How to Use the Internet

I wish I had been born with the common sense to avoid Instagram on January 1st. There has not been one minute in my life where I have wanted to see any of my friends’s lips pressed up against another person’s lips. But the people I follow on Instagram must have thought otherwise; I spent 2 minutes scrolling through pictures of New Year’s parties and counted approximately 14.5 pictures of kisses (the half was a couple who had clearly just finished kissing).

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s love parade, and I certainly don’t mind pictures of happy couples. But I don’t want to see you that happy. Keep your snogging between you and the other person involved and leave us out of it. Also, how do you kiss someone while taking a picture? It’s hard enough to be a good kisser or a good photographer, but combining the two? Keep that black magic off the Internet.

The interweb is a twisted web indeed. As Lorde brilliantly put it: “Maybe the Internet raised us.” Well, it’s not raising some of us well. This New Year’s Kissgate was just one of many crimes against humanity I’ve recently noticed. And so, for the benefit of us all, I have compiled a guide on how to use the Internet in 2014. May the robot takeover not get to you before it has to.

1. Use Webster’s third definition of ‘intimate’ for pictures of you and your boo.

Webster’s third definition of ‘intimate’ may be the bronze medalist as far as definitions go, but it’s small enough to recite before posting pictures of you kissing others: “very private.” Or, in layman’s terms, not for the public to be subjected to!

Another rule of thumb for kissing pictures is: If you had to take the picture because no one else was available to take it for you, it’s too intimate. I have seen very tasteful smooches captured in photos when a couple is getting engaged and someone else is clearly taking the picture. If no one is volunteering to take your picture locking lips with your boo, perhaps that’s because no one should be seeing it.

2. Your life isn’t another person’s life.

Recently there was a lot of hullabaloo over a blog post entitled “23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged When You’re 23.” This girl went off on everyone who is 23- that is engaged or married and suggested the rest of us get naked by our windows. Don’t tell me how to live my life!  I don’t need you telling me to date two people at once until it blows up in my face; that just makes me wonder how anyone can manage to date even one person without it blowing up.

I know this girl has been catching a lot of flack, so I’m certainly not just after her. What can be learned from the whole ruckus is this: Your life isn’t another person’s life. Live the life that you want to live, and don’t worry about how other people are living theirs. If a single person wants to be naked by her window for all the world to see, that is her harassment lawsuit to deal with later. If a young person wants to get married, don’t stand in the way of love.

Look–in our world today, a lot of people fall in love, a lot of people fall in “love,” a lot of people get married, a lot of people get divorced. No one has the magic formula. Do your own math and don’t assume your equation is going to work out for someone else.

3. Doctor/patient confidentiality: It’s not just for doctors anymore!

Let me start out by saying that if you are dealing with an illness and would like to seek the prayers or well-wishes of your social media friends, I see nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, I will pray for your foot injury without you telling me about the green gunk oozing out of it. In fact, I am more inclined to pray for your sickness if you are not describing the gory details of how many times you have puked in the last 17 hours. I don’t want to go so far as to say that I won’t wish you well if you get too graphic, but I may turn away in disgust before I get around to it. Some things are better left between you and your doctor and/or bathroom.

4. Don’t invite people to rob you.

If you are going on vacation and everyone who resides with you is going on said vacation, you may not want to post all of those pictures of your fam having a grand ol’ time at Disneyworld until you return home. Otherwise, before you leave you might as well post a picture of your abandoned home and say, “We’re off to Florida for 8 days. Robbers, you have 8 days to get everything you see here! Flight returns Sunday at 7 p.m.; better not come home to find you sneaky devils!”

5. Don’t post questions you can Google.

People, if you’re smart enough to use Facebook, you’re smart enough to use Google. If Google can’t help you, and you’re sure you’re not mis-Googling, then you may inquire of us how many Oscars Leonardo DiCaprio has won (it’s zero, by the way, but I Google it every week because I’m sure it’s a mistake).

6. The Internet is forever!

Because none of us took Wall-E seriously, we are constantly misusing technology without realizing it. In the age of Snapchat, we believe anything we delete from the Internet is gone forever. We are wrong. Any service that uses the Internet stores everything you do, regardless of the delete button. Don’t ever post, message, or text anything you’d be ashamed to see on TV if you ever ran for president. 2 Chainz was right to be paranoid about the Feds watching.

