5 Things That Should Get You Banned from the Internet
The Internet hates you. But to be fair, the Internet hates everybody. It is a worldwide network of assholes connected by their mutual dislike for one another. And also some fiber optics. But every once in a while, the Internet gets it right and at least some of that hyperbolic vitriol is deserved. Nobody's saying you should kill yourself if you do any of the below (well, yes, actually they are -- but don't worry about it. "Kill yourself" is how the Internet says "Maybe you should work on this"), but perhaps you should reconsider before ...
Correcting Somebody's Spelling/Grammar in a Facebook Status
I know you. I know you're a wellspring of good intentions. You're a veritable saint. What you do, you do for the good of all humanity -- nay, all of civilization. You're not correcting somebody's apostrophe placement in their status update because you're a hopeless pedant and extremely insecure about the size of your intellectual dick. No, you're trying to preserve the sanctity of the written language in somebody's Facebook post so that, in far-flung eons when the aliens come to Earth and find it a lifeless husk, they will know and understand that the shitty vacuum belongs to Gary, and there was not a race of Garys who vacuumed shittily.
And you know what? I'm only partially joking. Catching grammatical errors and offering corrections is a necessary and underappreciated task ... when you're reading a book, a master's thesis, or a comedy article somebody wrote while drunk at an Applebee's.
But the problem isn't the action; it's the audience. If you're a Facebook corrector, then I hate to break this to you, but not one person in history has taken your *their* reply as anything but a passive-aggressive insult. The victims of your rampant grammar sprees don't find themselves about to type "Garys vacuum so shitty it cant even suck at street fighter" and then, recalling your past corrections, suddenly backspace to fix the error while giving a giant Mentos-style wink and thumbs-up to a nonexistent camera.
So if they're not going to learn a lesson from it, and you -- like all trolls -- insist that you're not trolling, then what's the point of correcting them? It's best to just learn to ignore these infuriating errors, and let all of human language slowly devolve into anarchic ignorance and pictographs. Because that's what is going to happen.
I'm sorry, it turns out you were the last gatekeeper of literacy, after all. Who could have known? Ah well, back to dirt drawings and marking ownership with urine.
Retweeting Somebody's Entire Account
There's nothing wrong with retweeting something that you find humorous or interesting. It's actually pretty great. You should give it a shot right now -- you might be surprised to find that a single retweet raises your IQ by a factor of 600 and gives you the power of unassisted human flight.
Retweeting is fine. That's the entire point of the platform, after all. But it is not the point to retweet literally everything your favorite celebrity plugs into their iPhone. By all means RT George Takei's scathing reviews of the outfits of evangelical hate criminals -- that's some viral shit right there. By all means retweet the latest jewel from '80s Don Draper. That's good shit, too. But you get, let's say, three. Three retweets from a single account on any given day. If your followers aren't impressed enough to follow that account for themselves after three RTs, the ensuing 27 probably won't convince them.
That means you have a choice to make: Are you going to retweet that killer joke Shelby Fero made about how cats are like boyfriends, or the picture of what her butt would look like if it was in One Direction? You can't do both! Life is made up of tough choices. Left or right, Coke or Pepsi, Jim Beam or straight ethanol -- it's time to bring some of that decisiveness to your Twitter feed. Because if somebody wanted to read every single word a B-list celebrity typed while pooping, they would be following Tom Arnold already.
Syncing Everything With Everything
Every time you link your Facebook profile to something -- another social media account, your car's onboard computer, the quarter machine at the local jerk booth -- Mark Zuckerberg gets a new sparkle on his diamond-encrusted personal battlemech. I know that increased interconnectivity wouldn't be a thing if people didn't use and appreciate it. But at some point you have to wonder -- after linking your Spotify account so your friends can see every cover of "Sweet Caroline" you've ever listened to; connecting your Goodreads account so nobody will have to wonder what monster you're reading paranormal porn about today; and signing in to your Yelp account so that no sandwich will go tragically undocumented for future generations -- if perhaps you're sharing too much. You have Facebook friends in the first place because people want to stay in touch with you, sure, but maybe they don't want to be constantly touching you.
