Rule #1: Don’t be a scroll-whore.
Oh, I know—I do it too. Sitting in bed, on the couch, on the shitter, scrolling endlessly through my Twitter feed, face vapid and expressionless as a cow chewing its cud.
But really, is that the point of social media? No—hence the word “social.” Yes, we want to see what our peeps are up to, and yes, to do that, we have to scroll through our feed, but the point is to interact—to like, retweet, heart, comment, and/or whatever the fuck they do on Snapchat and Tumblr and all the other ones I’m not on.
Instead I get the sense most people use social media like a non-interactive picture book—which is something even my 19-month-old kid gets bored with after five or ten minutes. And on that topic, if your feed’s as chock fucking full of pictures of peoples kids as mine is, scroll-whoring starts to border on… OK, I won’t go there—let’s just say it’s a little weird.
But in all seriousness, we’re human fucking beings! We have massive brains capable of generating complex thoughts and ideas, solving difficult problems, and producing creativity that can prompt laughter one minute—tears the next. To dumb all that down to mindless scrolling, ignorant of our physical surroundings, idiots gliding through pictures without reaction… WWTS (what would Trump say)?
And for once we agree.
Rule #2: we don’t need to see every photo of your adorable fucking kid.
There are several reasons for this:
A) After a while, it makes people feel bad because:
- Your kid is cuter than their kid.
- Your kid’s always doing fun things that their kids aren’t.
- They don’t have kids, don’t want kids, don’t like kids, and yet all you give them: more fucking kids.
B) Life is more than posing for pictures. Remember, not every picture is a piece of art. In fact, most photos are products of vanity and obsessing over them is a sign of narcissism. That’s something we absolutely DO NOT need more of in this world. See Trump, Donald.
C) Life is more complex and beautiful than screaming trampoline birthday parties, as beautiful and complex as those are. In other words, kids are great, but the magic you feel in the moment with your child doesn’t translate through the pictures you post on social media. My little boy swinging and smiling is fucking amazing to me?—?but to the rest of the world, it’s just a cute little boy smiling on a swing, like any other child would do.
D) Sometimes my entire feed is composed of pictures of kids. This is neither necessary, nor entertaining, nor engaging—there are only so many pictures I can like, or comment “cute” on before I want to punch myself in the face and bathe myself in vodka.
Which brings us to…
Rule #3: Don’t do holidays… like Mother’s Day for example, because:
A) All you will see is shit about Mother’s Day—literally (this is the correct use of the term literally, by the way, which does not need to be literally incorporated into literally every fucking story you literally tell about yourself)—trust me, I’ve checked. It’s actually quite astounding: everyone seems to think they have to post something about whatever holiday it happens to be… but, you just don’t.
No really, you don’t. Or at least, if you are, post something original—tell a funny story about the holiday, or put a spin on it. Otherwise, it’s just the same boring thing as everyone else, and it cheapens the nostalgia. You don’t want to cheapen the nostalgia, do you?
B) Saying “I love you mom” on Instagram doesn’t replace actually being with your mom and bringing her flowers, or at least using your awesome smart phone to place a phone call. I know. Sorta old fashioned—but still the right thing to do.
C) Everyone loves their mom—even Donald Trump (“let me tell you, my mom is so great, she’s the smartest greatest person out there—so much better than your mom, let me tell you—so many moms are criminals and rapists. Some I assume are good people, but no one makes deals like my mom”). Saying “I love you mom” or “you’re the best” on social media is about as original and heartfelt as saying, “thoughts and prayers” after a tragedy of some sort. Both might be technically true, but hopes and prayers don’t resurrect the dead, and your mom doesn’t give a shit—she knows she’s the best. Bring her flowers. Take her to dinner. Produce grandchildren (only if you’re a responsible human and promise to abide by Rule #2). Words matter, but I guarantee your mom thinks actions matter a hell of a lot more.
Rule #4: Don’t be fake.
You know, real—like at the end of Pinocchio.
Seriously. People who can’t share or retweet or occasionally like something their friends/family posts, especially something important or regarding politics, are one or more of the following: timid cowards, modern hedonists, or apathetic assholes.
A) The Timid Coward: I actually agree with stuff I see on social media, but I don’t want to share, retweet, or like it because I’m afraid of what people I work or am friends with will think about me and my views (note: I didn’t include family because no one gives a flying fuck what their family thinks—that’s kind of the beauty of it).
B) The Modern Hedonist: I’m still playing the high school popularity game because I’m too dumb and shallow to do anything else, so I don’t ever want to appear or affiliate with anything remotely controversial; hell, I don’t like taking a stand on a basketball game. Besides, as far as anyone knows, I’m practically perfect in every way—just like Mary fucking Poppins (btw, NO ONE is perfect like Mary Poppins, and if you say so in my presence, I, the author of this blog, will punch you). My entire life is focused on taking pictures of me and my friends/family glorifying ourselves in whatever way humanly possible, usually eating good food or drinking while on vacation in some spectacular fashion. #ILOVEFUCKINGBRAGGING!
C) The Apathetic Asshole: I just don’t give a fuck, even though most of the good things in my life require someone else giving a fuck. Meh. If I believed in something spiritual–which I don’t, because that would require having a soul–I’d be mad at God for wasting carbon on me.
Look, does this mean you have to shove your beliefs in everyone’s face like I do (oops–sorry)? Of course not. But think about it: if you’re embarrassed or apprehensive to say what you really believe, what does that say about your beliefs? If your views are based on strong moral grounds, what real objections can anyone make about them you can’t defend or justify? If they’re not, then why the hell do you believe what you believe?
