Mr. Charlton Gets Rid of Facebook

This is one of those blog posts that I had a hard time writing. The kind where I would pump out seven hundred words, only to look back and realize that I was a rambling mess, ranting off in the distance without any kind of coherent structure to my ideas. It was a random train of thought, one that derailed into a small community and exploded into a fiery mess of anecdotes and half-witty remarks. The people I was writing for would be reading with a mouthful of coffee, slowly swallowing as their eyes narrowed; “What the fuck is Mr. Charlton talking about?”. Well, today he’s ranting about Facebook.

I got rid of it, finally.

If you’ve read my blog on a somewhat regular basis, you’ll know I have a deep-seated hatred towards Facebook. I’m not a fan. In fact, it’s come up in about ten percent of my writing. That’s a lot, considering that Facebook is free. And there’s a pretty strict rule that I’ve been adhering to, especially recently as I’ve gotten older.

Don’t ever complain about something you’re getting for free.

Being the hypocrite that I am, I’ve been complaining about this free service for years. I’m not alone in my complaints; tons of people like myself dislike social media, especially Facebook. So then why are we using it?

Understand that Facebook, and a lot of other tech giants, have worked tirelessly over the last decade (even longer in many cases) to integrate themselves into the fabric of our society. You might convince yourself you’ll be missing out on something if you refuse their services. Truthfully, you will be. Without Facebook, there’s a good chance I might miss events that are organized there. And that’s a shame.

But…

The party is still taking place. That get-together is going to happen, it’s simply no longer convenient for the host to invite me. They’ll have to get a hold of me some other way. They’re going to have to send a carrier pigeon. They might try and put a message in a bottle, casting it out to the ocean in the slim hopes it washes up on my shores. Or, heaven forbid, they might have to use the telephone app on their smartphone and call me to arrange the party. Facebook is convenient.

Iphone-HomeScreen

A ten year old asked me why the phone app was a ‘C’ shape.

Facebook is too convenient.

It’s so convenient, in fact, that you can have a social media relationship with someone you don’t know. I had a little over three hundred people on my friend list. At least a third of them? People I had met once. One interaction, years ago, was now something that Facebook convinced me was valid. It’s really easy to add people, over the years, over a pint at the bar when you’re four drinks deep and now everyone in the pub is your friend. Now your free social media page needs work. It needs to be culled every now and again. You’re social media image is something you’re going to have to manage.

Years ago, it used to list your friends post’s chronologically. Now Facebook has determined that you want to see what the hottest topics are. Those are the posts that keep you looking at Facebook, your eyes open on the screen while ads fill the sidebars. You know what posts seem to gather the most attention?

The controversial ones.

If you’re wondering why Facebook in particular seems to have gotten more mean-spirited in the last couple of years, it’s not because you’re getting older and more cynical. It’s because the easiest button to push in the emotion panel of your brain is the anger / outrage button. The social engineers at Facebook know this, and capitalize on it.

They’ve also figured out how to give you a dopamine hit when you participate in conversations. Someone says something wrong? On the internet? Fire back a snappy comeback, then watch as like-minded people support your post with likes and LOLs. A thirty second reply takes thirty seconds, but Facebook knows you’ll spend up to an hour or more seeing if anyone else validated your opinion.

All of your rage, your laughs, your accomplishments, your highs, your lows, everything you post to social media is facilitated by companies who are trying their hardest to manipulate your emotions. And they’re doing it because for every hour you spend on their site, they might make half a penny. Don’t quote me on that number. The point I’m trying to make is that your attention isn’t worth a lot to them, so they’re going to milk your attention for everything that it’s worth.

I’m picking on Facebook, but they’re not the only ones doing it. Instagram (owned by Facebook), Youtube (owned by Google), Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Imgur. They’re all competing for your attention.

If you’re wondering what happened to me, well, they ended up getting too much of my attention. They got so much of it that my only solution was to turn it off completely. It wasn’t the Cambridge Analytics issue, it wasn’t Zuckerberg having to testify in front of a bunch of congresspeople he was already donating campaign money to, it wasn’t Russian bots trying to undermine democracy. It was the simple problem of spending too much time on Facebook and Reddit, and not spending enough time writing, making games, learning new skills, and enjoying life.

Zuckerberg

“I swear, your honor, that I put my pants and my flesh mask on just like the rest of you homo sapiens.”