Every time you link unrelated accounts to report some banal aspect of your life back to the Internet, we get one step closer to an Orwellian dystopia. We were all so worried that Big Brother would be secretly slipping cameras into our bathrooms that we never stopped and considered that maybe we shouldn't sync our new SoCompatible ShowerCam with our Instagram account. Nobody cares what your score in the latest iPhone game is; nobody is genuinely wondering how many times you've masturbated to that porn video; and if somebody wants to see what you thought about every business you've ever been to, they were probably already stalking you and all you're doing is taking the challenge out of it.
Getting Mad at Strangers for Not Interacting With You
With social media, nobody is unreachable. If you want to follow your favorite author, TV star, or guest judge of a celebrity fat competition, now you can! And bonus: You can even interact with them to some extent. Sure, we all know it's unlikely that Neil Gaiman will respond to our erotic haikus about his hair, but hey -- maybe he read one. Maybe those words are seared into his brain forever now, even if he is too modest to respond with his exact location and the keycode to his alarm system.
That's how most people think of celebrity interaction in the social age. But not all: Some people send a tweet to Barack Obama and then, two minutes later, send a scathing follow-up damning him for losing touch with the little guy because they don't understand that the president of the United States might have better things to do than tell @ponyphalluses69 which My Little Pony he'd be, if he had to choose only one.
"I would, of course, be Rainbow Dash. I, like this great country, have always prided myself on my spunkiness."
This strange, impossible standard doesn't just apply to celebrities, either. Now virtually any public figure, no matter how insignificant, owes a complete, thoughtful, and in-depth response to every fart noise that a random Internet denizen bothers to transcribe. I get messages through this site once in a while. Not as often as you'd think, but probably more often than I deserve. I always try to respond, especially if it's nice. Most times there's not much to say beyond "Thanks, homey! Glad you enjoyed it." A few months ago, I received one such compliment, typed up my brief response, and sent it out. In reply, I got a several-paragraph-long seething manifesto of hatred decrying my perfunctory gesture -- lamenting how horribly I'd neglected their precious words, how arrogant I was to assume that I didn't owe detailed correspondence to total strangers apropos of nothing. This random person, who had written me two sentences about how they liked something I wrote, was absolutely furious that I did not, in return, pen a Homeric epic about my dramatic journey to gently cup their balls in thanks for the faint praise they doled out. It's the most extreme example I can think of, but certainly not the only one.
And I'm fucking nobody! I'm an Internet comedian who, in the alphabetical ranking of fame, would rate somewhere among the Ankh-list celebrities. I shudder to think of Nathan Fillion's @ responses -- there must be more unnoticed, neglected fury in there than in the aftermath of a Baltimore American Idol audition.
(Baltimore never brings their A-game.)
Telling Friends You've Seen It Before
This is me. This is my sin. This is my burden to bear.
I am a professional Internet. It's my job to spend most of my days out here in cyberspace, mining the asteroids of content for precious nuggets of information to deep fry in the oil of ... I ... I've lost this metaphor. Stupid Internet has ruined my attention span.
I'm trying to say that, by the very nature of my job, I've seen pretty much everything. I see the BuzzFeeds. I bear witness to the Reddits. I have StumbledUpon greatness, and lo, I was jaded back when Digg was something other than a cautionary tale about mankind's hubris. I'm like a wildly inaccurate living encyclopedia of Stuff That Doesn't Matter. If you want to talk to me about a news story, a scientific study, a pop culture theory, a crazy picture, or a particularly funny cat -- don't bother. I dimly recall everything the Internet has ever done, nostalgic and hazy like a childhood memory.
"Yes, yes I recall the great Gonad Strife of 'aught one ..."
And nobody likes me. It's not just my objectively terrible smell and constant, poorly executed thievery, either. If you've seen everything on the Internet before, nobody likes you, either.
The entire reason we have the share function of social networking is because people love the thrill of discovery. They want to be the ones to introduce new content to others, even if they had nothing to do with its creation. By finding it, we feel we had some part in making it. It's a strange misfire in the human brain, but it's there nonetheless. If your grandma sidles up to you one Thanksgiving, joy twinkling in her eyes, and offers to show you "this funny videogram found on the interconnected nets" -- don't roll your eyes and tell her that even T. rex was sick of Numa Numa back when he first walked the Earth. Just smile, nod, and feign surprise.
Then, when her back is turned, you can pull out your phone and viciously mock her to all your friends on that cool new social network she won't hear of for at least three years.
That's how you do the Internet.