Social media, cell phones and modern technology are destroying our social lives, making us so very lonely and – ironically enough for a “jacked in” generation – disconnected.
That’s the line you’re going to keep hearing from a very special kind of pretentious person who likes to lecture you about how they’re not one of those stupid sheeple who stare at their glowing screens like slack-jawed consumerist robots, sacrificing their precious and limited lives on the altar of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. While this message can be shared via any medium – from obnoxious status updates about how they’re “going off the grid” to vaguely-scientific claims about how social media impacts peer-group interaction – it’s at its worst when it comes in the form of a preachy, irony-blind viral video that couldn’t have conceivably succeeded without a swarm of uncritical social media users to share it for them.
Here’s a complete compendium of these and how much they suck, as well as how many views and YouTube “likes” they’ve racked up in the meantime.
Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?
Worst quotes: “Kind of ironic, ain’t it? / How these touchscreens can make us lose touch / But it’s no wonder in a world filled with IMac’s, iPads and iPhones / So many “I”’s, so many selfies, not enough us’ and we’s … and if I want to post an old photo, who says I gotta wait until Thursday? [#TBT hashtag appears on screen]”
Why it sucks: That’s not how #TBT works, but I bet Prince Ea is also the kind of person who likes to grumble about the oppression of Mondays.
Kudos for adapting Betteridge’s Law of Headlines (if it’s a question, the answer is no and you are a lazy writer) to the spoken word genre. Take your own advice and focus on yourself, preferentially away from any digital video cameras, Wi-Fi hotspots, cheese plates or decorative mason jars.
(P.S., when Godvine says your video has a “POWERFUL message,” you might want to double down on that introspection.)
Worst quotes: “I have 422 friends, yet I am lonely. I speak to all of them every day, yet none of them really know me … this media called social is everything but … A world where we’re slaves to the technology we mastered, where information gets sold by some rich greedy bastard. A world world of self-interest, self-image, self-promotion, where we all post our best bits but leave out the emotion.”
Why it sucks: I might not be sophisticated enough to understand the literary weight of someone who describes themselves on Twitter as a “Performer of Words,” but hey, that’s in the guy’s Twitter bio where he proudly lists “Look Up” as his number one social media accomplishment. From lecturing us on how we’re a “generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people” to bemoaning how it “no longer satisfies to engage with one another, and look into someone’s eyes” (has this guy ever heard of Tinder?) to doing it all while wearing a tight-fitting sweater, this is pretty much Stuff White People Like dipped in some Dad Wisdom and unleashed upon all of our social media feeds. With nearly 50 million views, Look Up will be a lasting inspiration to generations of self-admiring hipsters who think music died with the gramophone, not its trendy cousin vinyl.
I Forgot My Cell Phone
Worst Quotes: None, because this is thematic and doesn’t need to rely upon things like dialogue.
Why it sucks: Hey, dipshit. If your friends are all awkwardly staring at their cell phones whenever you’re around, it might be because they don’t like you. So by all means, go run around in the forest without a cell phone and blog about it. They’re not missing anything.
Connected, But Alone
Worst quotes: “An 18-year-old boywho uses texting for almost everythingsays to me wistfully, ‘Someday, someday,but certainly not now,I’d like to learn how to have a conversation’ … When I ask people ‘What’s wrong with having a conversation?’People say, ‘I’ll tell you what’s wrong with having a conversation.It takes place in real timeand you can’t control what you’re going to say.'”
Why it sucks: No actual 18-year-old boy has ever expressed this opinion, but I’m guessing plenty of strawmen have! They don’t have time for all that precious real social interaction, because they’re made of goddamn straw and lack not only the ability to appropriately limit their online time but the very self-awareness that would allow them to condescendingly interact with others in real time in the first place.
TED Talks are often “middlebrow megachurch infotainment,” but Sherry Turk’s one here is an elaborate exercise in nostalgic wailing about the shallowness of the digital self and patting oneself on the back for it. Cyborgology’s David Banks writes that Alone Together author Turk’s whole shtick that the internet has created a “separation of physical and virtual selves and the privileging of one over the other is not only theoretically contradictory, but also empirically unsubstantiated.” Unless you accept that “there is something in the technology that enables/causes antisocial behavior and we must overcome this false consciousness by actively refusing to use our devices,” Banks argues, then you have to adopt the “augmented reality” perspective which views our behavior online as extensions of our offline identities. I’ll leave it to you which opinion is smart and which one is dumb, but if you decide to go with the first one then please stop tweeting viral videos about it.
The Innovation of Loneliness
Worst quotes: “As a social fabric in the western world weakens, it is not surprising that more and more people define themselves as lonely. And thus, loneliness has become the most common aliment of the modern world … One of the possible reasons for this aliment is the online social network. In a world where time is money, in which our surroundings heavily pressure us to achieve more and more, our social life becomes tainted and more demanding than ever before … Instead of building true friendships, we’re obsessed with endless personal promotion, investing hours on then building our profile, pursuing the optimal order of words in our next message, choosing the pictures in which we look our best.”
