Marketplace Scratch Pad

"Jumping the shark" has jumped the shark

Scott Jagow Apr 21, 2009

I’d rather watch re-runs of Fonzie on water skis than read another headline that a company, a TV show or a person has jumped the shark. But alas, in this fast-paced age of Twitter, the phrase pops up all the time. In fact, Twitter has jumped the shark. Didn’t you hear?

All over the blogosphere and Tweetdom, people have been saying that Twitter jumped the shark when Oprah got involved a few days ago. I guess the assumption is that Twitter can only go down from here, even though it’s just three years old and seems to have gone from relative obscurity to internet stardom in about two months.

Of course, Twitter also jumped the shark two months ago when Washington started Tweeting.

This insidious phrase was coined by a University of Michigan student and led to a website about TV shows like Happy Days that have peaked and are headed for cancellation. As I’m sure you know, the reference is to the episode where Fonzie jumps over a shark on water skis. It’s supposed to mean a show has run out of ideas. I find it hard to fathom that Twitter has run out of ideas already.

Google ran out of ideas in about 1999, I believe. Yes? And it jumped the shark again in 2003. And again in 2006. And two years ago. MySpace and Facebook — they’ve jumped a school of sharks.

I’ve also seen Tweets this week that Susan Boyle has jumped the shark. I don’t know if she can even ski. Maybe when her first record actually comes out, we’ll learn about her water sports skills.

A couple days ago, tech writer Sarah Lucy broached a similar topic. She called on bloggers to “band together and stop the hype cycle:”

Building a company is hard. No one gets every single thing right. Bloggers harping on each mistake are like the fat guy sitting in the bleachers at a baseball game berating a star player for not hitting a home run in every at bat.

Of course, for some people, that’s part of the fun of going to a baseball game. People in the stands can shout whatever they want. A good company or player or person won’t be brought down by people claiming they’re done. Maybe it’s extra motivation, I don’t know. I’m sure the shark phrase will live on, but I for one, would like to see it retired.

What I want to know is when the recession will…

peak.

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