It's that time of year when we start to let go of what has happened over the last twelve months and look forward to doing things in a better way over the next twelve. Or if you're like me, it's just that time before the total hysteria of another year sets in and you proceed to re-up your diet pills, charge your crystals and pray to god(s)/Magic 8-ball that someone digs up a husband for you.
Anyway, inspired by the suggestion of words that need to be retired in 2013, here's a list of Internet-related things that should also cease to exist in the coming year, and make our virtual world a slightly better (if not less irritating) place.
7. Using Twitter as a news source and Facebook as a human database I know, not doing this seems impossible. Especially as Twitter has taken over as the way up-to-the-minute information is disseminated to the public in times of crisis. But when a news anchor quotes a random person's Twitter account as the source for information -- or worse, uses Twitter itself to share incorrect information and Facebook to gather photographs -- unverified data travels fast. Which is why the wrong individual was initially named in the recent Newtown tragedy.
At some point in the near future, it would rule if there were a way to quickly and accurately verify information as it was being spread. But for the time being, it is important to remember something: anyone can have a Twitter account. Famous dead rappers have Twitter accounts. Political gaffes -- Binders of Women, anyone? -- have Twitter accounts. Aziz Ansari's tweenage cousin Harris has a Twitter account with more than 26,000 followers. I'm not saying these accounts aren't trustworthy*, I'm just saying.
*However, if you get all of your news from Buzzfeed, I will trust you.
6. Creating social/political statements with memes if you can't use the very Internet you're posting within to spell/fact check the information first I've already rallied against the stupidity of memes in general, and how disappointed I am in my otherwise intelligent friends haphazardly reposting these idiotic, misinformed pieces of art-news on Facebook. But seriously. Make it stop. Or at least do a simple google search of the proposed "facts" you're trying to convey before posting commentary about gun control -- when a case (like the one used in the meme above) involves a fatal stabbing.
5. Writing sensational headlines that battle The Onion's in legitimacy Granted, legitimate news stories involving politicians saying things like "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" made actual headlines read like sensational ones, but there was a point in the midst of 2012's "legitimate rape-gate" at which it felt out of control. While the Todd Akins, Richard Mourdocks and Ron Pauls of the political world provided the fodder for Onion-like stories, there were still plenty of "Panel of rape supporters supports rapist's story of not-raping!" -type headlines that read like dramatic Facebook updates.
Meaning, readers couldn't even get to the lede without the publication/blog making up our minds for us. Just because journalism now happens on the Internet doesn't mean there are no rules. Can we maybe save all of the OMGs and WTFs of the written word for the copy, and at least leave headlines alone? It's the only part of an article anyone reads these days, anyway.
4. The obnoxious, self-congratulatory act of re-tweeting what people say about you We're all famous -- on Twitter. Yes, any time we interact with someone (especially a "stranger") on Twitter, it can feel as though they are our own personal #1 fan. I would know -- I'm Coco Davies, and you might know me from, um, my hilarious, laugh-a-tweet Twitter account. And I also know that when a journalist/musician/pop culture-ist of a higher caliber than my own inflated world starts following me on Twitter, I want to tell everyone about it.
But the thing is, no one cares. And if you are an actual B-List celeb or musician signed to a subsidiary of a once-behemoth record label, no one wants to see you retweeting posts from your fans about how great you are. They are your fans -- we get it.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then retweeting tweets about yourself is the most insincere. It's kind of like talking about yourself in the third person -- and the only people who do that in real life have no friends. Bree would know. Bree does this all the time to her audience of no one.
3. Cutting and pasting statements of "security" on Facebook Uh, so Facebook changes your privacy settings for you. A lot. In fact, your privacy is not only not the website's number one concern, it's kind of the opposite of what they want from you in the first place. This took a long time for me to understand myself, but when you sign up for Facebook, you're basically saying, I'll provide your website its content for free. Meaning, even when you cut, paste and post some sort of official "statement" concerning your privacy, it doesn't mean shit. Don't believe me? Here's a good explanation of how Facebook has effed with your "privacy" since 2009.
However, if you really want to make a statement about Facebook in 2013, why not be a true rebel and delete your account? It's just that simple -- well, except for that part about how all of your data still hangs around on the Internet for eternity in some form or another (ahem, and can we say screenshots?) Your best bet is to go back in time, never sign up for any website ever, ask every person you know not to take photos or post information about you, and attempt, in your mind, to control every physical and virtual paper trail you may produce.
2. Saying "goodbye" to Instagram While we're on this subject of privacy and content, it seems as though everyone who was all about sharing more photos of their cats, breakfasts and adult duckface "look at my cute outfit!" home-modeling shoots got all pissy when Instagram updated things and apparently messed with the ownership of our images.
But again, we, the Instagramed people, probably never read any of that privacy stuff in the first place when we joined. I mean really, when was the last time you read the pages of terms and conditions that came with the 27 apps you downloaded in the last week?
Chances are, never. When you're downloading an app that tracks how much water we drank today or acts as a good old-fashioned alarm clock, nothing is more annoying than having to click through those stupid paragraphs of words. In short, we do it to ourselves. We've never cared about privacy before, so why start now? Nothing looks less authoritative and mature than taking a random stand on an issue. Just give it up -- you put your stuff out there, it becomes everyone's.
1. And finally, saying "goodbye" to any website, period Social networking is kinda like the Lazy River at a water park: Once you stop contributing to the constant stream of information that your friends/family/coworkers/virtual strangers are currently wading in, someone else just takes your place. The river of human babble never stops -- it just keeps getting added to by whomever is peeing, er, posting in it.
So on that note, can't we just stop being dramatic for a moment and do something without telling our willing audience first? It's sort of like threatening to jump before actually jumping -- listen, we're all in this shit show called the Internet together and you know what? If you delete your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram account, no one cares. In fact, they won't even notice.
Not even your closest friends and family -- because they are too busy uploading pictures of babies and dogs to notice that you have stopped uploading pictures of babies and dogs.
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