4 Obnoxious Behaviors The Modern World Made Worse
Just when we thought some of the old annoyances of the 20th century had died out, they come roaring back new, improved, upgraded, and intensified like the government dug up their corpses and stuffed them with hydraulics and, like, RAM sticks and shit, and turned them into deadly cybernetic warriors. They didn't die. They were waiting. They were adapting. They. Were. Evolving. They've returned, fortified by modern technology, designed to annoy us anywhere, everywhere, and at the convenience of the person who wants to annoy us.
Vacation Slideshows Can Happen Anywhere, Anytime
A family vacationed in Niagara Falls, and due to their deeply rooted psychological desire for approval and acceptance, they would force their uninterested friends and family to sit through a slideshow of every picture they took while there. I thought that was a thing that happened only in movies, until the mom of a childhood friend sat down a bunch of us unruly kids who mainlined sugar in front of a projector and made us look at slides of her family's trip to Puerto Rico. That bitch.
The trope is real. It's a real and terrible thing that real and terrible people used to do. Thankfully, that form of social waterboarding went out of style a long time ago.
Phew! We dodged a bullet there, guys! All right, we're done. Article over.
Ha! No, it didn't. Humans are assholes who want you to know everything about them, even if it means having to exploit the fact that most people don't have the Larry David-sized balls to escape painful social situations. The camera people bring with them on vacation and the projector they will later torment you with are now one in the same: the smartphone.
If you run into a person within a couple of weeks after their vacation (and if they're a pushy dick who cares naught for how little you care about their vacation) they will make that moment you chat at a party, bump into each other at a grocery store, or see each other at the mall into the dreaded vacation slideshow trope. Now any place can be the living room of the worst, most show-offy family on the block. With each swipe across the screen they show off yet another picture of a time when, no matter what you were doing at that exact moment the picture was snapped, they were having more fun and making more lasting memories than you were.
"Somewhere on here I have proof that I'm better than you."
These people are social sociopaths. They lack empathy as well as all sense of how little anyone cares about anything they do with their lives. One day they will learn all of that, and it'll probably be the same day they learn it's much easier to put the pictures in a Facebook album so their friends list can secretly hate-click through it in a jealous rage brought on by never having enough money to go on vacations themselves.
Speaking of not having money ...
People Who Begged You for Cash in Person Can Now Beg Everyone for Cash Online
They're on street corners. They're the deadbeats in your family. They're the stoner roommates who never have enough money to feed themselves but always have enough for weed and have never once let their World of Warcraft subscription lapse. They are the beggars of the world, and I can sympathize. I've been there. Not having money for whatever reason isn't fun, and it's not a situation the beggar is content with. Asking someone -- a stranger on the street, a friend, a parent -- for money is admitting that you suck at attaining one of the most basic elements of modern survival. It's embarrassing, especially since the world is loaded with people for whom effortlessly making a fuckload of money can be medically classified as an involuntary bodily function alongside breathing and blinking.
And being an asshole.
Kickstarter is, essentially, a website where beggars who don't smell like piss and probably don't have horrible afflictions and addictions and who don't hold signs god-blessing you for even looking at them can beg the world for cash just like the people who do. They need your money to complete a dream project, like a video game, or a movie, or a potato salad. It brought begging into the digital age, legitimized it to a degree, and democratized the powers once held by financially conservative corporate big-wigs.
Hey, look! It's this guy again! Hi, this guy!
Then people took the idea of crowdfunding to its logical, absurd, and sad conclusion: sites where people can just ask for money. Begslist.com. Ebeggars.com. Cyberbeg.com. People flock to these sites, write out their reasons, and wait for money, and I have no idea if they ever actually get any. No ultimate dream project. Just a lot of stories of tough times and bad choices. It's like reading the diary entries of minor characters from The Wire. In rare cases, there isn't even a sob story beyond, "Hey, give me money." It's hard to tell how many of the stories intended to tug at the heart strings (and wallets) are true.
I sometimes find myself wishing I had the money to donate to some of the beggars whose stories ring true. Sadly, I'm broke most of the time and couldn't part with a penny. But maybe I can make a post where I ask people to donate money to me so I can turn around and donate to people I deem worthy of my donated money. Shit. I think I just invented a new industry: donating to donors for the cause making the donors feel a sense of worth. The site will be free to use, but you can donate to keep it running. I'm gonna be rich!