Why it sucks: This is little more than an amalgamation of psuedoscientific Biotruths, or amateur extensions of real scientific knowledge to complex domains of human behavior. Normally this kind of stuff is used in the service of fringe movements like the paleo diet or men’s rights activism, but the key denominator shared by most Biotruths is not only buying into the naturalistic fallacy but using it as an excuse to lecture others about how modern life is a sham.
In reality, the debate over social media in psychology is quite rich and evidence exists that it provides a number of social benefits to users. If you view social media as nothing but a vehicle for self-promotion, you’re rich, an asshole or a web writer. If you think that the “social fabric” of the western world is weakening because of Twitter, you might also be an idiot.
Disconnect to Connect
Worst quotes: Again, none, because this is all about genuine experience. “Who will you spend your hour with?”, however, serves as an appropriately detestable tagline.
Why it sucks: I agree with the creators that it’s rude as shit to text continually on a date, as poltergeists hold business meetings, as basketballs fly perilously past your head or while a young girl under your supervision disappears entirely at the park. (TWEET THE POLICE.) But to be fair, the assholes of the world previously had to do all these things on a beeper.
What It’s Like Having FOMO
Worst quotes: The screen that says, “FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO FOMO” (that’s an exact count, by the way) while the protagonist scowls at a smartphone.
Why it sucks: If you were too tired to hang out, don’t complain when all your friends are having fun without you. TAKE A NAP. Jesus.
For the record, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) originated not as an actual psychological theory, but as an in-joke among Harvard MBA candidates in 2004. Despite not actually being used by many real psychologists, FOMO has spawned similarly vague concepts like “MOMO,” the “mystery of missing out” when your social media feeds fall silent. I’m with GQ’s Will Welch, who argues that “#FOMO is really just another word for insecurity,” which of course is “as old as typhoid, birthday parties, and fermented beverages” – or Cyborgology’s Nathan Jurgenson, who points out that “missing out” is essential to online networking because “what we do offline is the fuel that runs the engine of social media.”
The autumn idea that magically turns off cell phones and computers
Worst quotes: “Isn’t it time we focused on the connections that matter most?”
Why it sucks: This is sponsored by Foresters, an international financial services provider. If you take your life lessons from life insurance commercials, then social media isn’t your problem.
P.S. it maybe is not the best idea to lament how social media is destroying family life in the same ad that a father uploads a touching photo of his late father to Facebook, immediately incurring likes and comments fondly remembering a lost relative.
Most Inspirational Speech *How Social Networking is Taking Over Our Lives*
Comments and Likes disabled (I wonder why)
Worst quotes: “I mean, how many of those faces do you know personally on your friends list? I would guess not too many. For Facebook to be a means for us to communicate through typed words and pictures, only keeps us more controlled by the powers that be – the industries. Texting is not a way to show love. Instead, sitting at a table laughing and expressing your desires is.”
“Let’s take the Romans for example. They didn’t have an ‘iPod’ or a ‘Twitter’ to broadcast their territorial conquests towards Carthage, or battle the Goths with great advanced electronic technology. Or let’s use the 1920s, our grandparents for example. They ran stores, they fought in a few wars, not the Iraq War – I’m talking world war! They also survived a little thing called the Great Depression! … [they] had to stand in freezing cold conditions on food lines just to get their next meal. Ask them if they had Twitter.”
Why it sucks: CITATIONS NEEDED, YOU GET AN F. Nowadays I guess we’re all just living a digital lie, instead of the exhilarating lived experience of two world wars that killed 100 million people, the biggest economic collapse in world history or being stabbed by some Italian proto-fascist in bronze armor and a toga.
Pro-tip: Philosophy that has Hans Zimmer’s track “Time” playing as background music is not real philosophy.
Marc Maron: The Social Media Generation Animated
Worst Quotes: “We’re adults, right? But emotionally we’re a culture of seven-year-olds. Have you ever had that moment when you’re updating your status and you realize that every status update is just a variation on a single request: would someone please acknowledge me?”
Why it sucks:Social media addiction is not like heroin addiction. Thanks to your video, somewhere between 2,646 and 168,387 people think it is.
Get Off the Phone Song
Worst quotes: None, this thing is amazing. I just wanted to include it.
Why it sucks: As far as I can tell, creators Rhett & Link do not have their own HBO show.
If everyone who was listed as having viewed these videos (excluding the last) watched them in their entirety, then our total comes to 21,242,362,892 seconds / 354,039,381 minutes / 5,900,656 hours / 245,860 days. Assuming an average lifespan of 28,835 days, that means stupid “disconnect” videos have wasted the equivalent of approximately eight and a half entire human lifetimes. Just whose preciouus sand is slipping through the hourglass again?
I’ll leave you with this excellent post from a FacePunch commenter on “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?”: