It took a little over ten years of encroachment, little by little. I don’t even recall when exactly it began, probably three or four years ago. But social media has finally bested me. The diatribes I see from everyone with a fucking axe to grind about something or other, pushing causes in a slacktivist rendition of “check out my mixtape, fam,” sharing rehashed content that serves as little more than a way to get some ad revenue.
For once in my life, I’d rather see a picture of your ugly baby than see another article about why your candidate is Jesus Christ and the other guy is Shitbag Hitler III. I am worn all the way the fuck out.
I don’t even know why I have 500 friends. I talk to…20 of you at the absolute most? I don’t even recognize some of your names, and it’s from those teenage years where more friends = more better person. I think every generation was told by their parents and other elders that you’ll grow apart with time, and every generation could flawlessly see the future and indirectly told said elders to shove it up their ass. And then we grow apart with time like we were fucking told would happen. But now there’s this weird tether of social media keeping us in the peripheral vision of the people we otherwise would’ve dumped like last week’s garbage.
It’s not all bad. I probably wouldn’t have known that a six-year classmate of mine, just starting to dabble with a guitar when we left high school, made it into Rolling Stone magazine. I wouldn’t have known that someone I went to college with my freshman year was in a horrific accident, and had to learn to talk, walk, feed himself, and basically become a human being again, leaving me troubled and grateful as I followed his rehabilitation. I wouldn’t have known that a particularly sharp friend of mine would decide to take up web development and become a force of nature at Yahoo and Twitch, and then go on to work with tech startups. I would have missed that a classmate met a fucking senator and could run for public office in California with really good odds. I certainly wouldn’t have known how many ugly babies my fellow high school alumni have pumped out in ten years. But, you know, that was the sort of stuff I wanted to know about in the first place.
Any given day in 2016, as I scroll through my Facebook feed, I see some shitty Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump memes; some gifs that I saw on reddit a couple weeks/months/years back; some disgusting fucking recipe in action that leaves you with a pile of bacon fried pizza cheese whatever the fuck; three or four different people hawking their Herbalife/Scentsy/Avon/Amway/other shit I should buy to facilitate their lifestyle when they could probably make more money digging a ditch somewhere; more shitty Trump memes (#MakeAmericaDrumpfAgain, oh you guys are so clever); some post from two days ago that Facebook thinks is interesting but it’s really a deep discussion on the ham sandwich somebody ate or something; one or two horribly inflammatory articles shared by my dumbass redneck classmates from high school that apparently are unaware they’re friends with an atheist from Puerto Rico; and probably 20 sponsored posts interspersed that want my click for their ad revenue, hawking shit I don’t care about on a site that would give the bog-standard computer gonorrhea. “Viral” board-approved marketing campaigns that are killing my fucking sanity.
I never asked for this shit.
See, I wanted to know when you got a promotion. I wanted to know if you’re moving somewhere new and exciting. I certainly want to know if there’s a brewery nearby making kickass beer. I wanted to know if you’re gonna give stand-up comedy a try, or that you’re going to a concert that I’m going to. I want to know you’re gonna be a goddamned astronaut, or a firefighter or a line cook or a middle manager.
I want to know how you’re doing.
I was worn out enough with the shit that I made a serious decision to go to Google+, the RC Cola of social media. When I last looked at it, it was barebones, generally limited to good conversations from bright people. That was a couple marketing meetings ago, apparently. G+ has the same affliction now, labeled as “Trending on Google+”. It’s the same shit, but because nobody’s on G+, there’s a lot more of it proportionally. Oddly, Google does not have any idea what I’m interested in despite being a Google user since 2002 and having used Chrome for probably eight years. I don’t give a shit about this parrot. I don’t want to see this new Ferrari. That picture of a church is very poorly composed and the white balance is a mess. Fuck off with your UFO sightings. Seriously, you guys have what amounts to my life story. You have everything I’ve ever done a search for. This is the best you can fucking offer?
It’s pretty much unavoidable. Pinterest has sponsored shit, for crying out loud. Twitter’s sponsored stuff has been in for years. Tumblr has it. Instagram has it. I don’t know what the fuck Periscope is, but I’d wager it has it too, or will shortly.
So here I am, in the one place that is ad-free, not tested by focus groups, not written with hopes of going viral, and maybe I’m wrong for expecting anything else of the evolution of the Everyman’s Web. Maybe I’m weak for not having a bigger commitment to writing regularly. I bet that if there was a 3 paragraph minimum to post something on Facebook with a 250 word minimum for comments there’d be a lot more dialogue that I’d want to join.
End rant, for now anyway. I’ll write more here, and IT shit is going to my new blog at bluesoul.me where I wrote a piece today on making secure, screened home folders programmatically with group policy.