4 Stupid Ways the Government is Embracing the Internet
It's no secret that the citizens find it hard to feel anything beyond phantom intestinal discomfort when "government authority" mixes with "Internet stuff." And if the U.S. government's recent efforts to connect with the populace by expanding its social media presence are any indicator, Americans are about to feel a lot gassier.
Police Departments Have Begun Live-Tweeting Patrols
"Tweet-alongs" are becoming a popular way for police officers around the country to show us what it's like to go out on patrol by sharing unsolicited case-related information with the entire world for absolutely no reason whatsoever. While this is an attractive initiative from a PR standpoint, it is perhaps not the most practical idea, because the police occasionally depend on everyone in the world not knowing exactly what they're doing at any particular moment.
"Was the rock thing in frame? Do you want me to loop back?"
For example, take a look at this string of unmitigated failure from the Sacramento sheriff's department as they attempt to serve a few arrest warrants and are somehow confused why nobody is home:
You would assume the game plan was something along the lines of "don't announce our secret arrest plans to the whole goddamn community." And if tweet-alongs from Seattle, Madison, New Jersey, and Kansas City are any indication, you would be wrong.
"It's almost as if they knew we were coming."
The White House Has Begun Using Memes
Internet memes are the swiftest and most efficient way to kill a joke. They're like the Carlos the Jackal of joke murder. As a form of communication, they're somewhere between cold silence and a fart in a crowded elevator -- their two-week shelf life and the cannibalistic, incestuous nature of meme humor guarantee that you'd be better off learning Navajo. By no means should memes be used as a medium to engage people in a serious discussion. The White House recently thumbed its nose at that advice to talk about immigration laws using a picture of some stupid baby:
"What about 'Today Was a Good Day' instead?"
"Come on, we don't want to trivialize this."
That's from the White House's official Twitter account, which they used to post a picture of the "success kid" meme in order to celebrate passing immigration reform. We get that the White House is trying to be hip. For example, President Obama recently participated in an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit in which he demonstrated an awareness of his own memes. But no one wants to see a future wherein the government laments an unsuccessful peace summit by posting a picture of Socially Awkward Penguin.
The TSA Is Instagramming Things They Confiscate
Recently, the men and women of the TSA decided to start Instagramming various deadly items they've confiscated. However, rather than simply documenting the contraband, they're running everything through a sepia filter like a bunch of 11th grade art students.
Because making everything look like The Grapes of Wrath is a surefire way to make boring things seem interesting.
If the TSA wants to demonstrate what an invaluable service they provide, perhaps they shouldn't be showcasing how much free time they have to Photoshop pictures of potentially devastating carry-on items after carefully arranging them on top of incident reports that haven't even been filled out yet.
Even Terrence Malick would call this pretentious.
The State Department Has Been Buying Facebook Likes
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs recently purchased over 2 million Facebook "likes" for the princely sum of $630,000, because why be legitimately popular when you can buy social currency for half a million dollars? That's like filling up your friends list with a bunch of fake accounts for nonexistent people and using them to leave encouraging messages on your wall.
Apparently the State Department's goal for dealing in counterfeit Internet approval was to reach "older" and "more influential" people, a disturbing revelation, considering that we'd assume a top-level government organization would have a better line to the world's most influential people than a social media service originally designed for college-age stalkers. At any rate, their baffling master plan failed catastrophically, because only about 2 percent of their followers actually shared or commented on any of their posts.
So about the same ratio as people that don't pay for followers.
To put all of this in perspective, with the amount of money the State Department spent on Facebook likes, they could've bought every single one of their civil service employees a Fonzie jacket and still had cash to spare. And that would've been a much more successful government outreach campaign, because if people then assumed that the Fonz was monitoring their cellphone conversations, everyone would've been delighted.
"I'm proud to serve the NS-AAYYYY."