November 12, 2014
Ah, the internet. It’s hard to imagine life without it, but the scary truth is that if you’re our age (which we’re calling mid-late twenties) you can remember a time before your digital world became your actual world.
Like everything, the net has its pitfalls, and our lives were probably much simpler before we got our first dial-up modem – for those of you who don’t remember dial-up, it sounded like a heartbroken robot as it connected, and if your dad picked up the phone you’d be booted off MSN faster than you could say “ASL?”.
Yes, all the information you could ever need is but a quick Google search away, and you can swap nudes with that dude you flirt with who lives on the other side of the world in the wink of a eye, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be…
Watching drama play out on Facebook is like watching an animal that’s been hit by a car slowly dying at the side of the road. You want to help, you’re just not sure what to do. You try and intervene, but it just gets messy, and for some strange reason you can’t look away. Unlike our hypothetical dying animal, Facebook beef also has the potential to be hilarious, especially when you’re watching an argument play out over something stupid like reality TV. The problem with social networks is that they allow you to share an opinion with everyone you know, and there are always going to be people who disagree. Can you imagine if you just walked into a busy shop and announced: ‘I think X Factor is shit’? Remember, opinions are like arseholes… everyone has one, and it’s probably best if you don’t share it with too many people.
You OK hun?
‘Can today get any worse?’, ‘I can’t believe someone I love so much could hurt me so spectacularly’, ‘I just want to cry’… those are just a few examples of the attention-grabbing status updates posted by the needy. As soon as it is posted, the comments are bombarded with the same old replies: ‘You OK hun?’,’What’s happened?’, ‘Inbox me if you need to talk.’ Look, if you really wanted to tell people what was going on, you’d just post the entire ordeal in the first place. Anyone who has ever had anything truly bad happen to them will know that, when it’s happening, updating your Facebook status is the last thing on your mind. Hun.
The net is dark and full of spoilers
It’s never been easier to watch your favourite TV shows at your own convenience. Gone are the days when you had to be in front of your TV at a particular time to catch the latest episode – now you can watch it live, an hour later, you can rewind it, take a break half way through or save it for days/weeks/months later. Now should be the greatest time to watch TV shows, although it isn’t… because spoilers. Just because you can watch TV at your own leisure, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re not up to date, you have to avoid all social media, lest your favourite show be ruined for you. There’s much debate about whether it’s cool to discuss the latest episodes on Twitter/Faebook/etc. but it’s not enough to watch TV shows when they’re actually on, because you have to contend with those scoundrels who stream shows as soon as they’ve aired in America, but before they’re on over here.
Netflix has become a real problem for you
Netflix is my favourite thing, my best friend, my lover… Netflix is my world. With heaps and heaps of movies and TV shows, you can easily lose hours (or, if we’re being honest, days) watching anything and everything – the latest hyped TV series, the weirdly specific recommendations based on other things you’ve watched and even some terrible film called Beauty and the Briefcase, just because you can. The best thing about Netflix is the ability to binge watch TV shows. I’ll plough my way through older shows I never got into at the time, or as soon as Netflix originals are added in their entirety (House of Cards, The Killing) I’ll watch and watch and take everything far too seriously and cry real tears when characters die until I am too physically and emotionally exhausted to watch another episode. And then I’ll watch one more.
You won’t believe what point I’m about to make
‘You won’t believe [this]’, ‘…and you’ll never believe what happens next!’ – we’ve all seen articles with these titles, the ones that give nothing away with the intention of intriguing you enough to click and read the story. The thing is, they’re never as interesting as they make out like they’re going to be. ‘This guy is carrying a cake… and you’ll never guess what happens next!’ Does he drop it? *clicks* Yep, he drops it. I mean, can you imagine if the real news was reported this way? ‘You won’t believe what happened when these two cars crashed’, ‘You’ll never guess how this woman died’, ‘Manchester United played Chelsea… and you’ll never believe what happened next’…
We live in a time when one of those most recognised rules of the internet is ‘pics or it didn’t happen’. People get really into Instagram, to the point where they Instagram everything – everything. If you go to a restaurant with your friends, before anyone starts eating, everyone whips out their phones and starts taking pictures. As your food is going cold, you’re trying to decide between Mayfair and Walden. It’s a tough decisions to make, and what about a vignette?
You’ve lost touch with reality
Your online world is a big deal. From Instagramming everything you eat to posting a status about everything you do, you keep your peeps updated – usually too updated. Suddenly, things like how many followers you have is a big deal. If you don’t get an impressive number of likes on your selfie, you wonder what was wrong with your hair. And it’s not just social networks that are the problem. You’re binge watching TV shows on Netflix. Walter White is like a dad to you, and you’re really over-invested in what he’s up to. Life turns into that annoying thing that keeps you from your next episode. A meth lab sure beats the office, though.
