I started on Instagram on a Throwback Thursday, figuring that it’d be harder to dislike photos of people as kids. As I marched down the feed, tapping the heart beside every photo, an elated, almost zippy feeling overcame me. All of these people would soon learn that I approved of them and would be forced to think about me. It felt powerful, like I was branding myself onto their minds. Then I came across hunnypot7’s picture. It was her usual softly-lit, pouty self-portrait. “Throwback to ‘09,” it said. It was a selfie masquerading as a Throwback Thursday. “That doesn’t count!” I said aloud. I didn’t want to like it. Moreover, I wanted to ask all 46 people who liked it how they could like it. But I liked it, and kept goose-stepping down the feed.
All social media is a platform for boasting, but the things they get up to over on Facebook would make even the most narcissistic sailor blush. I raised my virtual thumb to every humblebrag, political harangue, and comedy bit, feeling a giddy, albeit queasy rush, until I came across a status that gave me pause. A Facebook friend was using the opportunity of a recent tragedy to drop a celebrity’s name, and people were furiously liking it. I can’t like this sort of thing. I rationalized that I could like it purely for its ingenuity. There were so many likes, mine would just blend in, right? I liked it with my eyes closed and moved along, liking things that made no sense to like. Someone needed help moving, and I, along with thirteen other people, liked it. Someone else reposted something about a missing cat. I declined to like it. (There’s a clause in my liking contract for missing pet posts.) But seven other people did. Did they like that the cat was missing? Or do they just like cats?
In the picture she looked quite stoked with her choice. I laughed again. She was indeed ready for some romance. I have no idea about their future, obviously. It could be a travel romance that doesn’t last much past her return home, or it could be a beautiful love story’s first chapter, all I know is it looked like a very special moment. Part of me wanted to tell her I was stoked for her. And part of me wanted to fling my phone into the waves and cuss about how the guy looked like a boring pretty boy. And I wish I were the guy who could be supremely cool with it all. I’m not there yet. I’m the guy who works hard to overcome pride, stubbornness, and arrogance. This time I didn’t make it. I couldn’t. I couldn’t “like” the picture. That just felt masochistic.
The moment melted away. I slid my thumb to pull up other pictures. Wouldn’t you know it- she also posted a picture of her at the beach, posed on a rock like the famous Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. Damnit! She totally knows how much I love the ocean and mermaids. I’d be a liar if I didn’t “like” that picture. My silence would send a message. It was like a friendship test. I wondered how anyone can be emotionally honest in our modern social nets. I laughed at my fate as I hit “like” on the picture of her posing like the Little Mermaid.
These moments of digital deliberation are now part of how we externalize our emotions. What were once messages secreted back and forth by carrier pigeons, letters conveyed in the saddlebags of the pony express, cables from the telegraph, and eventually long distance phone calls, text messages, emails, it’s all been boiled down to a “like” button. You can send a rather detailed message to someone you care about with just a social media “like.”
I saw this cliché tumblr photo post with like clouds or whatever and it had text over it that read “why is our generation so sad?”
and like it’s funny because the answer is right there in the photo that has thousands of notes: our generation (at least a lot of our generation that is on tumblr) uses the internet as a vehicle for getting attention, and when you are sad you get attention and so everyone wallows in that sadness, reblogs depressing things, hyperbolizes depression, falsely self-diagnose themselves with emotional and mental disorders that don’t exist but that then are born out of nothing simply because people convince themselves they are there…and the internet gives a kind of glamor or glory to being sad, because it suggests a depth and human complexity that we assume cannot be present in people who are happy. This isn’t true, or course, but essentially, being sad is “in” especially on a site like tumblr where depressing things are popular and allow one to gain attention and a fallacious sense of care from others. Now I’m not talking about people who are actually depressed and who actually use their blogs as an outlet. I do that myself too. But I realized about a year ago that a lot of the times when I would go on tumblr, the only reason I was sad was because half of the posts on my dashboard were sad. Even something as simple as “humorous” posts like “I look like shit all the time :)” are inherently sad and depressive and people need to realize that (as the #1 rule in behavioral psych) behavior affects attitude, NOT vise versa. If you put yourself down repeatedly, insult yourself and your body and continuously wallow in sadness without trying to feel better about it, then you WILL be sad because it is the behavior itself that induces the mood. If you try to act happier, if you stop repeating the negative things you are used to saying, even if it is something as seemingly trivial and negligible as “I look like shit today”, if you really try to stop yourself from saying things like that, from constantly bombarding yourself with things that are sad, you will ultimately change your attitude as well. Again I’m not talking about people who are actually depressed and use tumblr as an outlet, I’m talking about the thousands of people who are actually mentally and emotionally stable and could reach happiness if they stop forcing depression on themselves when it is not there. (Though the behavior-affects-attitude ideology also works for those who suffer from depression, so remember that if you try to act happier, if you smile more, laugh more, you can feel better after a while). I myself was severely depressed over a year ago until I realized that most of it was coming from the fact that I was not trying to force myself out of the sorrow because it was a comfortable feeling. That’s the key. You have to recognize that you and only you have the power to change how you feel. And that makes you really powerful indeed
Self reblogging to add a thing I found:
The account @Anti_Racism_Dog didn’t last long. Twitter suspended it quickly, a fate reserved only for the most aggressive, abusive and hateful users. What could a dog – an anti-racist one, at that – do to deserve it? @Anti_Racism_Dog had one real function: to bark at racist speech on Twitter. The account responded to tweets it deemed racist with the simple response ‘bark bark bark!’ Sometimes it would send wags to supporters but that was pretty much it.
