There are good components to social media to be sure, but in 2017 the bad tend to greatly overshadow them. Today partisan politics are crowding out family pics all while general jackassery reigns supreme.
Since I’ve become something of a curmudgeon in my old age, here is a “get off my lawn” manifesto featuring six things I’d love to shovel dirt upon in the near future.
1 -Demanding a public apology
Our latest obsession is to parse words until we are offended, whip up social media outrage, then demand instant gratification via groveling from whomever uttered them. It needs to stop.
All you are doing when you demand an apology is putting some poor publicist through the ringer as they bolt to thesaurus.com to look for a new way to take accountability and squash controversy.
“I’m not only sorry but also contrite, penitent, regretful and compunctious! Please don’t grab pitchforks and get me fired. These unfortunate [words or actions] do not reflect my values.”
Rinse and repeat.
The words the apologizer reads aren’t their own, are less than meaningless and can’t be satisfying. Stop demanding them. Apologies are like frequent flier miles. You think they matter, until you get them and realize they are essentially worthless.
2- Word inflation
I get that I’m a writer and something of a vocab geek, but it seems to me words no longer mean what they used to mean. I blame the triumvirate of electronic plagues– clickbait, search engine optimization and politics.
Today what passes for “outrage”, “jaw-dropping”, “stunning”, “breathtaking” and “the worst” is all far from it. Oddly this phenomenon has led to something of a “Hitler renaissance” for political comparisons. That alone should give us all pause.
“Off My Virtual Lawn! Social Media Trends that Need to Die” is a prime example of the nonsense — hypocrite!
3- Use of “full stop” to try and add power and drama to the words that precede it
This is a favorite in the never-ending political debates on social media. The debater (Freedom Fighter? Social Justice Warrior?) makes what they view as a foundational argument. Since exclamation point inflation is so rampant, they lack a way to punctuate it. Yet they also desperately need you to note their outrage, piousness or intelligence.
Their tool of choice is two words executed something along the lines of this…
“Trump is the least qualified president in the history of the U.S.—FULL STOP.”
We get it, you think what you are saying is profound and important enough for us to take notice. Just keep in mind that when it comes to importance, your reader will decide that for you—double full stop and three exclamation points!!!
4- The comments section after news articles
Have you ever read the comments people post after news articles? The vitriol, anger, racism and general tone of the discourse are absurd. This despite most of the major news outlets leveraging systems that allow you to flag offensive comments for removal. These are the ones that made it through!
Fake news may be an issue, but people who have time to weigh in on the real news are worse. It is no wonder we all hate each other, most of us are mean. Typically 140 characters at a time.
5- Personalizing absolutely everything
Every event that happens must lead to direct (and meaningless) action on social media to show which side we land on. We favorite, we upvote, we tweak our profile pics, all to feel like we are taking action on something important. We are all opinion leaders boldly wrapping ourselves in the flag du jour. Sadly the only action we are taking is narcissism.
Remember, like this post if you agree, favorite it if you disagree, share it if you’d like to receive our report on why you are better than everyone else.
6- Writing everything in questions form to seem interesting
Did I vote for Trump? No I did not. Do I have concerns about some of his views? Yes. Do these questions make my opinions seem more interesting? No.
Social media is about keeping abreast of what people are up to, sharing pictures and maybe the occasional recipe. And yes, I’m as big of a blowhard dummy as those I purport to expose, but I try to keep it to myself (except when ridiculing in this forum). Introspection, accountability and putting technology away are all keys to actually engaging in the world.
The point is that we can all do better. Not me though, mostly you.