5 Stupid Things We Need To Stop Clicking On
We are living through the final gasps of the Information Age. Experts estimate that 62 percent of all information we now receive is deliberately false, and that includes the percentage and experts I made up at the start of this sentence. The sad truth is, most of you will never have the critical thinking or research skills to know what's real, and that will only make you more sure about the wrong things your stupid ass believes. The good news is that this article isn't about that shit. The fake news fight is over, and stupid won. No, this article is about the dumb things we all keep falling for -- even you, the genius who chose the right political side and religion.
Pointlessly Insane Products Are Not That At All
Last year, Tiffany & Co. started selling the Sterling Silver Tin Can, an empty can that costs $1,000. You'll notice that this is far more than you'd normally pay for soupless garbage. To be clear, this wasn't some tin can that once held Prince's final green beans. It's only a can. As an artistic statement, it was 50 years stale, and as a money-making scheme, it was somewhere between a portable diarrhea box and that same product without a lid. It's the kind of idea that would make the other Saved By The Bell writers say, "Look, if you're not ready to come back to work, take more time off to deal with the death of your son." The point I'm making is that it's hard not to comment on Tiffany's silly can, and that's more appealing to Tiffany & Co. than when we comment on how the people who mined their products all died of slavery.
And it's not only tin cans and Wu-Tang albums that are marketed in intentionally strange ways. Food advertisers have figured out that they can get more attention by being ridiculous than by being delicious. Remember when KFC used fried chicken as sandwich bread in the Double Down? Or when Chick-Fil-A announced that their fried chicken hated gay people with the Cajun Titty Jiggler? We all made fun of them, but they absolutely did not care. These are people turning pigeon meat and "deported" foreign nationals into nugget shapes. They'll take any press they can get.
We need to stop doing this. It's very possible the only conversation any of us had or will ever have about Dr. Pepper came when they released a special version of their soda for men only. We all went on Twitter to say things like, "Forbidding women from tasting Dr. Pepper Ten will only delay the discovery that it's made from semen, not stop it completely." We asked questions like, "Why would you make a soda for men only? Are you trying to find the perfect drink to pair with losing custody of your kids?" Or maybe you simply speculated, "Dr. Pepper Ten sounds like the refreshing treat you reach for when defending an accused rapist you haven't met."
Products should make the customer happy, not be so deliberately dumb that the customer hears about them during a Jimmy Kimmel monologue. You shouldn't make every tenth new Oreo out of cat suppository in the desperate hope that cookie influencers tweet about it. And pizza, you especially need to get your shit together.
In 2012, a Pizza Hut employee happened upon the idea of a hot-dog-stuffed crust, quite by accident, when his manager caught him fucking a pizza and demanded an explanation. This marked the last time there would ever be a non-insane pizza invention. Today, pizza marketing is a series of deranged innovations, like a serial killer's journey toward becoming the Minotaur. For instance, Pizza Hut created "smart" shoes that place an order for you. Aside from getting the elderly to wonder what they're going to come up with next, what the fuck good do pizza shoes do anyone? If you have a use for ordering Pizza Hut via shoe, your foot is going to fall off from diabetes long before you get to do it a second time.
And did you know that Domino's spent millions of dollars promoting something called "carryout insurance?" It's what it sounds like -- a financial guarantee that when your sloppy ass drops a pizza, they give you another one. Aside from getting us to mention how dumb that is, what's the point? Was there a community of fat idiots eating pizza off the ground and demanding their representatives do something? Let's say it's just to set your mind at ease. Let's pretend you're thinking about ordering Domino's, but decide against it because you're always dropping pizza. Will this convince you? Of course not. You're not even here. You were taken in the night by mad scientists, and now you're a lump of brain tissue labelled "HISTORY'S SADDEST FUCK."
All Things "Of The Year" Are Arbitrary Decisions Made By Small Teams Of Random Assholes
We are living in the darkest of times. Our current sexiest man alive looks like a rectangle who makes its living hustling milk-drinking contests.
When People magazine announced hoedown music standout Blake Shelton as the sexiest man alive while Casper Van Dien was still not dead, it hit like a bomb. Every Twitter account and Safeway express lane had a hot take on it. It wasn't merely controversial; it was a direct challenge to what vaginal lubrication even meant. What will it do to society if passably handsome NASCAR dads are the new standard of sexy? Do we need to stop doing sit-ups? Will there be enough denim?