See, that’s the kicker: people don’t like talking about politics because it’s contentious—but why is it contentious? Because most people view politics as part of their identity, and if political beliefs are tied to your identity, then an attack on a political position or politician suddenly becomes a personal attack. And then it’s emotional.
But politics isn’t emotional—it’s game theory. At the end of the day, hating Donald Trump or Barack Obama doesn’t matter–it’s what they do that affects your life that matters. In it’s purest form, politics is about what policies are best for the greatest number of people in society, given their economic and social impact. But too many people think it’s about name calling and creating enemies and calling shit they don’t like fake news and winning—which is why U.S. politics is so fucked.
As for those who ignore controversy, let’s start with the Modern Hedonist. Just understand: you aren’t fooling anyone—you’re a yuppy. And a narcissist. That’s it. No one smart or not also shallow thinks more of you or wants to hang out because the avatar you’ve created on social media is so fucking awesome. The only thing that sort of profile evokes is jealousy, but mostly, it just looks fake. Because it is (I so want to name names here, but I won’t because I don’t want to get sued).
Seriously, if you have to brag about your life through a series of vain, clearly staged pictures on social media, I’m sad for you. I mean, we’re all happy you’re enjoying life, but along with those awesome pics, it’d be nice to hear what you actually think–and that might include shit that didn’t go quite right, like burning pancakes or something. A little honesty goes a long way. And if that’s not the point, then just admit it: you’re on social media strictly to brag about your life. Donald?
As for the Apathetic Asshole, that’s the most selfish and transparent thing of all. Don’t be that guy–and yes, it’s usually a dude. Not caring what happens to others or the world isn’t cool—it sucks. Balls. And if you’re apathetic because “no one ever changes anyone’s mind about politics,” that’s absolutely untrue. It’s true that a single encounter—especially on social media—is unlikely to change someone’s mind, but think about gay marriage. That issue went from 50/50 just 5-10 years ago, to now where most people don’t give a shit. Minds were changed, were they not?
Indeed, social research shows people tend to adopt the views of their community. For example, if everyone in your social circle thinks climate change is a hoax (which is dumb—and wrong), hearing facts contradicting that belief probably won’t change your mind (which is also dumb–and wrong). However, if a few people in that same social circle—even a very small percentage—start saying it’s real, truth gains huge traction and most of the people in the group will eventually change their views.
The other reason people give for apathy is false equivalency: both parties are equally bad. Knives are just as dangerous as guns. X is the same as Y.
WRONG. Sorry, but that’s just pure bullshit. Rarely in life are two opposing ideas equal. And in reality, it’s just not true that there are multiple solutions to every problem—or at least, it’s certainly not true that different solutions will lead to the equal results. They almost certainly won’t, and as a society, we need to stop pretending otherwise. False equivalency is a logical fallacy: it’s an excuse for lazy thinking—or not thinking at all. So please, for the love of God, stop it. I’m looking at you NPR.
(Those fuckers—especially Morning Edition. Continuation of side bar: please, please DO NOT donate money to them. They have done more for false equivalency than perhaps any other news organization out there. In a way, NPR is worse than Fox–because you at least know who Fox is! With NPR, it’s a slow slippery slope to bullshit belief. Fuck NPR. I hate them.)
Rule #5: Don’t tolerate the crazy.
I used to have a crazy friend on Facebook. She’d give me a hard time about being liberal, and I’d ask her to take off her tinfoil hat and join the rest of the sane world. But recently, when she came up with this theory (no doubt a product of a deep state reddit dive into Trump world) that Trump was a genius who was draining the swamp and setting everything up just perfectly to #MAGA, I had to say sayonara.
And so should you. If someone’s compulsively posting stuff that is evil, toxic, or just plain weird on a regular basis, or you end up, like I did, arguing with someone who’s political views are insane (after all, I’m not the one who got tricked by Russian propaganda), don’t be afraid to cut the cord.
If you’re not sure where to draw the line, ask yourself this question: is this person acting in good faith? If they’re spreading/falling victim to fake news, arguing in circles, constantly changing the subject, or making personal attacks, they’re not. And I’m not talking about someone who does this once or twice, but someone who is regularly engaged in the evil, toxic, or crazy.
I know, I know: this only further seals our information bubble. But is it really worth the negative energy? No. And what’s good about getting bad information? Nothing. Plus, if enough people cut evil, toxic, crazy people off, maybe they’ll figure out they shouldn’t be that way.
Here’s to hoping.
Sorry, I went off on that last topic—but fuck it, this is my blog so I’ll do what I fucking want.
Rule 1: Don’t be a scroll whore.
Rule 2: We don’t need to see every photo you take of your adorable fucking child.
Rule 3: Don’t do holidays.
Rule 4: Don’t be fake.
Rule 5: Don’t tolerate the crazy.
I’d add a sixth rule, but it really has nothing to do with being on social media—it’s about not being on social media. I’ve made a distinct effort to consume less of recent, and I have to say, it’s pretty great. I read more, have more time to think, listen to music, and overall, I’m more present: a human being focused on actually being, not wasting it scrolling through my damn Facebook feed.
Besides, the algorithms are ruining it anyway.
If you like the above, check out my new novel Cherry City Pulp! An awkward, sexy, funny, and sometimes violent story about relationships, sex, high school, and young people growing up in Oregon, chock full of satire and social commentary. Also, please help me out by making a donation on ChuckingRocks.com. Every penny counts. If you can’t make a donation at this time, the other way you can help is to spread the word–so please, like, share, email, tweet, and/or retweet our posts. Remember to follow me on twitter @AuthorJeffAllen or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.