Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Please Stop Saying That!

Stop it 5 - Cam'ron & Vado

Let's face it, we basically live in a virtual reality. It's cool. I don't mind being watched (hi NSA!) and I don't mind being connected to everyone online, even people I don't know in real life. I like online communication.

What bothers me is a lack of originality. Reading comments on social media sites or comment sections of news stories can be maddening in their repetitiveness, much more so than real life small talk (although that can also melt my brain).

Here are 5 of the comments that make me cringe and need to be stopped before the entire internet gets sucked into a void of unoriginality:

5. "Why is it always about race?" 

(The cousin of "I'm not a racist but..." and best friend of "But my best friend is...")

We all know these, so I won't spend too much time on them. Whenever I see someone actually use one of these lines, I just laugh and hope the person is being ironic. Unfortunately, most of the time they are not, and when you try to explain why the phrases themselves heavily imply racism, the person using them doesn't want to hear it.

These phrases will never go extinct, but I'll still hope for it. Having a black president has only solidified the world view of the people who use these terms. Apparently, one black president in our nation's history is "proof" that "racism is over", so now when any minority claims that he/she is a victim of racism, or when you argue that race still plays a part in every day life for a majority of people, the reply is, "Why is it always about race? You're racist for even bringing up racism!" That's the delusion of all delusions, that somehow people that have benefited from institutionalized racism for centuries, and continue to benefit, are now the victim of racism.

However, there is a point to be made with the comment, "Why does it always have to be about race?" Unfortunately, it's not usually the point people are trying to make when they say it. There are in fact some people who yell "racism!" any time something doesn't go their way, which distracts from real instances of racism. Most of the time, though, when a person claims to be the victim of racism, they are not the ones making it about race, the perpetrator is; the victims are just pointing it out. Victims get accused of "pulling the race card", but they wouldn't have to pull it if it didn't exist in the first place. But it does, so they do, and they shouldn't be blamed for it.

4. "Wake up!" Usually followed by, "sheeple!"

Ok. First off, the whole "sheep" thing is really played out. Pink Floyd had a whole album of animal allegories (basically Animal Farm to rock music) with sheep symbolizing the majority of the population who blindly follow the authoritarian government, and even then some critics were calling it an elementary, derivative metaphor. Turning it into "sheeple" is even worse because now you've taken away the metaphor and merged it with what it actually represents. It's not clever; people just use it because, hey, listen to how cool it sounds when you put one word together with another word! (Admittedly, spork is still one of my favorite words.)

"Wake up!" is thrown out during all sorts of disagreements. It can be used for something as simple as sports (Wake up! The Mets will never be a good team!) or something more serious like gun control (Wake up! If you don't think the government is going to come into your house and take everything from you, you're not paying attention!). When it's something innocuous like sports, it's simply an annoying saying. When it's a more serious matter, it's insulting. The person using it assumes he or she knows more about this particular subject than you. The implication is that if you just knew a little more about the issue and had a better understanding, you would have a different opinion, or more specifically, you would share their exact opinion. It couldn't possibly be that you simply have a different opinion, it must be that you're a moron, asleep to the important issues of the world. Wake up man! Think more like me!

Stop it.

3. "Just sayin..."

Uuuuuuuugh. What are you saying exactly? If you're "just sayin" something, just fuckin say it!

Now granted, I'm guilty of this one, too. It works perfectly, and that's why it's so annoying. You deflect any blame if people catch offense to what you've said, because, hey, you're "just sayin." You don't mean anything by it. You're "just sayin". A lot of people do it for humorous effect or ironically or whatever, but it's getting really old and really not funny. Just tell your joke, there's no need to add a word meme.

Image memes on the other hand...

2. "The greatest ever!"

Ok, this mostly applies to one person on my Facebook feed, who claims a new athlete is the "greatest ever" at a particular sport every day, or that a tv show is "the most amazing show ever", or a fucking brand of cheese dip is "the best dip ever". But a lot of people do it. Now I should clarify, I'm fine with people calling Michael Jordan the greatest ever, or Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure the greatest ever, because that implies a degree of thoughtfulness behind the claim, and there is plenty of evidence to support those claims (I have Bill & Ted's on dvd if you need further proof). My problem is when people say it spontaneously. They see a play on Sportscenter: "Ohhh that was the greatest alley-oop ever!" They see a decent movie and it becomes, "the funniest movie ever!" Just stop it. Take one second to think of another way to describe things. That phrase really doesn't tell me much about the thing you're talking about. Besides, is it really the greatest ever? When you use that term two or three times a week, how can I possibly take you serious?

