Social Media Sucks

Facebook is among the most commonly visited websites in the world, and we’re not talking about just social media sites, but over the entire internet. YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit are right behind them when it comes to social media sites specifically. We are spending a lot of time on these sites sharing. Some people make money from their social media activity, some advertise in hopes of making money, but most just share. What we’re all sharing is part of why this seemingly amazing and useful interconnected world of information sucks so bad.

The last US Presidential Election cycle highlighted how it easy it is to take advantage of people’s innate biases to spread disinformation with social media. Literally fabricated accounts of the most ridiculous tabloid-style writing was passed off as legitimate news articles and shared by tens if not hundreds of thousands of people to their social media friends. Countless memes were created with false quotes implicating one candidate or another in something untoward, and again, spread like an out of control wildfire. We also now know that some of these falsified stories originated out of foreign countries, specifically targeting one particular candidate to attempt to influence the broader media coverage and voter’s attitudes toward this candidate. It worked remarkably well.

Disinformation and misinformation is just one aspect of the suckage that spews forth from social media. Spend a little time on Twitter, or reading YouTube or Facebook comments and you’ll see truly vicious and hateful rhetoric aimed at literally anyone and everyone. No matter the topic, from sports to politics, from breastfeeding to sexual orientation, everyone is a target.

Even in the less savage circles of the social media internet–and let’s face it, when you’re as big as Facebook, you might as well be called your own internet–everyone posting something on their page risks being embarrassed by their friends or family, critiqued or evaluated on the appropriateness of what they chose to share, or one-upped by someone whose vacation was just better than yours, or whose TV is more fabulous, or whose new car is even better than your new car.

Social media sucks because it’s used by people, and people suck. Social media has just given people an enormous platform to display their inherent tendencies, which unfortunately are really shitty. People are greedy, selfish, jealous, attention-seeking, vindictive, manipulative, and judgmental, just to name a few qualities off the top of my head. As Elaine Benes famously told Jerry Seinfeld: “I will never understand people.” To which Jerry responded with a fundamental fact about the human condition:

The Politics of Bullshit

Everything isn’t political spin. Every event isn’t seen through a prism of ideological preference. Some things just are what they actually are. If the Electoral College chooses a President who was selected by a minority of American voters, that’s exactly what is happening. If I find that troubling, it isn’t because I’m politically aligned with the losing side. It’s because 54% of Americans chose someone else. 10.5 million more people voted for someone other than the man who will be sworn in, yet sworn in he will be. I find this disturbing for the factual reasons, i.e. the United States will live under minority rule for the next 4 years, not because my political feelings have a boo-boo.

US Intelligence has found compelling evidence to suggest that the hacking of private government email accounts, and the releasing of that information to Wikileaks, was done by Russian agents, in what appears to be an attempt to influence the US Presidential Election. I find this troubling not because the Democratic candidate was the one who seems to have been affected by these actions, but because Russian agents interfered in a US Presidential Election.

Taken to the extremes, these ideological prisms we see things through result in a complete refusal to accept objective reality. Take the case of Alex Jones of InfoWars. This man doesn’t accept the objective reality that on December 15, 2012 in Newtown CT, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and 6 adult staff. He believes it was fabricated by an elaborate government conspiracy for the purpose of advancing a gun control political agenda. So he and his followers are so politically influenced, they see only political maneuvering in the mass murder of kids by a lunatic, and choose to ignore the bloody reality to make it fit their preconceived political ideology.

The human mind is burdened with consciousness layered atop the ancestral brain developed over billions of years of natural selection. Our minds are fundamentally flawed, seeking patterns where none exist, fearing the other from outside of our tribe, holding fast to deep-seated beliefs when contrary information makes us uncomfortable. We seek shelter from the storm with others who see what we see. I get it. But the spin cycle we’re currently in, exacerbated by the interconnected world we live in, with online means of aligning ourselves with like-minded people, and the simple, instantaneous way of spreading information (true and very untrue information) is creating chasms of separation, distrust and resentment unlike any in our lifetimes.

There are things that are objectively, factually accurate and represent only the things they actually represent. Someone wearing boots, or sporting a beard, or wearing flannel isn’t political. Starbucks trying out new colors for their paper coffee cups isn’t political. This madness has to stop because while we’re all busily complaining about whether our feelings got hurt, the people newly elected to power are hell bent on enriching themselves and their families for generations. They’d love nothing more than for the American populace to focus on Facebook memes, Twitter rants and arguing among themselves over who’s to blame for everything that bothers us rather than focus on them, and what they will actually do with their newfound weapons of mass enrichment.

 

 

 

Screw Social Media

Humans are social animals,  or so “they”  tell us.  It must be true because Facebook is now the most visited website in the Galaxy.  It seems everyone tweets now and if you aren’t posting pictures of your latest meal on Instagram,  you might as well not exist.

I get it;  I do it all too.  But no longer.  Effective immediately,  my days of sharing random thoughts,  interesting articles,  selfies or beard pictures are over.  Finito.  Done.  History.

I will still peruse the world wide Web of course.  How else would I know what the hell is going on in the world?! I don’t have cable or anything.  But I will no longer participate in the posting and the thing.  No one can make me either.