Unnecessary Things #2: A Simple Guide to Social Media

Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s just be honest. SOCIAL MEDIA IS TAKING OVER EVERYTHING. I don’t even talk to my friends anymore. We just make inappropriate Facebook comments and tweet at each other (okay, the latter is incorrect; I have like 3 Twitter followers. NOT BEGGING FOR MORE FTR!). From what I can tell, people no longer watch the news. They just get their coverage of world events from things like 30-minute Youtube videos made by shady nonprofits that they see on their newsfeed. All this is cool. If people want to depend on their childhood next-door neighbor—who, for all they know, could be a crazy fascist advocating a government based solely on citizens’ knowledge of Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf—for political opinions, more power to them! However, I think it’s high time for a little social commentary on social media, pun intended. In other words, some good, old-fashioned etiquette lessons. Being the cotillion dropout that I am, I’ll just take this upon myself. Fear not, I’m pretty much an expert.

Article I: Profile Pictures

Can we please pause for a moment and harken back to the days of Myspace? Those ill-fated high school years spent wasting away in front of a blinking screen, our crush’s garage band’s page blazing brazenly in front of us as their terrible, poorly-made music veritably poured from our sister’s old speakers? Our longing to appear as ghostly as possible in front of a camera tilted nearly 180 degrees above our heads? Can we all just remember those blissful days before steadfastly running to the firm, self-conscious ground of the present?

High school is over, folks, and it’s time to put some thought into how we present ourselves to the world. No, we are NOT vampires. No, we are NOT club promoters. We are young twenty- or thirty- (NO ONE older has a place on Facebook) something men and women of the 21st century. We WANT to appear as though we don’t care, as though absolutely NO EFFORT was put into the image displayed at the top left corner of our Facebook page (yes, I refuse to acknowledge Timeline’s existence). So enough with the awk headshots, the weird “model” pics taken by your brother’s creepy friend. Put on your Toms, your fake Ray-Bans, take your Instagram app to the beach and ask a nearby homeless man to snap some shots of you, coolly sitting in the sand, announcing to the world: NO I DON’T WANT TO KNOW YOU.

 Article II: Statuses 

I’ll admit, it’s not easy for me to talk about statuses without getting a few bees in my bonnet. They have never been my favorite form of attention whoredom (why make a six-word status when you can write an ENDLESS blog entry?), but I understand that to some people they are a fun, “creative” way to let everyone know what that they’re allergic to peanut butter or get test anxiety or love vacationing in Cleveland. We’re all narcissistic sometimes—however, I still think there should be a few (at least 500) barometers regarding the type of content that content people are allowed to NEEDLESSLY spew.

For example, it is a universally accepted fact that NO ONE (probably not even your mother), is interested in useless information about your life. No one cares what you ate today! No one cares what you ate yesterday! No one cares what you are going to eat in the future! It literally does not matter. So please, PLEASE, unless Tom Colicchio has cooked you a personal feast or you got an reservation at Next or you just ate In-N-Out Burger for the first time, DON’T MAKE PUBLIC WHAT IS GOING THROUGH YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACK.

Perhaps even worse than the “useless information” status is the “wallowing status.” As its name suggests, proponents of the WS usually just want people to feel bad for them. They can’t quite accept the fact that living in a first-world country and owning a personal laptop makes them far better off than 95% of the world. Instead, they need to get an unreasonable amount of attention because they ripped their favorite dress. I’ve been there, AND IT REALLY ISN’T THAT BAD. [Editor’s note: and she made me mend her dress for her WHILE IT WAS STILL ON HER BODY.]

Far and away, however, the MOST offensive status category is the “Intentionally Cool Status.” The ICS occurs most often in people who are insecure and, instead of self-actualization, have decided to create an elaborate Internet identity they have neither earned nor understand. Common examples of the ICS are as follows:

1.  “Just saw Dylan live, his voice really is shot. But I sure dig that harmonica.”

2.  “Check out my memoir-themed blog at www.Iamselfinvolved.wordpress.com.”

3.  “I just HATE getting mistaken for Alexa Chung.”

Article III: Posts

There really isn’t much to say about posts. They can be a great way to share interesting information with your personally-curated public. I’ll just make a single blanket rule: If you’re posting an article about something being covered in the national news, JUST ASSUME EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS. Facebook does not exist so you can pretend that you are the owner of CNN whose personal duty it is to draw attention to the fact that you read the New York Times.

A Short Addendum: Tweets

There was a sad, lonely time in my life when I though Twitter was the Antichrist. I thought nothing could be more selfish or useless. Yes, when I was a poor and confused undergrad, you could have heard me uttering the five most terrifying words in the English language, “I agree with Jonathan Franzen.” But things have changed, my friends. I have awakened. I now know that that small white box holds greater possibilities than the most velvety of Moleskine pages. It is a place uninhibited by anything more than word limit.

So please, put your pride on the shelf, come up with a nifty screen name (JournalistMeri is taken), and open yourself to the possibilities of creating pure, unedited, Internet poetry.

Unnecessary Things is a column written by Meriwether Clarke, a poet with the eye of a dictator.

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