There's nothing worse than getting married, then realizing you could have done so much better. Such was the dilemma of tech media's preeminent naif, Farhad Manjoo, is ditching the Wall Street Journal to place David Pogue's crown upon his head at the New York Times, and is now the most coveted writer of our era.
In October, about a month after I'd started my new job as a tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal, long-time New York Times tech writer David Pogue announced that he was leaving for Yahoo.
Well, damn, that was the job he really wanted all along!
The fact that I spent like four seconds at the WSJ before departing to a rival raises all kinds of assumptions—mainly about my own character, granted, but also regarding the WSJ.
Indeed, even after I got the NYT offer, I agonized about what to do. Yes, this is sort of like the agony of choosing between two very delicious pieces of cake, but still.
That's tough, man.
But it all makes sense. We thought we noticed a change in Manjoo over the past year or so—a drift toward Blodgetesque ultra-cluelessness.
Is is food hacking if I take Trader Joe's Mac & Cheese and then add a lot of pepper, butter, and olive oil to make cacio e pepe?
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) January 10, 2014
Manjoo's dispatches seemed less like his old, usually insightful self at Slate, and more of the Hey, look, a mouse pad! variety. But it wasn't a brain tumor—it was method acting. To replace David Pogue, the corny neighbor who works at RadioShack and pinches your mom's ass at dinner, you must become David Pogue. This means becoming a charmer, yes—and Manjoo is very likable already. It also requires a loosening of the brain, turning your synapses to something resembling bread pudding. For Pogue was a one-man personality cult not just by grinning, spookily, all the time, but by assuming all the confusion and childlike amazement of his target audience.
Got to go to a store to scan something. I wish I had a fax machine.
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) January 16, 2014
To teach a child, you have to think like a child. To hunt and kill a bear, you must think as the bear thinks. To reel in the frustrated grandparents of western civilization, you have to absorb their confusion. You have to find small wonder in a good router, or a memory card that fits a lot of family videos. To be the new Pogue, you truly need to be the new Pogue.
There should be a way to cross out a tweet, and guarantee that everyone who saw the first tweet sees the cross-out. Make it flash or sparkle
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) January 3, 2014
It is done. Manjoo starts at the New York Times in February.
GIF by Michael Hession