You don’t remember how to talk to people
You don’t mean to seem insincere, but GIFs and memes just express your feelings way better than your words ever could. If someone makes you laugh in a text, ‘LOL’ just doesn’t cut it anymore, but a GIF of two Minions laughing together… that conveys how you’re feeling perfectly.
You’re going to die alone
You’ve pretty much given up on love because you decided to try online dating and it has scared you senseless. If we’re being honest, if meeting people in real life was a viable option then you’d probably stick to that, but using a dating site allows you to widen the net… funny then, that the people you meet on there are so fussy. Definitely have standards – very, very high ones – but don’t bang on and on in your bio about what kind of facial expressions you deem acceptable in photos or what kind of make-up you don’t like to see on a girl. If you’re that much of a moron that you think that stuff is permanent and should stop you from dating someone, then chicks will think you’re an idiot and avoid you at all costs. That’s when we’re not being sexually harassed, insulted or under-whelmed when we finally deem a guy not much of a strangle risk and meet up.
Catfishes are a thing
Catfishing is a thing now, and we all have to contend with it if we’re talking to people online. Thanks to the MTV show Catfish, we all know the tried and tested ways to spot a fraud, like how to tell the fake profiles, how to reverse image search, etc. Whatever their reasons for pretending to be someone else, no one likes being lied to… or accosted by a lambskin dildo-wielding female Lil Bow Wow wannabe.
Dicks, dicks everywhere
With the internet, you can interact with anyone, anywhere in the world. You can send messages, pictures, talk on the phone, video chat… the possibilities are endless, and yet the best we can do is send snaps of our genitals to one another. There was a time when, if you wanted to look at porn, you had to go out of your way to seek it out. Now, all you need is a exhibitionist Snapchat friend. If I can go a day without receiving an unsolicited dick pic, then I consider that a good day. Swapping nudes is risky business, too. With the Fappening and the Snappening, it’s not enough to just trust the other person anymore.
People you don’t like use the net too
Thanks to Facebook, you can now see how happy your ex is with his new girlfriend. You can look at his happy status updates, his holiday photos… and it makes you sick, but if you delete him, you’ll seem bitter, which you so aren’t. Facebook has this feature called ‘People you might know’ which they may as well rename ‘People you definitely hate’ because it’s just made up of kids who bullied you at school, friends of friends who you don’t like enough to add and a bunch of perfect strangers.
Anyone can contact you
From random people to bunny boilers, anyone can send you messages on social networks, whether you want them to or not. Whether it’s a sleazy DM from some guy on Twitter or an angry girlfriend on Facebook, messaging you to ask why you called her boyfriend ‘love’ (I’m northern, terms of endearment are our thing), you’re going to have to content with messages from randoms, and people are pretty brave when they have a keyboard to hide behind.
It’s going to get you in trouble
From that random person you accepted on Facebook who keeps commenting on your photos saying you’re beautiful, to that telling name on your friends list – the net can land you in big trouble, especially with your significant other. And even if your public interactions are just being misinterpreted (I mean, no one would be stupid enough to cheat in public, would they?) and your private messages are kept private, there are still telltale signs you’re talking to people you shouldn’t. The worst of all for landing people in it is probably Snapchat, and their pesky ‘best friends’ lists. An algorithm generates a list of the three people a user swaps snaps with most each week, and posts it under their name for all to see. This can land you in big trouble with your boyfriend if there’s a guy you’re swapping snaps with more than him, or even bigger trouble with one of your besties if she sees that one guy she teases you about at the top of your list yet again (I swear, it was him sending them to me, not the other way around).
IT’S FUCKING DISTRACTING
The internet is the ultimate tool, and can pretty much aid you in doing absolutely anything. It’s also full to the brim with videos of animals doing cute things, funny memes and gives you the ability to talk to pretty much anyone you know. You sit down at you laptop to work, and you’re not getting anything done. Not when videos like this exist.
Dr Internet diagnoses cancer for everything
Feeling under the weather? Noticed a weird mark on your arm? Wondering why you’re feeling so tired? It can be tempting to google your symptoms, but despite a wealth on knowledge online, all signs will point to cancer, and you’ll believe it. Here’s the thing to remember when you’re googling symptoms: when people have a health concern, they’ll post about it online and they’ll continue to do so while things are bad. When people get better, they don’t post about it online, they get on with living their lives, that’s why it’s easy to find the horror stories and hard to find happy endings. Of course, if you’re into catastrophising, you’ll assume they stopped posting because they died.
Facebook is a family affair
Suddenly you parents and elderly relatives have Facebook, and there’s nothing you can do to control the situation. ‘That top is a bit low,’ your mum will observe – it doesn’t matter than you wore it in front of her, just that you have a photo documenting it. You’ll be tagged in photos from your childhood that you would rather see burned, your cheeky status updates that your friends find so funny will cause your gran to flick holy water at you and your dad will ask you a little too calmly (but with pure anger in his eyes) who that boy is who said you look fit in your profile picture. Suddenly you have to filter everything you say, and make sure your friends do the same. Although, perhaps that’s a good thing…
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