Asking for Facebook Likes Is the New Magazine Subscription Cards
Magazines have always had a dual purpose: 1) to inform the reader about whatever topics the editors chose to address that day, week, or month, and 2) to be jack-in-the-boxes that shoot spring-loaded subscription cards at you from the moment they're opened. It's almost like a self-defense mechanism, like magazines are sea creatures that poop out their undesirable innards when a predator tries to pry them open.
This is a thing people make in factories with large machines, yet when people buy one they have to treat it like fresh produce. Before you eat that corn on the cob you're going to need to peel off the husk first. When you buy a new issue of a magazine, you have to pluck the subscription cards out of it first. Magazines must be properly prepared before their information can be consumed.
Since the rise of the Internet and iPads, magazines have made a smooth transition into the digital world, which means no more subscription cards. At least, not ones printed on paper. No, they were just waiting for publishers to find a new way to beg readers to stick around a bit longer. In due time, they came back in a new form:
I don't know what to call them, but they pop up, showcasing a variety of sites. From the questionably legit:
To the totally, 100 percent, without question, shining example of legitness:
Paid subscriptions aren't the currency websites traffic in. It's, well, traffic -- traffic on the site itself and, more importantly, traffic from every other outlet onto which a site extends its tendrils. They want you to like them on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and other such places the website can digitally stalk you as you're busy stalking people on the same sites. They want your email so they can be wherever you are online. Shit, it wouldn't be surprising if one day they asked for your Xbox Live gamertag so random characters in Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto can remind you of new content on a real-world website. It's a common practice that, like the most resilient zombie in the horde, just won't die. When the Internet is powder you can snort and feel on your brain, our amygdalae will be slathered in the slimy resin of requests to follow Brobible on Twitter.
Nervousness When Leaving a Voice Message Is Back With a Vengeance
For this entry, I should just copy and paste this entire New York Times article about the high-pressure, fight-or-flight situation that is leaving a voicemail. In fact, I'm going to start off this entry the same way the Times started their article -- by reminding you about this painful yet perfect scene from Swingers.
Jon Favreau keeps calling up a woman he just met, leaving one disastrously awkward message on her answering machine after another. That's what leaving a message on an answering machine used to be for a lot of people. Shuddering and stammering, long pauses as thoughts that had been carefully gathered and organized exploded in a million directions when it came time to leave the message, a complete loss of understanding about what the hell is even happening anymore -- it was stage fright, and all because it was being recorded on tape. There were no do-overs. You had one shot; if you blew it, you were screwed.
But then something changed when cellphones started taking over. "Answering machine" became "voicemail," and with that came a subconscious freedom. Even if a voicemail service didn't offer the chance to re-record the message, it didn't feel like there was as much pressure as before, probably because your pathetic ramblings weren't occupying a physical space in someone's home anymore.
Once texting became the standard way to leave a message, voicemails started to feel like as much fun as really long, firmly gripped titty twisters. With a text or an email, a person can type and read and re-read and ponder and edit and re-read again and change wording and edit some more and then, finally, send the message out, all on their own time. There's no ticking clock like with a voicemail. No pressure to get it right. Texting allows for breathing room, which makes it amazing that all of us still manage to fuck up every single text so stupendously the person on the receiving end can't be faulted for thinking a dog stepped all over the phone and hit "send."
And so we've come full circle and added a hefty scoop of inexperience with verbal communication. When voicemail eventually dies out, it won't be because we didn't find a use for it anymore. It'll be because we were too scared to use it, so we banished it to the realm of obsolete technology to rest for eternity beside 8-track players and floppy discs.
Luis is trying to figure out which came first: the awkwardness of leaving a message or the awkwardness of leaving a message while knowing the person receiving it doesn't want to sit through a shitty voice message. While he ponders this deep, philosophical question, you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
For more from Luis, check out 5 Ways Your Favorite Holidays Change as You Get Older. And then check out 20 Annoying 'Modern' Trends That Are Older Than You Think.
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