Yeah, we can still see you.

I’ve noticed something lately. Weird trend. A lot of my friends are denouncing social media and flouncing off into… wherever disgruntled Luddites go, I guess; I assume a badger hole or K-mart or Nebraska. And that’s fine, but a lot of the time I don’t understand their reasons.

The biggest one seems to be, “I’m tired of being bombarded with crap that isn’t enriching me.” Errr, it’s… I mean, why are you reading crap? Can’t you just unsubscribe from the crap and read the interesting things? Is the crap creeping in your window at night and into bed with you and putting its really cold feet on your legs?


“YOUR WHOLE FEED IS JUST SHIT YOU LIKED ON PINTEREST. STOP MAKING ME PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT YOUR NEWFOUND LOVE OF PIPE CLEANERS.”

To me, this is like waltzing into a library and declaring, “EXCUSE ME.” (SHHHH, it’s a library.) “EXCUSE ME. MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION.” (No, shut up, it’s a library.) “I WOULD LIKE EVERYONE TO KNOW THAT I WILL NOW BE LEAVING THE LIBRARY FOREVER.” (Good.) “IF ANYONE CARES–” (we don’t) “–IT’S BECAUSE I CAN NO LONGER TOLERATE READING NICHOLAS SPARKS NOVELS.” (Well, honestly, who can?) “I CANNOT CONDONE A SYSTEM THAT FORCES ME TO READ NICHOLAS SPARKS. SOCIETY IS ADRIFT ON A SEA OF ITS OWN MAKING.” (What?) “I TAKE MY LEAVE WITH MY HEAD HELD HIGH.” (Fine, whatever, just go.) “BITCHES.” (Well, that seems unnecessary.)

No one’s making you read anything you think is lame. If Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr aren’t doing it for you, there are mute buttons and unfollow buttons and general options for unsubscription that should satisfy your every disgruntled need. But, okay, fine, you’re fed up with being connected to everyone all the time and you want the voices to go away for a while and I guess it’s our fault that you don’t know when to shut your own damn phone or computer off when you’ve had enough for the day. You’ll probably be back in a month anyway. Enjoy your badger hole.


This is where I do a Google image search for “badger anus” and then feel too ashamed to post my findings. Here are some baby bat burritos instead.

Here’s what I really, really don’t understand: people who do not want to be mentioned on the internet. At all. No real names. No hilarious anecdotes. Definitely no pictures.

Remember 1997, when we were all still kind of figuring out the internet and Oprah was doing all those specials about why you can be kidnapped and raped if you looked at Compuserv sideways? And that’s because, in 1997, you could. The internet was still pretty much anonymous, and widely monopolized by technologically savvy shut-ins who could prey on the less informed, the less wary.

But we’re all using it now, many of us with our real names and faces. And while a lot of cowards and douchebags still hide behind their handles and pseudonyms, most of the time those things offer pretty flimsy protection when you’ve been a dickhole. Yes, by the same token, your identity can be pretty easy to uncover. But the point is that, in 2013, the internet is humanity’s public square — its literal forum, in the classic Roman sense. We’re all here. We can pretty much all see each other. And in broad daylight, there’s really not that much to worry about if you keep your wits about you.

If you are one of these skittish people, here is my question to you: do you wear a disguise every time you leave the house? Have you had your car’s windows tinted to law-flaunting levels of darkness? Do you make your kids wear glittery animal masks when you take them shoe shopping? I guess what I’m asking is, are you Michael Jackson?

Yeah, I'm "Michael Jackson." I have not been "dead for over three years."


Yeah, I’m “Michael Jackson.” I have not been “dead for over three years.” A-HEE-hee!

Probably you aren’t. Probably you are not the King of Pop. And that being the case, you don’t worry too much about strangers out in the world seeing your face, the kind of car you drive, etc. Because we do see you. We can all see you. Just out and about. Walking your dog. Checking your mail. Ducking into the home décor aisle at Target to covertly pluck out your wedgie. That doesn’t bother you at all. Why is Facebook different? At least with Facebook, you can control your audience — can and should, that being the literal, actual reason Facebook was founded. Stop howling about how some stranger might see that you exist. Strangers constantly see that you exist. Maybe some of them wish you didn’t. Maybe they’re the victims here. Did you ever think of that?

This is the most baffling manifestation of these paranoid histrionics:

Friend: …and then she smushed her breasts together and said, “These manatees aren’t scared of a little motorboating.”
Me: WHAT?
Friend: I know.
Me: Isn’t she the head of your entire department?
Friend: Yes. She’s also apparently the head of Jello shots and Irish Car Bombs.
Me: This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard.
Friend: Yes but DON’T PUT THAT ON TWITTER, CHARLOTTE.

Really? Listen, just because I have no compunctions about describing my menstrual cycles or digestive quirks or wet coital farts doesn’t mean I just naturally assume the same rules apply to everyone else. I’m not the Perez Hilton of my friends’ private lives. And by the way, if you’re so afraid of Blabbermouth LaChance over here, why are you confiding in me at all? Do you honestly think my desire to share your hilarious Cards Against Humanity answer last Tuesday — which I didn’t, because your mother-in-law is on Facebook and she’s really traditional and if she saw that you were engaging in questionable card games like a fucking adult, god forbid, she’d throw a temper tantrum and it would just make your whole Thanksgiving dinner really awkward — is the same thing as a pressing need to reveal you feel your boss is a whore or your wife has cancer or you think you might be gay? Give me a little credit.

I appreciate the complexities of this issue and realize my diatribe is unlikely to change any minds here. I ask only that people acknowledge their own absurdity. Because this shit is cray. And god, I really wish I hadn’t Googled “badger anus.”

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Comments

  1. wilder125@gmail.com says:

    One would think that the little pc/tablet/phone power button would be easy to press. Or the decision to stay away from facebook and never read through the past however many days one avoided it to catch up would be a good idea. The internet isn’t life.

    Unless someone buys it flowers, takes it out to dinner, tucks it in.

    In which case, I hope they don’t invite me to any shindigs. I’d hate to see what would be born from a human/internet mating. Cthulhu would need therapy.

  2. wilder125 says:

    Remind me to wait till I’ve gotten 4 hours sleep before typing next time. note to self: e-mail address is not the name

  3. And yet, when I see people with an email address in the form of firstname.lastname@domain.com, I feel a little twinge of sympathy akin to what I would feel for someone still using a beeper. Full identity disclosure is fine I suppose, but the internet is an arena in which we can plausibly use an alias, and passing up that little bit of fun seems like a missed opportunity.

    • wilder125 says:

      It’s one of 4. that’s one good thing about gmail. *shrug* I can transfer out of it and create a new one.

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