For the short time it lasted, it was amazing to watch how people reacted to @Anti_Racism_Dog. The account would respond mostly to what the sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva would call ‘colour-blind racism’, that is, racisms that are generally right-libertarian in orientation and justified through appeals to supposedly objective discourses like science and statistics. It’s a notoriously insidious white-supremacist ideology, a virulent strain evolved specifically to resist anti-racist language. Colour-blind racism defends itself by appeals to neutrality and meritocracy, accusing its adversaries of being ‘the real racists’. Although its moves are predictable, they’re hard to combat rhetorically since they’re able to ingest the conventional opposition scripts. Colour-blind racists feed on good-faith debate, and engaging with them, especially online, is almost always futile. But when they’re barked at by a dog, one whose only quality is anti-racism, they flip the fuck out. They demand to be engaged in debate (‘Tell me how what I said was racist!’) or appeal to objective definitions (‘The dictionary says racist means X, therefore nothing I said was racist’), but @Anti_Racism_Dog just barks.
@Anti_Racism_Dog inverted the usual balance of energy in online dialogs about race. Precisely because the dominant global discourse is white-supremacist, it is rhetorically easier to make a racist argument than an anti-racist one. Look at almost any comment thread or discussion board about race and you can see anti-racists working laboriously to be convincing and to play on their opponents’ ‘logical’ turf, and racists repeating the same simple lines they were taught (‘I didn’t own slaves’, ‘I’m just stating the facts’, ‘The Irish were persecuted too’, etc.) ‘Trolling’ as a certain kind of internet harassment is tied to time: the successful troll expends much less time and energy on the interaction than their targets do. It’s the most micro of micro-politics, an interpersonal tug of war for the only thing that matters. But have you ever played tug of war with a dog?
A true troll doesn’t have a position to protect because to establish one would leave it vulnerable to attack, and playing defence takes time. @Anti_Racism_Dog, by fully assuming the persona of an animal, was invulnerable to counter-attack. You can’t explain yourself to a dog and you look like an idiot trying. The only way to win is not to play but this is the colour-blind racist’s Achilles Heel: they’re compelled to defend themselves against accusations of racism. It’s the anti-racist argument that gives them content; theirs is an ideology that’s in large part a list of counter-arguments. After all, white-supremacists are already winning – their task now is to keep the same racist structures in place while making plausibly colour-blind arguments against dismantling them. @Anti_Racism_Dog was empty of anything other than accusation and so left its targets sputtering.
The account served a second purpose: as a sort of anti-racist hunting dog. @Anti_Racism_Dog quickly attracted a lot of like-minded followers who understood the dynamics at play. Whenever it would start barking at another user, this was a cue to the dog’s followers to troll the offender as well. There’s only so much one dog can do alone. Colour-blind racism is particularly dangerous because it isn’t immediately visible as such. It provokes good-faith discussion from liberals about what counts as racism, muddying the water. But @Anti_Racism_Dog’s strategy draws new lines about what constitutes acceptable discourse on race, placing colour-blind racists on the other side by speaking to them like an animal. What would be taken as totally insane in flesh space can be infuriatingly clever online.
THIS ARTICLE HAS TEETH
I WANT ANTI RACISM DOG BACK
fuck twitter Im going to go delete mine
useless piece of shit it is
Oh, my god. This is brilliant.
So if your phone doesn’t move from a single location between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for say a week or so, Facebook can quickly deduce the location of your home. Facebook will be able to pinpoint on a map where your home is, whether you share your personal address with the site or not. It can start to build a bigger and better profile of you on its servers. It can start to correlate all of your relationships, all of the places you shop, all of the restaurants you dine in and other such data. The data from accelerometer inside your phone could tell it if you are walking, running or driving. As Zuckerberg said — unlike the iPhone and iOS, Android allows Facebook to do whatever it wants on the platform, and that means accessing the hardware as well.
This future is going to happen – and it is too late to debate. However, the problem is that Facebook is going to use all this data — not to improve our lives — but to target better marketing and advertising messages at us. Zuckerberg made no bones about the fact that Facebook will be pushing ads on Home.
And it’s Facebook who is walking up and down the halls of this prison, keys jangling from their belt, a swing in their step, whistling a happy tune. Facebook guards a prison which contains inmates that don’t even know they’ve been incarcerated. Inmates that want to be there. A voluntarily lock-up.