “What are the kids up to this summer?” I chirped to another. It was starting to have the vibe of friending, liking and sharing on Facebook, and that always gives me acid flashbacks to the ’80s when I was forced to go to my brother’s house and watch slides of his wedding. Finally, my nephew explained that I didn’t need to grovel or gush. I simply needed to say, as I got out of the car, “Five for five.”… Bribery. Lies. Cover-up. My Uber app turns out to have all the usual Washington vices…. I’ve only yanked my rating up a tenth of a point in the last two weeks. I’m hoping Uber’s self-driving cars will like me more. But somehow I think the robots will be even more judgy.


Maureen, you can see the car on your smartphone screen as it approaches? Why not simply be ready when the car pulls up? You make ten times what the drivers make. Uber takes a very healthy cut so that you can know when the car will arrive. The vibe of: “how dare these working-class people prefer to pick up somebody who will not waste their time!” is really unappetizing…

Originally published at www.bradford-delong.com.

J. Bradford DeLong

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