If You’re “FIRST!”, You’re Last: Internet’s Highs & Lows
Header via Alla Fiorentina
Home from work and it’s time to hop onto the internet.
Why? What’s the reason I’m going to these websites? Am I clicking links just because it feels natural, or is there a purpose to this?
After massaging my brainmeat, I’ve come up with the number one justification for hitting some of the web’s more popular places.
But for every light must come a shadow. Our favorite visitations don’t come without a sliver to battle the silver lining. That’s why I’ve compiled the top feature of each service while pointing out each’s extreme albatross.
High: Rapid-fire Information
I have two monitors set up on my desk; one is for my main action (writing, browsing, gaming, watching) and the other serves as my social hub (Twitter and Facebook feeds, instant messenger, email alerts). My Twitter feed, configured to update in real-time, is a constant trickle of information cascading down my screen.
This popped up at 10:21 PM Monday:
— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) February 12, 2013
Though unsubstantiated tweets followed shortly after, a rather credible source in the Wall Street Journal hit at 10:39 PM:
Breaking: North Korea appears to have exploded a nuclear device Tuesday.on.wsj.com/53aH8q
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 12, 2013
As of 10:50PM most major news websites and TV stations showed no trace of a story of an earthquake, whether man-made or of Mother Nature. CNN was the first to catch on around 10:52 PM with a tweet from Fox News landing around 11ish.
Ah, the speed of information.
To the major news networks’ collective credit they’re more likely to quadruple check sources before going with a story, but the WSJ isn’t exactly your local village’s newsrag. Are their sources hardwired into the ether(net) or are they just willing to take the risk of running an immediate albeit false report? This time landed them the scoop over TV, but the power to wield information is a tenuous one.
That’s how Twitter rolls; the information you receive is short, sweet, and quicker than an advertised Jimmy John’s delivery. Premature and incorrect news may be reported, but a source can retract, apologize, and post proper facts in the blink of a cursor. You’re solid as long as you follow credible and diligent accounts.
Low: Pleads for Retweets
Gothamist compiled a Twitter etiquette list last year that should apply until the social network fades into nothing but random access memories. Their #6 dealt with asking for retweets, or RTs.
There are three types of RT pleas:
- Philanthropic ones for charities, missing people, or those hospitally locked
- Supportive ones for businesses getting off the ground, contests requiring a certain amount of attention, or petitions
- Self-absorbed ones claiming top fandom or false notions of camaraderie
The initial two are fine by my standards- well, depending on what petitions are being circulated- but the third point is what’s wrong with many Twitter users. I even mentioned it in this past article, but the point continues to hold water.
If someone famous retweets your @reply to them due to its strong point or humorous content, then that should provide plenty of warm fuzzies inside. Pleading for RT from a celebrity or athlete that does it for all their fans should result in feeling “Kmart circa 2013″ empty.
High: Widespread Sharing
Everyone’s on Facebook. An exaggeration, yes, by how much? Roughly 1 billion people are but a search away from being your friend and making Farmville requests, and that means people have a lot to share.
Many websites, including the one you’re perusing right now, have buttons that allow you to share the currently-enjoyed content on your Facebook feed. Some websites even offer the ability to use your FB account to login for commenting and whatnot without the need to create an account. While that helped knock out the internet for a hot second, it’s also extremely efficient and convenient for people in a share-heavy society.
Not everything is worth sharing on a feed or wall. One might argue that the ability to share has spawned a new age of chain messages and misattributed quotes and facts, but the ease of access can allow us to overlook such annoyances. You’re even able to post such pages to other networks, but Facebook offers the large amount of views and full feel that no one can touch yet.
Go ahead and click that sharing button down there. It’s okay, I swear. I’ll be here when you’re done.
Low: Improper #Hashtags
Facebook and Twitter are sometimes seen as rivals, but they work well hand-in-hand; Facebook’s expansive use compliments Twitter’s import and brevity.
But this isn’t a Reese’s Cup situation. Keep your Twitter out of my Facebook.
I speak specifically to the wayward use of hashtags on Facebook. Hashtags provide a way to categorize or label tweets to a theme so followers, both current and potential, can see who else is discussing the same thing. One click takes you to all tweets using the same tag.
Facebook does not offer clickable hashtags. Why people are mixing them up is beyond me, but I’ve seen it on forums and several other places that don’t support the format. Instagram, conversely, allows assortment via the pound sign, but Facebook has yet to adopt the idea.
High: Photo Altering
That’s it! That’s Instagram’s deal. Fade your photos, offer an alternate color filter, or share untouched. You can always take pictures with your phone’s stock camera or a different app, but Instagram’s connection to Facebook completes the ease of sharing potential creativity. IG is definitely a gargantuan reason that photography has taken on a new life.
Low: Food Display
There are really neat Instagram photos out there. No, really! Stop laughing! Check out Business Insider’s take on 2012′s best IG shots.
Are the friends you follow fulfilling your dreams of fantastic photography? Hope you enjoy selfies and shots of breakfast because that’s what you’re going to get.
Instagram’s potential for widespread visual art enjoyment is squandered with a lack of consequence. Smartphones that came with a limited amount of camera film would help abate the nonsense, but a near-infinite amount of clicks allow users to capture images of cheeseburgers, eyebrows, and pockets- all of which can be turned sepia if it pleases.
It doesn’t, but that’s Instagram.