You know what we should have been doing that whole time? Not giving a shit about how handsome Blake Shelton is. Don't get me wrong, Blake Shelton is alright. His condoms probably don't expire, and if he was arrested for sodomizing a dairy cow, you'd think "Him?" But let's not play games. He's not the sexiest man alive. At best, he's "Oklahoma's Hottest Mostly Ham DNA." But we should remember that this isn't some great honor decided by measuring the gonad stimulation of test subjects. "Sexiest Man Alive" is picked by four or five editors desperately trying to hang onto print media jobs, and every now and then one of them is smart enough to say, "What if we trolled everyone?" With all respect to Blake Shelton's fuckability, if you died trying to teach a prosthetic arm how to give a handjob, the People staff would write your name up on the "Sexiest Man Alive MAYBES" board.
It's important to keep in mind how meaningless these titles are before we get outraged. Before Donald Trump, Time gave its 2006 "Person of the Year" title to You, as in the second-person pronoun. And in 1938 they gave it to Hitler, the Donald Trump of 1938. These are meaningless choices meant to inspire terrible conversations between uninteresting people. Did you think LaTonya from Fayetteville was chosen as Jet 's "Beauty of the Week" because of her winning tits and smile? Wake up. It's because her face tattoo says "Abortion is Bae." Please, all of us, we have to stop getting outsmarted by the Jet magazines of the world.
It's Not An Event When Fictional Characters Die
In 1992, DC Comics killed Superman -- an invincible ventriloquist with laser eyes, frost breath, and chronosphere-bending flight speed -- with a rock monster who was pretty good at punching. Despite it being the third time he had died, the country went into mourning and the story was picked up by the actual news. Which was weird, because if the media wanted to cover upsetting Superman stories, where were they when his girlfriend got turned into a pony and fucked his horse?
Why are we so obsessed with fictional deaths? Most of the time, they're not even real in the make-believe universe in which they happen. Captain America and Batman die around 20 times a year, each in different combinations of fake-outs, resurrections, and universe reboots. If a dead guy's best friends own a time machine and the Eye of Agamotto, you can probably hold off on making funeral plans. And if your favorite character dies on The Walking Dead, maybe don't waste an hour watching Chris Hardwick cry until you see the body.
It should help you relax knowing that most fictional deaths are only abusive pranks, but the "real" ones are about as meaningless.
Remember when Han Solo died? He was a 73-year-old laser gun fighter scheduled to get his own movie in three years. His death was both long overdue and completely inconsequential to the amount of Han Solo you will continue to see on your TV. His father-in-law, Darth Vader, was on screen for about 36 minutes before he died in 1983, and since his death, there have been more Anakin Skywalker stories than anyone could ever want. Anakin Skywalker is the Nicolas Cage of outer space. He stopped making good movies three decades ago, yet he's still everywhere and radiating inexplicable cosmic energy.
If George R. R. Martin went on TV to announce that a meteor hit Westeros between books and everyone in A Song Of Ice And Fire is gone, how is that different from the world you're living in now? The guy has clearly wanted to focus more on snacks for about four books. You know what's sadder than seeing Ned Stark get his head chopped off? Watching some fragile-hearted slob go through the stages of grief in a YouTube video afterwards. Parents, if your child is filming themselves weep over a make-believe death, that's a bigger failure than if your child is filming themselves pee into a tube sock for Patreon supporters. I mean, you can do whatever you want, but when you cry over fake people whom you can still see every day for as long as you want, you're only sending a message to the people around you that you're a dramatic piece of shit. But I know something that will cheer you up!
Being Special Is Free
That's right, I said it.
It's pretty easy to sell someone nothing more than the idea that they're special or important for actual money. For example, somewhere right now, a Todd is looking through a rack of keychains to see if they have one with his name on it. "I hope they have a Todd," he might announce as he thumbs through dusty garbage. "They do! And it's spelled right!" So Todd will buy it, a cute reminder of the worst store in the least interesting part of a city he once visited, and it will never occur to him that an Indonesian factory gambled and won that a completely shitty Todd would one day pay money to remind himself of his own name. This next part is way off-topic, but not even the Indonesians could have foreseen that this keychain would one day be used to frame Todd ...
Back to the point I was trying to make: We are all susceptible to this crap. Coke had its first sales increase in more than a decade when it introduced the idea of adding the customers' stupid fucking names to their cans and bottles. And the internet has been haunted by ego-stroking personality quizzes and IQ tests since before we used it to pay girls peeing into tube socks. We are so desperate to be told we're special that we will suspend all disbelief and critical thinking to hear it. You should know that answering a few simple personality questions does not make you the coolest ninja turtle, and you shouldn't trust the scores of an IQ test that you watched yourself cheat on which also advertises free Slavic women and four new pounds of dick girth.
