Just think: we were the last generation, throughout the course of human history and, presumably, all that is still to come, to be born into a world free of the pervasive, omnipotent rule of the Internet.
We were born to the wailing death throes of a land that existed before the mass inculcation of total and irrevocable communication. Chain mail was an actual thing. ‘Spoiler’ was a term firmly under the hegemonic command of boy racers. The only people your age you really knew went to the same school as you, and, in worldwide webby hindsight, were all strangely tribal about it. If you went on a date you quite literally had to wait all day for a completely unplanned, unannounced and unpredictable call to your house phone. What if you missed it? What if you had no ‘answering machine’ (it took me three days to remember that name)? I guess you would have to take the lack of a ringing rotary-dial as a tacit indication that your shagging the night prior was pure shite. Can you imagine?!
Anyway, I digress. We were the first, the very, very first, to get our clumsy, wanky hands all over big, big communication and, verily, it has not been the same since. Blah blah, lots of good things have happened. Exposure to other cultures on an unprecedented and unequivocally global scale, the proliferation and dissemination of information, and the creation of a tool of infinite magnitude that can catalyse considerable social upheaval, even revolution. But who cares about that, right!? Let’s talk, part-humbly, part-scathingly (mainly scathingly), about how we took something majestic and limitless and used it to expose how silly and insufferable we all are.
So, in no particular order (apart from the strict order that this is actually in), here are five things we currently do online that we MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY. Things that truly warrant a shoot-on-sight order. You know, if anybody actually saw anyone in real life anymore.
Hashtags are embarrassing and terrible. They just are. Simply god-awful. And a prime example of a potentially wonderful thing we have sensationally shat on. Humans! Please! What initiated as quite an innovative and ingenious function – a tool for crowdsourcing information relating to a common topic, allowing for immediate access to manifold micro-commentaries on said connection – has now been sodomised to the point of irreparable prolapse. Everybody has surely seen a generic tweet along the lines of ‘#lads night out #can’t #wait #for drinks! Young #blood’. What. What are you saying. Is this some kind of CIA code? The ramblings of a deranged computer algorithm? Lads can’t wait for blood??? It’s even worse on Instagram (please, the world needs more photos of cocktails and cats). One selfie of an unremarkable ‘teenager’ (read: twentysomethings) can generate: ‘#me #myself #girl #girly #sexy #hairlove #hair #love #loveheart #girlsheart #girlswhosmile #girlswhocry #girlswhokill #ihavejustkilled #iwillkillagain #somebodystopme #somebodyanybodypleasestoppleasepleasestopme #nofilter’. I rest my case.
2) AMATEUR COMMENTARY ON MAJOR EVENTS
When I close my eyes at night, all I can see are three words. Three fearful, ancient, eldritch words burning in the darkness of oblivion: ‘ROYAL BABY BORN!!!’
3) SASSY FEMALE COVER PHOTOS
You get a lot of people pre-emptively slaughtering their children in the dead of night to spare them the supposed social corrosiveness that is Facebook. I actually quite like it (quelle horreur!). I’m lazy as fuck and I have everyone I like (and hate) on it. It’s really easy. I like looking at my friends’ photos. I like looking at my own even more. For hours. Whatever your standpoint, Facebook is a unifying community platform and a revelation for people who eagerly awaited the next big thing to happen to the address book (these people are horribly unhappy). We now have myriad forms of Facebook self-expression (the clue is in the word ‘self’), latest of which is the photo de cover. I realise this may be one that throws the chainsaw among the primary school children, but gays, gays of Facebook, I implore you: stop it with the cover photos. Clueless. Mean Girls. Lindsay Lohan’s mugshots. Beyoncé. Clueless. The Most Popular Girls in School. NOMI MALONE. Lana Del Gaga. Clueless. Charlize Theron looking passably rough but empowered. Anyone with a vagina that was big in the ‘90s. Just put one of yourself up! Who cares how self-indulgent it is, it’s better to look like an unhinged narcissist than a drone, a drone whose cover photo is trying to say ‘I really relate to how little of a fuck Ciara gives’. It’s one of those things where you think it’s a lot funnier than it actually is (like this article). If you want sass, put a photo of the Black Dahlia’s cheerful remains up. That’s funny! Also, nobody cares about Ciara.
4) SELFIES OF COUPLES
You may be getting a feel for the type of person I am from this article. An optimistic, well-adjusted and open-minded member of society. Ha. But this one is universal, free of the trappings of my generic brand of bitterness. Yes, we can capture the world and its endless forms most beautiful in the palm of our hands, but, with the advent of the front-facing camera, the world can go fuck itself. However, I am quite positive that nobody wants to see this – the couple selfie. I can’t fathom it. Couples who upload photos of themselves must lack empathy. Not in the sense that they are rubbing in their supposed happiness, but in the sense that they cannot relate to other humans on any discernible level. I have devised a simple test for those of you in relationships who feel compelled to upload a photo of you and your other half:
1 – Do you experience any kind of joy or satisfaction from seeing a selfie of another couple?
That’s it. That’s the test. If the answer is no, which I am betting my savings (all 30p) on that it always, always is – DON’T DO IT. If you spend so much time with your partner that there is literally nobody else around to take a photo of you both, do not interpret it as a call to arms or assume that there is a gap in the market, a void that must be filled. ‘But my public demand it!’ they don’t. They very, very don’t. That’s the point.
5) SCREENGRABS OF RAMPANT BANALITY
It’s delightful that our phones can wake us, can help structure our day and warn us of any imminent meteorological disasters. Apparently, therefore, we must share such marvels with absolutely everyone. ‘We’re in for a scorcher today guys!’, ‘Omg so sunny so happy’. The curse of Brits online is that we develop this insatiable urge to become trainee weathergals every time the sun makes a cameo appearance. It can’t be for the benefit of people who have sight, for we have sight to see it’s sunny. And it can’t be for the benefit of the blind, as, well, they won’t be seeing your hopeless screengrab at all, will they? Similarly: shots of alarms set for 5.45, 5.50, 5.52 and nebulously 12.39 (what madness is this…?). Nobody has ever, will ever or currently does care about when you get up. I’d much rather see someone post a screengrab of an alarm set for 17.01, subtitled ‘mother never loved me’ and followed by a vague comment about how they’ve obliterated their circadian rhythms and had nothing much else left to live for. That’d grab me, man.
So there you have it, the unending splendour of our curious use of the world’s most powerful tool. Soon Google Glass will descend from the heavens and, instead of using it to record and provide others’ with an immersive insight into what it is like to be us, POV porn will boom. POV porn that we’ll all have to opt-in on, naturally. Jesu Christe.