High: “How-To” Videos
It would be foolish to ignore the fact that there are other video hosting sites on the internet. I’d also be remiss if I ignored other social networks, search engines, and the like, but we all know the top dogs; why pick at it?
It’s possible that “Cats” would’ve landed as king of YouTube, but times have graciously changed. Don’t get me wrong- I love me some cute kitten videos. I just happen to rely heavily on “how-to” videos that run rampant on YouTube.
Instruction manuals are a thing of the past. My Roomba had dog hair clogging the rotors, but I was wary to put a screwdriver to my robotic baby. I could’ve thumbed through its booklet if I wanted to feel guilty with “THIS MAY VOID THE WARRANTY” prefacing every piece of info I needed, but why bother when I had an Indian chap lead me through step-by-step with proper visual aids and encouragement.
Even awful “how-to” videos offer some level of entertainment. Luckily, there are some that delve in both humor and education. Viral star Jenna Marbles specializes in these (NSFW Language):
For all know-how not presented in video form, check out eHow.
Low: Dreck Comments
Like the “High” for YouTube, I had a previous choice in mind: Challenges. They indirectly advocate doing what Jackass forbade you to do despite how much fun it appeared to be.
But the majority of time spent online is to kill time and keep entertained, and that’s exactly what the challenge videos present. Cinnamon, gallon, powdered donut, banana and Sprite, etc. Countless hours well spent.
No, the true YouTube concern stems from its comments. Examples of written missteps can be found here. While these cases in that link provide repetitive humor that is all former and none of the latter, the true offender is the offensive: racism, bigotry, and general hate spew from anonymous fingers because no one would dare spend a moment looking up any of that account’s information.
Attempts to corral the bullies have come to light, but no one will be safe until “FIRST” is outlawed.
Add that to Obama’s checklist.
I know I’ve spat at BuzzFeed before, but this is one market cornered by the self-proclaimed news organization. Not two hours ago did this collection of ’90s memories start circulating. Their “Rewind” section is a time-killer for anyone in their mid’ 20s-’30s.
And we truly need that from time to time. Nostalgia seems to be a sturdy happiness crutch for many generations, but it seems to be dire for the current age in charge. Maybe that’s due to us showing up as a tech-savvy and social sort with the ability to showcase our love for Squeezits on a broad basis. For whatever reason, BuzzFeed has our number when it comes to “those were the days.”
Low: Forced Virality
“Tom Hanks Admires Olivia Wilde’s Engagement Ring” is an entire page’s worth of bandwidth. “Jennifer Lawrence Sucks Her Thumb While Holding a Teddy at the Airport” is another.
I don’t think TMZ’s worried about anyone stealing their traffic.
BuzzFeed will post just about anything from pop culture in hopes that it catches fire. I occasionally wish that literally came true.
High: Crafts and Recipes
I won’t pretend that I’m too masculine to log into Pinterest. I once disguised myself just to find my way there, but I’ve learned to embrace it as an occasional idling station. Hell, I’ll even find something informative if I go digging.
And that’s Pinterest’s best option. Yes, there are wedding options and home decor choices, but the former is a (hopefully) one time occasion, and the latter often drains the wallet.
Creativity, mass appeal, and low cost: these reasons are why crafts and recipes reign supreme on the internet’s pinboard. My Pinterest feed is riddled with delicious looking meals, clothing “hacks,” and intriguing uses of household items. While I may not use the one that converts a bra for a low-backed dress, I know many who would. Mostly women.
Low: Broken Links
What use are those pins representing delicious treats and enthralling crafts if they don’t come with actual instructions? No worry! All you need to do is click to inflate the image, click again to go to the source page, and…
Whoops. Page doesn’t exist.
Well, at least the cupcakes looked scrumptious.
It’s Russian Roulette when it comes to finding what you actually want on Pinterest. As much as you want that tutorial on painting your walls with discarded laundry detergent to exist, the odds of it manifesting are Schrödinger-esque. Spin the wheel and hope for the best.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how can we quantify the value of a .gif?
This is THE reason to peruse Tumblr. Like Facebook, Tumblr is a place for rabid sharing, but the majority of that manifests in these animated images. Watch out; some accounts utilize ones involving sex and are naugh-tay.
Wading through these tagged posts highlights the lowest of lows when it comes to any sort of art. Whether or not you find a webcomic, drawing from deviantART, or random quote as viable art isn’t the concern; removing the artist’s signature or watermark and instilling lies of omission when someone applauds you on “your” work is.
Perhaps the internet has crippled true creativity, but that’s still no excuse for laziness and potential maliciousness.
Yup. Though Craigslist tossed their “Adult Services” category a while back, their hookup potential is still potent. It seems that three of the top four areas on Craigslist deal with dating and casual encounters.
The fourth? Cars and trucks.
While I wouldn’t stick with Craigslist as a dating site, it definitely has an audience for such innocent and illicit activities. Who am I to argue where you find true love or some action in the backseat of that Camaro you just got for $599 from some chap in the boonies?
Low: Sexually-worn Furniture
I think I’d prefer stocking my apartment with milk crates.
Is one of my highs a low in your eyes? Do you enjoy the mass amount of posts on BuzzFeed or using hashtags on Facebook? Let me know how wrong I am by commenting below, shooting us an email, or flipping off your computer screen. Trust me, it’ll sting.