Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Four Annoying Things About the Internet

You may have come to this post looking for a rant.

But you won’t find it here. Oh no.

You see, anyone can complain about the Internet. But not everyone can turn obnoxious uses of social media into something entertaining and educational. And that’s what I have for you today.

Here are four annoying things about the Internet, with suggestions for what to do about them other than complain. Because otherwise I would have had to list a fifth item to the list: “People Who Use Technology to Complain About Technology.” And that would be so many layers of irony that it would be like an irony lasagna.

One: Wrongly Attributed Quotes

I’m pretty sure that, according to the Internet, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and C.S. Lewis said everything deep, funny, or Christian (respectively) that has ever been said. We have an entire library’s worth of encyclopedia information at our fingertips, and somehow it’s still too much bother to look up whether that meme has cited its source correctly.

Instead of being frustrating, though, this should be inspiring. If anyone can be witty or profound just by attaching their name to a witty or profound bootlegged quote, why not you? Or just become the kind of person other people attribute quotes to at random. Elementary, my dear Watson. (Which, incidentally, Doyle’s Sherlock never said.­)

Two: Bad Spelling and Grammar

Blame autocorrect, blame instant sending of messages when you hit the enter key, blame that fact that spellcheck highlights every proper noun in existence so people start ignoring it. Blame whatever you want.

Or, instead of blaming people, you could make a delightful grammar guide like this one.

Also, you can screenshot all of the mistakes and put them together in a funny coffee table book.

And rejoice that you will get better scores in Scrabble or Words With Friends than any of these people. Unless by making a spelling mistake they actually spell another word you didn’t know about…

Any of those reactions are better than being “that guy” who constantly corrects people’s grammar, on the Internet and in real life. If your friend is about to make a mistake in a research paper or a tattoo, tell him. If it’s a Facebook status, let it go.

Because as soon as you become “that guy,” you are no longer entitled to make any grammar or spelling mistakes. Ever. And that’s just too much pressure.

Three: Terrible Logic and General Rudeness

Sometime in the future I’m going to write a post about ten things you shouldn’t post on Facebook. I’ve already posted about how to not be rude when arguing. But we’ve probably all seen debates and comment chains that go absolutely nowhere and just lead to unfriendings and anger. 

 Top three ways I deal with this one?

First, I save all of my Facebook statuses in a Word document. It’s a time capsule that also serves the benefit of making me think about what I post (“Is this really necessary? Will any discussion it starts be useful?”).

Second, if I join in on an Internet debate, which I don’t do often, I read my post, tone it down, and have someone else read it to make sure I don’t sound angry. Or stupid. Or both.

Third, if an argument is full of people being jerks making totally nonsensical arguments, I copy and paste the whole thing into a special file called “Dumb Arguments.” Someday, if I ever become a writing professor, I will have students rewrite these arguments for an exercise in how to write persuasively while still being civil. It’s going to be great.

Seriously, though, beware getting entangled in the blog/Facebook/Twitter feuds of doom. If someone didn’t understand your point or is trolling or just plain disagrees over and over again, at a certain point, you just have to leave it alone. I mean, really, how do you have a coherent, helpful discussion with someone who is being unreasonable? Answer: You don’t. You back away slowly and let them have the last word. I mean, what else are you going to do, throw a hashtag at them?

Four: Selfies

Am I going to say that it’s never okay to hold a camera out and snap a picture of yourself making a weird/sexy/happy/attempt-at-mysterious facial expression?

No. No, I’m not. Because I’m a writer, I can conceivably think of a scenario in which this form of self-photography would be necessary and perfectly acceptable. It would probably involve some sort of life-or-death emergency situation where you needed to document yourself for…a reason…of some kind.

Actually, I can’t really think of a scenario where a selfie would be necessary. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t one! And it certainly doesn’t mean that I think that the millions of selfies running rampant on the Internet are a sign that social media is feeding our vanity and allowing us to frame our image by controlling exactly the way we want to be perceived by others.

Sometimes, instead of rolling my eyes at the blatant self-photography displayed on my Facebook newsfeed, I try to caption the photo in my mind in two different things: A. What the person might be thinking at the time, and B. The nearest status from someone else that makes no sense with the picture but is absolutely hilarious. Try it. It’s a good time.

So, there you have it, ways to get use and entertainment out of the annoying features of the Internet. You’re welcome, my friends.

What annoying things about the Internet did I leave out? Comment with your suggestions for this list. Or just start a pointless argument. Your choice.

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