Complaining gets a bad rap, but it's actually a pretty important skill: We're identifying problems, and we have to identify problems before we can solve them. If no one smells the proverbial fart, then it's impossible to identify the perpetrator and start slipping proverbial powdered Beano into their proverbial Crunch Wrap Supreme when they aren't looking.
But the problem is that complaining is just too much damn fun. We're so used to indulging in it that we've stopped paying our complaints the attention they deserve, and we've started sneaking gas-prevention pills into the wrong fast food. My point is that it's time to change the way we mumble bitterly to ourselves about ...
What We Complain About:
Like any social environment, Facebook comes with a whole bunch of unwritten rules about conduct. You don't "Like" posts about your neighbor's kid being eaten by a huge reptile in your apartment's lobby, you don't "Comment" on posts from people wondering how a creature like that got into the building in the first place, and you don't "Post" your frustration about how hard it is to find a litter box big enough for your huge, green, scaly, and surprisingly water-friendly cat.
Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty
Her name's Loki.
But the most important rule (or at least the only one that everyone agrees on) is about Facebook stalking: It's not cool to dig through someone's old pictures and like stuff from several years ago, and it's way worse to bring up all the stuff you learned about your friends from their profile in real life. Only a total creep would do that.
Here's an uncomfortable fact: Every picture you have on your Facebook profile has been stalked, multiple times, by everyone. All your friends, exes, former professors, employers, acquaintances, friends-of-friends, and prospective OKCupid dates have seen every picture of you there is. In fact, Facebook stalking is what Facebook is for -- so much so that some think the website is actually training us to be voyeurs.
Remember, the whole point of Facebook is connectivity, so complaining about privacy on it is just, like, the weirdest goddamn thing. At the end of the day, Facebook is basically just a weird blog platform, right? And yet it has somehow convinced us to think of it as a private place to put our personal information -- even though it's on the Internet. Seriously, how insane is it that we all fell for that? Thank God Mark Zuckerberg didn't go into drug dealing.
"Don't worry, this shit's totally safe. It's like the Facebook of heroin."
Why do we keep doing this? I think it's because we've convinced ourselves that we can get that thrill of exhibitionism that comes with sharing something without having to face the consequences of people remembering and reacting to that stuff. We think that pictures, like memories, fade with time. And every time we catch one of our friends Facebook stalking, we're getting mad at them for reminding us that we gave up all our privacy in exchange for the opportunity to conveniently stay connected to people we don't actually like.
What We Complain About:
Getting people to want to fuck you is one of the most strange and nuanced games in the world. First one sexy person starts what seems like a totally innocuous conversation (perhaps by making a casual reference to how they think cats are a pretty great pet). Then the other person replies with an appropriate comment (saying they agree, maybe praising cats' elegant ability to stalk and kill water buffalo). Finally, bam: It's Get-Friendly-With-Your-Genitals Time.
Taking your date out for sushi is a good way to show that you're not picky about what goes in your mouth.
That is ... as long as you know "the secrets." You know the secrets I'm talking about. The "flirting secrets" that we've decided a certain percentage of the population isn't allowed to know. Flirting and getting people to have sex with you is an ancient and closely guarded secret, which is why there are so few people who manage to procreate.
There are no flirting secrets, and it's not even really its own skill. In fact, according to science, flirting is pretty much the same for absolutely everyone who indulges in it. Rather than being a talent in itself, flirting is just a subconscious demonstration of skills and traits we have and are proud of (which is why really muscular people will flex or pose, wealthy people will flash their expensive watches or make reference to their nice cars, and smart people will be charmingly funny. Wink).
(I just winked at you.)
"But I get nervous every time I flirt!" Yes, but that's not because you're bad at flirting; it just means you get nervous around new people. You're not actually lacking an ability. People who pick people up in bars a lot aren't doing that because they practiced flirting on weekends all through high school, but also because they're comfortable around people they want to bone and have other traits that give them a lot of sex appeal. "Practicing flirting" wouldn't even make sense anyway, because there are no universal flirting techniques to practice -- some women aren't actually all that into smooth-talking Joseph Gordon-Levitt types (I know you don't believe me, but I've met these women, and they're real). Think about it this way: The "flirting" talent is a perk, not a skill, and not a prerequisite for a happy life full of bruised crotches.