7. Promote what you love rather than dissing what you hate.

I stole this from a meme I saw on Instagram, but it’s great. If you don’t appreciate a person or music or what-have-you, move on to things you like. All press is good press, so don’t think that your hatred for Miley Cyrus is making her less popular. Instead, tell us what you enjoy so maybe we can enjoy it too. Don’t be like Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye, when his sister tells him his problem is he hates everything, and he claims he likes plenty of things but can’t name one. The world is negative enough without your cynicism; spread some love.

8. Stay out of arguments that don’t affect your daily life.

Your opinion about the Duck Dynasty fiasco is valuable and should be heard; however, and I hate to burst your bubble, but it doesn’t directly affect you or us in any way. So many people are taking to the Internet to say that this feud just goes to show that America is falling to secular standards and immorality. Listen: America is made up of millions of people, but it is not a person. America is not falling to anything. You are, or you are not. It’s as simple as that.

If you choose to believe in the right things, whatever those may be, then it is your job to stand up for them in your own life. Arguing with your Facebook friends about how Obama is ruining America and A&E is proof of America’s demise is not converting anyone to what you believe; it’s making them ignore what you have to say. I know this for a fact, because every time someone posts their hotheaded response to all things political or otherwise, I am less inclined to read anything they put out there in the future. And I’m a Christian; I can’t imagine how our nonreligious or non-Christian friends shut down to your “gospel” message.

9. Don’t be an egger.

One of my least favorite things online is seeing people supposedly sharing respectful opinions that are actually very catty. For example, a very popular singer recently caught heat for using a sample in a song from the Challenger explosion. I’m not going to comment on how I feel about it; I don’t know what the singer’s intentions were so I couldn’t make an accurate assessment of it. A very popular author, though, commented on his Instagram about the controversy by saying, “I get the need to make your relationship sound dramatic, but this is too far.” Did that author post that statement to say what she did was wrong, or did he post it because he thought it was cheeky and would get him likes? I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in (to the extent that you are not being the jerk in rule #8), but this author didn’t look better for dissing the singer. He just lowered himself to the level he thinks she is at, making light of a terrible tragedy. Measure your intentions before thinking you are bringing good into the world.

10. Not sharing is caring.

We have approached a time of self-absorption in our world where we assume that everyone wants to hear our every thought about everything. This really goes back to all of the rules, but we need to stop oversharing. Not every thought is meant to be a tweet; we don’t need a play-by-play of your mind. Facebook is not for your stream-of-consciousness. I would say it will be a very scary world when everything we think is put on display, but that time has already come. We are no longer scared of Orwell’s warnings in 1984; we say, “Come hear my thoughts about how people can’t drive and how this pasta I ate was pretty decent!”  They say that mystery is one of the most attractive qualities in a person. Perhaps we would gain the interest of more people if we weren’t seeking their attention as much.

11. Don’t be passive-aggressive.

If you want to hang out with people, call them. Statuses that say, “Need something to do. Anyone want to hang out?” just tells us that you don’t care enough about any one person to ask them personally, or you are afraid they will reject you. Take a risk and call (don’t text!) someone you have wanted to hang out with; lifelong friendships aren’t forged by newspapers ads of people “SEEKING COMPANION TO SPEND A FEW HOURS WITH.” Put yourself out there and the world will give back.

Of course, I just spent all of this time telling you how to live your life after saying in rule 2 that you shouldn’t tell other people how to live. And this, my friends, has all been an example in how NOT to use the Internet. I would delete this, but it’s already out there so what’s the use? Oh well. As you were.

2 thoughts on “How to Use the Internet

  1. Karen Taylor January 6, 2014 / 5:06 pm

    Best blog ever, Ben. Would you be interested in letting me reprint it in The Microplex News? It’s got so many great thoughts in it. Happy New Year to my favorite Nephew!

    • therealbenshady January 7, 2014 / 1:10 am

      Thank you! Yes, absolutely. That would be awesome.

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