One of my favorite examples of this, and favorite things in general, is an online community called Intertel -- "An International Society of the Intellectually Gifted." It's very difficult to get in. You can only join if you score in the top 1 percent of any self-administered intelligence test and mail in a $10 application fee. You may have considered that this in fact checks to see whether you're stupid enough to mail in a test with a 98 percent score or less and nothing else. If you get accepted, you then pay a $39 annual fee to be a part of a genius club for people who are very specifically not. What do you get? I'm so glad you asked. For the annual fee, you get unlimited pity and the right to post a photo and bio about your unusually gullible self. It has created an avalanche of unearned ego that looks like a late '90s Casper Van Dien fan page whose webmaster went mysteriously missing.
OK, no, but seriously, this next image is a real screenshot from the Inertel (An International Society of the Intellectually Gifted) website. This is a real person who really thinks he's in the 1 percent of intellectual elites, and this is his real profile.
Another business that exploits your love of yourself on a massive, sprawling scale is the pop-up museum industry. The name implies that there are things to do or learn inside them, but they're more like oversized photo booths than art galleries. For instance, if you take a trip to the zany, world-famous Museum of Ice Cream, you will learn zero to one things about ice cream and eat ice cream worth $45 less than the entry ticket. What you will do is wait in line to take photos of yourself next to what you'd describe in any other context as "nothing of interest." So to be clear, we are so self-obsessed that it's now an effective business model to charge us money to take pictures of ourselves so we can promote you online.
Stop Making It Seem Like There Are Nazis
OK, so the world has enough idiot racists to elect Donald Trump president, but not all of those voters were full white supremacists. Some of them were simply too religious to know when someone is lying or too old to change their mind about politics. And yes, a troubling number of them were Nazis. But in a lot of ways, most things are fine and the world isn't as awful as you think.
Impossibly shitty people, like the Trump supporters who took that Garfield mug personally, seem like they're everywhere. A lot of that is our fault -- the decent people making fun of them. They use us to amplify their voices, like Han Solo (R.I.P.) convincing a hallway of Stormtroopers that he's way more people than he actually is. Every few minutes, a website publishes a variation on the article "These Miserable Fucks Said Something Racist About A Thing And Got Annihilated By Twitter." They're fun and vaguely heroic, but if you read more than one, you'll start to see that they all share the same content. It's the same three or four racist tweets quoted in every article, tweeted by the same three or four racists who "attacked" the Star Wars with the Asian girl and "staged boycotts" of the all-lady Ghostbusters. We need to stop treating these three or four people like they're a threat to anything other than skewing PornHub's algorithm to favor mother-son incest.
Here's a reassuring fact: A study of Reddit found that 1 percent of communities were responsible for 74 percent of all conflict. We are taking the intentionally ignorant comments of a Kia's worth of debate club hobbyists and pretending they're a tidal wave of hate we must stand together against. The "alt-right" movement is 30 boys too cranky to date and too slow to learn Dungeons & Dragons. Their supporters are a toxic group of gamers who will disappear once they turn 17, and their media outlet is a cable network whose entire audience will be dead in two more flu seasons. All these people want is for the other side to get upset, so if we stop writing thinkpieces about the rise of dapper white nationalism and focus more on how liberals hate suicide cults, we can be rid of them almost immediately.
Ann Coulter is a good example. She's the skeletal remains of antique intolerance, and she has about as much cultural influence as Corey Feldman's band, Oral Thrush and the Yeast 2000s. Has she ever done anything other than hiss wrong things at impatient TV personalities or pretend that clinical antisemitism is antisemitic comedy? She only seems like she is a thing because 10,000 of us dunk on the bitch every time she blames her oral thrush on the Jews. Without all of us explaining to each other how wrong she is, Coulter would just be wandering through Home Depot to see if there are any white employees she can ask about the toilet safety rails. And soon she would be hatching spider eggs in her mouth while her parakeet watched her body rot. "Rawk! The Jews are at it again!" it would repeat to her undiscovered corpse. "The Jews are at it again!"
We all seem to get how dumb it is when the news says "teens" are doing a comically apeshit thing like human centipede parties or detergent eating. Why can't we use those same giant brains to figure out how one Nazi nerd looking for attention isn't "the Right"? I know it's tough to resist trolls, but Kim Kardashian owning all the world's money should have taught you that there is virtue in shutting the fuck up about some things. We need to stay strong not in the battle against the "alt-right," but in the battle to ignore them. The next time you see another column about how women won't date conservative men, leave it alone. Let those dickless Nazis keep writing versions of that article into the empty void until they learn evil causes women to dry up. And the next time someone on your Facebook thread defends their Second Amendment rights after a school shooting, don't validate their child murder fandom with attention. Move your cursor to the left and click on their mother's profile. Pose as Blake Shelton, win her moist trust, and quietly destroy that child-murderer's family. Every one of us can shut up and make a difference.
Did you realize Casper van Dien was in a Tarzan movie in the 90s?
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