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Friday, September 21 Living

Jim Shea imagines new career paths for the internet age

The news commentary game is changing.

With the internet and social media platforms, anyone can have a dumb opinion these days, anyone can rant and rave, anyone can be a blowhard, anyone can be a columnist.

I need to look toward the future. I need to be proactive, see what opportunities might be out there. One job that looks interesting is that of troll. Definitely an ever-growing field. This is not your mother’s troll, however. The troll has reinvented itself since its storybook days. For one thing, you don’t necessarily have to be hideous looking or live under a bridge to be an internet troll.

So that’s a plus.

Nor do you have to have any particular expertise to work in the troll business, which is also a major plus. Granted, the internet troll does not enjoy a good reputation. In general, they are seen as angry, disruptive people who offer their often strident views and comments while hiding behind the anonymity of the computer screen. Kind of like newspaper editorial writers.

There are, of course, different types of trolls. Russian trolls are getting a lot of attention at the moment for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Some of the trolls indicted by the Robert Mueller investigation were said to have worked on “troll farms,” while others were said to have worked in “troll factories.”

If I were going to get into the troll business, I think I would prefer to work on a troll farm. It just sounds healthier. I wonder if they have organic troll farms?

Another job you hear a lot about is hacker. A hacker is a person who uses his computer skills to gain unauthorized access into someone else’s computer. Even if gaining unauthorized access into other people’s computers were something that had appeal, I don’t think it would work for me as an occupation. For one thing, I think to be a hacker you have to know a lot about computers. If I can remember my log-in and password, I’m in my own personal geek zone.

The other thing about being a hacker is the physical component. President Trump describes hackers “as someone sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds.”

I don’t know how he knows this, but he’s the president and the president always knows stuff we don’t. If I decided to become a hacker, I’d have to gain a lot of weight.

Aside from the internet, another job category that has exploded over the past few years is roving TV commentator. Cable news networks abound with shows featuring roving TV commentators, which often rove from one show to the next all day long.

To be a successful roving TV commentator, the key thing is to have an opinion that is in step with the ideology of the network you are appearing on. Whether you are right or wrong makes no difference. Being a roving TV commentator is never having to say you’re sorry.

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One of the obvious differences between print opinion writers and roving TV commentators is attractiveness. You don’t have to be attractive to be a roving TV commentator, but if you are you will get to do a lot more roving.

Conversely, you don’t have to be unattractive to be a print opinion writer, but it does seem to work out that way. OK, so I’m thinking roving TV commentator may not be a good fit, either.

I don’t know, maybe I should look into job opportunities in the “person” field. You know, like being the person who is the “person close to the investigation.”

The only danger with being a person is that you could end up being a “person of interest.”

Being a person of interest rarely ends well.

Jim Shea is a lifelong Connecticut resident and journalist who believes the keys to life include the avoidance of physical labor and I-95. He can be reached at jimboshea@gmail.com and on Twitter @jimboshea.

Jim Shea|Columnist

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