Monday, March 4, 2013

five things you need to stop sharing on facebook

Sharing is good. We learned it in Kindergarten...unless you went to a Kindergarten taught by Ayn Rand, in which case you learned rational self-interest instead: "You didn't bring enough gum for the whole class? Good for you."

The Internet has made it possible to share on a much larger scale than ever before. Because we forget this fact, or perhaps are intoxicated by it, we've developed a tendency to overshare when it comes to social media. So I've compiled the following list of things that, for the love of God, I wish people would stop sharing on Facebook.

1) amazing claims that a quick visit to snopes reveals to be false

Whether it's what Facebook or Instagram can do legally do with your personal photos or the latest celebrity that isn't getting enough media coverage for a saying or doing something shocking(ly political), if it makes you do a double take and your news feed is the only place you're hearing about it, that should be a red flag that it doesn't pass the smell test of mixed metaphors.

I can understand being so gullible in the early days of the Internet, before everyone knew about Nigerian princes and $250 cookie recipes. Now, there's just no excuse for not going to snopes.com first. (Protip: As of 12:00 a.m. this morning, laziness still does not qualify as an excuse.) A friend recently re-posted an article full of half-truths and prefaced it by saying, "I'm not sure if this is true, but it's interesting." Obama riding a unicorn to Mars, shouting as he goes, "Vladimir Putin wears women's panties!" is interesting, but I'd rather you not pass it off as potentially factual when it's as simple as visiting one website beforehand to not be part of the problem.

Some people will say, "Snopes isn't the last word in what's factual." Fuck those people--it's better than nothing. You don't like Snopes? Then at least get one independent confirmation from a reliable source. If journalists aren't above doing it, you aren't either. Or, you know, you could just err on the side of caution and not share something that seems dubious.

2) "brainteasers" that anyone with average intelligence can easily do

This one takes many forms, from counting triangles to spotting mistakes to naming cities without a certain letter in them. Often times, there's a tantalizing percentile given that you will supposedly be in the upper echelon of if you can answer. These puzzles might be challenging if you're Corky from "Life Goes On," but if your IQ is at least as high as your body temperature, then you should be able to unravel most of these riddles in under 10 seconds, and exactly no one will be impressed.

3) Harlem shake videos

Stop. Just stop.

4) the false dilemma guilt trip

"If you're not afraid to say you love Jesus, you'll re-post this as your status." Really? I will? You can predict the future? This type of "share pollution" posits a false dichotomy in which your unwillingness to re-post someone's lame, misguided idea of a badge of honor somehow equates to opposition to the thing itself. "Share this if you hate cancer." No, I'm not going to share it, because obviously I looooove cancer. Or, you know, maybe I just have better things to do than try to make everyone else's day a little more inane.

5) how great your lunch, view, weather, or significant other is

Just because life is all sunshine and puppy dogs for you, it doesn't mean you have to rub it in. Studies have shown that there is a real medical thingy called Social Media Depression, whereby people tend to compare the quality of their lives against what they see their friends posting. And unless their friends are totally emo, they're probably just posting the positive stuff, which creates an unrealistic impression that everyone you know online is better at life than you are, which leads to a lot of Zoloft. By bragging about what a swell life you lead, you're driving your friends to melancholy, making you, in fact, a horrible, horrible person. (See also #3.)

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