Remember when you first signed up for Facebook, when you were trying to figure out how to message your high school girlfriend and those dudes you hung out with in college? Well, now that we are all in touch again, we remembered that we don’t hang out with these people for a reason! You want to be friends, but like it was in 1985. Today, it just sucks. Your ex-girlfriend is an asshat and so, so stupid – you didn’t remember that about her. You won’t tell your uncle that you find his politics reprehensible and you can’t tell that one old office buddy that almost everything he posts is some kind of bullshit internet folklore that you first saw in 2001 and because he insists on posting it, and worse, defending it, you can’t take anything he says for the truth. Well, except for the post about his daughter finally graduating from high school. That one is probably true and if not, who cares.
Your old friends are super, ultra: religious, rich, stupid, enjoyable, happy, miserable – whatever – and you aren’t. You’re getting your offbeat news from your newsfeed but you have to check Snopes about every single thing because it all sounds so over the top. The click bait, the free iPads, the liked posts that you are certain you would never like… it’s a horror show.
So what is Facebook good for? I guess its good for all that stuff. We like drama don’t we? Rick Perry this and ISIL that, he said and she said and we love the click bait too! We know it’s stupid. We’ll see a title like “Watch the drunken fool who indicted Perry”, all the while knowing that drunken fools can’t indict people on their own, but we click. We are stupid, curious creatures aren’t we?
This is the stupid crap we click on…
Marine who urinated on corpses dies!? What the hell!? Dude kills himself while taking a selfie? Really, that’s probably good, but I digress.
There is a psychological principle called “The Near Miss”. It’s well known in gambling circles but it applies to everyday life too.
Near misses are widely believed to encourage future play, even in games of chance where the probability of winning remains constant from trial to trial. – Journal of Gambling Behavior, Vol. 2(1), Spring/Summer
That article goes on to say; “Some commercial gambling systems, particularly instant lotteries and slot machines, are contrived to ensure a higher frequency of near misses than would be expected by chance alone.” That’s Facebook! We’ve seen some really good content there before like the posts from our dear friends about their kids, whom you adore. Those hysterical Vine compilations – yeah, the good ones. The crazy Russian drivers, the interesting, viral videos and of course the chance at a well thought out public display of affection for our spouses right? We keep logging in because we think it may happen again. It’s really rare but magic when it happens.
If you really want to see what the internet has to offer, stay off of Facebook for a day or two. Check out Twitter and set up a Google+ account. Don’t follow celebrities, follow real people who are self described geeks or crochet gods or Phoenix foodies. You’ll find a wide world of moderate people who work hard at the things they love and freely share them. There is way more to the internet than cat videos (as much as we love those too) and you don’t have to go to the dark web to find something that you love. Ever heard of hashtags? Search for stuff you like with them… #crochet, #phoenix, #foodie, #hotrods
To me, the internet is the last bastion of altruism that individuals can benefit from. Those people who make images, write code, create beautiful pictures and movies and music, they do it for us. They share rides, food, files, they collaborate and make music and art, they share knowledge, experience, theory and just about anything you can think of. They do it for the love of it.