Social networks are beautiful things, putting us in touch with our friends, people that used to be our friends, and total strangers who want to be our friend because we have the same name as somebody they knew in high school. But, unfortunately, they also invite, or rather practically demand to be, abused. Here are five inevitable ways your social network will be ruined:
#1) Trying to write a novel with it
Human beings are storytellers. It’s just our nature. Give us a big warm fire and a roasted haunch of meat (or a decent beer) and we immediately start making stuff up for our own amusement. But that doesn’t really forgive trying to turn a social network into your personal word processor.
This is usually the brainchild of some useless Creative Writing master’s candidate who thinks writing a novel on Twitter is absolutely brilliant because nobody’s ever thought of it before. These people are incapable of Googling “Twitter novel” and seeing the results. More to the point, it’s never an interesting novel. It’s always a novel about a sensitive old soul (I.e. the writer) and how some character who TOTALLY isn’t their ex has left them and now they are sad, and feeling the deep sadness of the sad room.
Apparently, despite the presence of fanfic, we just can’t have enough bad fiction on the Internet.
#2) Trying to build the record-holding group
This was pretty common in the MySpace era, but if anything, Facebook and Twitter have made it worse. And that’s the guy trying, for one shining moment, to capture the world record for biggest online group.
I mean, we’ve got to ask…is this really anything that even deserves a world record? Guinness exists to stop bar fights, but who gets in a bar fight over who has the biggest online group? Is this a problem in the bars of the world that we don’t know about? Do people really care that much?
What’s even sadder is that whoever runs the group seems to be laboring under the delusion that this will matter, or that this being his ambition isn’t kind of pathetic, like the guy who can peel the most potatoes in a minute or the guy who spends every spare moment practicing the trampoline to get the highest jump. Yeah, you have a world record, but it’s not going to impress anybody and will probably work against any chance of impressing women, which is probably why you wanted a world record in the first place.
Also, the guy never seems to understand that this is not a big deal to anybody who followed the group. Signing onto a group is as easy as clicking join and then forgetting about it for the rest of your natural life, but this guy inevitably thinks everybody really cares and tearfully sends out a spam message thanking you all for helping him achieve his dream.
And then you leave the group, because you don’t care, and he loses his record.
#3) Marketing Themselves
Sure, spam is inevitable. Wherever there are people, there’s some poor bastard being paid $10 an hour to post to his message board about how cheap the Cialis is at some website frontloaded with viruses. We’re not talking about that.
We’re talking about the guy who, once you make the mistake of friending him, will assume you are his best friend and therefore want to read his blog, vote his blog in the Bloggies, read his notes about his blog, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. He changes his name constantly to plug whatever contest he’s trying to win. He tags you on a picture, and it’s just his new logo for his blog. If he comments on your status, he works in some link to his blog. You’re pretty sure he’s tattooed the URL all over his body in order to make sure anybody who sees him naked knows that it’s his blog.
Then he wonders why, with all his promotional efforts, the traffic is still so low.
#4) Any major moment in a relationship
Look, we get it. We transact more and more of our lives online. Our friends are online. Our family is online. Our significant others are inevitably online. And, similarly, everybody wants to make their proposal to the person they want to spend the rest of their life with special. Unique. Powerful.
The urge is heartfelt but the effort is usually misguided, which is why guys propose to their girlfriends on Jumbotrons, with mariachi bands, and playing hide-the-ring when they should really just drop to one knee and get it over with in a semi-private place. But nowhere is this worse than using social networking to do it.
Seriously, if nothing else, this is something you have to do in person. Anything else is what we used to call “tacky” before VH1 and the Learning Channel teamed up to destroy shame. Don’t propose by posting an image of the ring on Facebook. Don’t propose with a Tweet. Do you really want your proposal to be seen and mocked by millions of strangers, instead of just five guys at the restaurant if she turns you down?
Then, of course, there are incidents when the relationship goes sour. Look, break-ups in social networks are public, period. In some cases, people actually get killed. It’s a bit like having a reality show erupt on your Facebook, except it’s not funny. Keep your relationship offline. It’ll be healthier anyway, and that way, your mom won’t find out you’re breaking up and that your little sister has a filthier mouth than you.
#5) Pick fights with strangers over their opinions
Sure, the internet is full of trolls and idiots, but you’d think Facebook, at least, would be relatively free of that if for no other reason than you’re talking to people you actually know and your real name is attached to your opinions.
But apparently not. Apparently, this just makes the desire to troll even worse. And it’s got two levels.
The first is posting political opinions on the Wall of a group or a fan page. This still makes you a huge loser, but at least maybe that group or fan page might actually be about a political figure, so it has some actual merit. You’re still trying to pick a fight and be a douche, but at least it’s on topic.
The second is what we like to call the “Person You Barely Know Freak-Out”, wherein you post a political opinion, and some person you friended because of your mutual interest in something innocuous, or because you were acquaintances back in high school, proceeds to completely flip their shit at you.
The second is the worst because it’s like having a holiday dinner argument broadcast live to the entire world. It’s all hangin’ out there: names, relationships, all for the sampling of the drama. God forbid we’d actually show some taste and not do this; no, we have to flip out.
On the bright side, when we’re all inevitably on YouTube, Google combing every moment of our lives for great video, this’ll be good practice for faking drama.