I’ve lost the convenience of easily connecting with people. But I don’t think it should be easy to connect with people. It should be tough. It should be a little bit of work. Out of the three hundred friends I had a week ago, it’s plummeted to roughly sixty. I’m alright with that. Even though it’s going to be a little more work to connect with people, I have at least an extra hour a day to it. And maybe a five minute phone call would be better than liking a photo of them online.

The internet is a powerful tool. But like any tool, it can be misused. Stirring the pot to get peoples attention on the internet is like smearing the walls with shit to get your perfume to stand out. It works, but people are going to eventually get sick of the poop smell, even if the perfume is free.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m four days in of not having access to social media. It’s been pretty zen so far.

1. Image taken from https://news.sky.com/story/five-questions-mark-zuckerberg-needs-to-answer-in-congress-11325242

 

 

Send in the Clowns

Clowns. They’ve been popping up in the media a lot more frequently than they used to. Clowns worldwide have been scaring the shit out of regular, honest folks. This new, viral, phenomena has taken the internet by storm, with people getting together, dressing up as creepy clowns, and trying to frighten others for the lulz. To give you an idea of exactly how bad the clown problem has gotten, there’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to clown sightings for 2016. Hundreds of clowns have been sighted over the world, most notably in North America. Clowns are now being banned from schools, from workplaces, and even entire communities. When did clowns become such a menacing part of our culture? Was it the Joker, from the new Batman films? Was it Stephen King’s IT? Or maybe it’s the fact a clown is currently running for president of the United States?

trump-ugh

Scariest Clown sighting of the year

Here’s the kicker, people. I don’t actually remember a time when clowns were popular. I’ve never heard of a clown actually doing a birthday party, except in movies from the 80’s. I’ve seen clowns at the circus, but the circus is something I’ve only been to a handful of times in my life. I’ve never sought out clowns. I’ve never said to myself, “You know what, Mr. Charlton? This day needs more clowns”. In fact, the only time I can remember using the word clown is when I derisively call someone a clown.

I did some research. When I say research, what I mean is I typed ‘when was the last time clowns were funny’ into a search engine. And what I found will shock you.

Clowns have never been funny.

There’s a bizarre notion people before our time weren’t funny. I never really imagined the Romans sitting around, laughing their asses off because Julius made a snide remark to Anthony regarding his footwear, but sarcasm has been around for a while. There were also clowns, but looking through the lens of time shows us clowns were performers showcasing demon tricksters. Clowns showed both the light and dark side of humanity through pranks. What I’ve learned is clowns have been jesters, fools, and pranksters.

You ever met someone who’s a “prankster”? They’re assholes.

“It was just a prank, brah” is the calling card of these jester jerkoffs. Youtube is filled to the brim of dickheads who have confused sadism and masochism with humour. That’s what these clowns are about. The point I’m trying to make is this; clowns are greasy performers, not funny people. We used to laugh at them because they’re terrible human beings, not because they’re comedians.

Why have these clowns started popping up? We stopped laughing at them cruelly, which is the only way to laugh at clowns to keep them at bay. We’ve ignored them for too long. Clowns were ridiculed for years, derided and called out for their foolishness. This was the natural order of things. It was the way to drive the demon spirits away. In our age of extreme tolerance, we’ve forgotten that if there is one group of people who should be laughed at, it’s clowns. We, unfortunately as a society, collectively decided to take clowns seriously. We said “Maybe clowns aren’t so bad, maybe we shouldn’t be spraying them with water, hitting them with pies, or forcing them to pile in clown cars. Clowns deserve every opportunity the rest of us do.” And that’s led us down the dark path we’ve taken. A prominent clown is running for president. The media surrounding him is now a circus.

We’ve stopped laughing at clowns. I guarantee if this clown gets into office, then no one will be laughing for at least the next four years. What can you do, dear reader? If someone is acting like a clown, then make fun of them. They’re the necessary punching bag we need. Clowns serve a very important function in society, and that’s to provide the rest of us an outlet to express our rage and disgust. It allows the rest of us to get along. To not just tolerate out differences, but to celebrate them. Because is some clown is going to spray his face orange and turn democracy into a crazy fun house, then maybe they deserve to be taken down a peg.

 Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. This is going to be the last long form post I’ll be doing for the next month. November is NaNoWriMo, and every damn word needs to count! I’ll still be posting, but it’ll be more of a diary about trying to squeeze out a novel in thirty days.