The thing I love about social media is that it lets people instantly share every little thing about their lives. The thing I hate about social media is that it lets people instantly share every little thing about their lives.
Don’t get me wrong. I care about my friends (except Freddy, because fuck that guy), but there are only so many of their detailed dietary diaries I can read before slowly turning insane. We’re probably all guilty of misusing social media in one way or another. No, not like that, you pervert…but I like the way your mind works.
Here are four of the worst social media crimes:
4. Inane statements
This is one of the most widespread crimes. There’s something about humans that makes us convinced the world can’t exist without finding out what we’ve had for lunch or hearing our opinions on the current weather and our neighbor’s sleeping patterns.
It gets even worse when a whole group of people engages in a conversation that’s essentially about nothing.
But at least the above examples deal with something people have actually experienced. The worst offenders are those who feel compelled to bombard their social media friends with somebody else’s motivational and/or profound quotes.
Honestly, there are countless websites where all sorts of quotes can be found. I know how Google works. I can find them without your help. Please stop being a random quote generator.
“Please stop being a random quote generator“—Daniel Nest, 2014
3. Games and apps
At one point, in a dusty cubicle of Facebook’s “Idea Generation Farm” (or wherever they keep their workers), one ambitious fellow came up with a brilliant idea. “I got it!” he yelled, “People play games. Our users are people. Why don’t we let our users play games with each other? And why don’t we make it so that whenever a user signs up to play a game, all of his friends get bombarded with quadrillion invites to said game until they want to murder his family? Also, don’t you think ‘Murder His Family’ is a good name for a game?”
And then this happened:
I’ve been using Facebook since before it was cool. It was called MySpace then, and I never actually used it. So yes, I just lied. But I did use Facebook for almost 10 years, and not once have I ever accepted a game invite. Sure, I can block a game from ever sending me invites, but new games pop up faster than I can click that “block” button.
Inviting your friend to a game of Banana Ninja or Candy Slaughter Extreme is how you tell them that your friendship is essentially over and that this virtual imitation of human interaction is all that’s left between you.
All of the above goes for the many quiz apps and the like. I’m not particularly interested in finding out which Friends character I most resemble (it’s Phoebe, by the way). And if I were, I wouldn’t want to install a Facebook app to help me solve that mystery. I’d ask my friends personally. Then I’d go quietly weep at home when they told me it’s Ross. God, Ross is awful.
2. Unverified information
Over the years, social media has become a viable alternative to traditional news sites. That’s hardly surprising: Why would you want to read what some stupid journalist has to say? It’s much easier to just click “share” on that post from your friend Phil. Phil may lack journalistic credentials, but he does one hell of a Robocop impression, so why wouldn’t you trust him?
The problem is that, most of the time, those sensational stories that spread like wildfire on social media are either grossly exaggerated or straight up invented. If you’ve ever shared a wacky story about some hilariously ridiculous thing that happened in [Insert Exotic, Far Off Country Here], there’s a good chance you’re guilty of accidentally spreading bullshit.
To avoid participating in this “Pass The Lie” marathon, try to pause for a second. Ask yourself: Does the story sound too insane to be true? Then it might just be. If the story cites a scientific study or another source—check the source. Does it say what the story claims it says? Does it appear solid?
“That’s stupid, Daniel. What if my story doesn’t reference any sources? What do I check then?”
Here’s a hint: If your story’s only source is “a nameless witness who has been given this information by undisclosed sources close to the President,” then the story is probably something some social media marketing interns have pulled out of their asses that very morning. Don’t encourage them. We live in an age where information is at your fingertips in literal seconds. There’s no excuse for not doing a quick Google search to see if this story checks out.
Sites like Snopes.com exist for a reason—to stop people from spreading the same urban legend that’s already been debunked three decades ago. If you blindly share a story about a silly lady who thought she got pregnant after eating a bowl of cereal while watching an erotic TV show, then you might just be the silly one for spreading it. So spend a moment to verify the facts before clicking that “Retweet,” “Share,” or “Buzzify” button. (“Buzzify” is a thing, right? Social media lingo ain’t easy.)
Oh man. I can’t believe I even need to write about this one, but people on social media share movie twists and finales with surprising frequency. This is the worst thing you can do to your friends. If you’ve ever written a status the only message of which was “No way! Dave was the murderer all along?! Unreal!” then you’re a terrible person and your friends hate you. You probably smell of cabbage, too.
You ruin a movie for a whole crowd of people who were hoping to get wowed by the fact that Brad Pitt turns out to have secretly been a cyborg puppy in his latest movie. Now you’ve taken that away from that with your big social media reveal.
Don’t do this.