Greatest movie poster ever? Now we can talk.

And if you're taking about yourself, like when rappers or Randy Moss do it, it's just not really your place to say. Unless you're Danny Brown.

A variation of this phrase is "Best. Thing. Ever." This phrase was originally an ode to a genius piece of comedy, but now it has just been played to death. Stop with the periods between the words. Your implied emphasis isn't that clever. Seriously. Stop. It.

Honorable Mention: "Who the hell is..." 

You see this on every single news story. When there's a story about a celebrity getting arrested, 100% of the time someone will be in the comment section saying, "Who the hell is Gucci Mane?" First off, if you're on the internet asking what or who something is, your absolute idiocy is on display. Stop writing the comment in the comment section, and type it into Google. There's your fucking answer. Now I get that most people do it for humor, but again, the shit isn't funny after 1 billion times. Lindsay Lohan gets arrested again? "Who the hell is Lindsay Lohan?" Well, if you don't know, god bless you. But the fact is, you do know, you're just trying to be a part of the conversation without really thinking or adding anything.

1. "It's just a show/game/movie/celebrity. There are more important things to worry about."

No shit. But did you know that the human brain is actually capable of thinking and caring about more than one thing at a time? It's true!  So if I want to take a break from worrying about Iran's nukes to talk about Brian from Family Guy dying, it's ok! I still care about the nukes, but sometimes you need to think about some less serious matters. That's why we have tv in the first place!

"Why is this even news?" is another variation, and it might be the most aggravating comment on news sites. The thing is, commenters like this may have a point, but they're proving to be assholes if they think the story isn't newsworthy yet click on it and take the time to comment on it. If it's not newsworthy, don't read it. Websites earn money through page views, and you justified their reasoning for writing this particular story by clicking on it. If it's not "newsworthy" don't click on it. Keep it moving. Idiot.

As far as our obsession with celebrities and entertainment, that is nothing new, and it's not an American novelty. Every civilization was obsessed with celebrities; why does anyone think something that is so ingrained into our psyche will change all of a sudden?

This is another comment that actually has a point buried in its pretentiousness somewhere. Yes we need to strike a balance with our interests; as fans, we don't want to turn into Kathy Bates in Misery. There's a line, but it's ok to care about fictional stories and characters. That's all part of the human experience.

This comment can take on various forms and becomes more sinister when it is made in regards to certain news stories. For example, "You're so concerned with Trayvon, what about all the kids dying in Chicago?" Well, I do care about them and when we talk about gun violence and kids dying as a whole, we can talk about that, but for right now I'm talking about this particular case. This type of comment is a way to take the importance out of anything. "Oh you're so upset about that, what about this?" It minimizes everything and it implies quite pompously that we should only be concerned with the absolute worst things in the world, or that you have to somehow deal with every single issue in the world all at once. I can care about more than one thing at a time, it's just very hard to discuss every problem in the world simultaneously; words can only cover so much at a time. Besides, those people never cared about the kids dying in Chicago, they just wanted to divert the conversation away from the complexities of the Trayvon case, and the same thing happens with any difficult issue.

"There are more important things to worry about" is a way to avoid talking about uncomfortable situations, or it's used to discredit and devalue other people's interests. If somebody wants to vent about how horrible The Internship is (holyshitfuckingterriblyhorrible) or if they want to write a note about how sad they are that Lou Reed or Paul Walker died, why do you care? It doesn't take long to write a little post about somebody dying, and if people want to take a minute to pay respect to a person that somehow gave them joy, it shouldn't bother you that much. I understand how annoying it can be to see 35 posts about the death of some mediocre rock star that made music you hated, but if it just happened, and if you're on social media, what do you expect? Social media, especially Twitter, is a snapshot of what people are talking about in the world right now, so of course you will see a lot of posts all at once about something that just happened. Nelson Mandela just died? Expect to see a hundred posts about it for 2-3 days. That's how it works. And sometimes, the things that people talk about aren't all that important, relatively speaking. That's ok. It's healthy to be mentally well-rounded. Thinking about serious issues all the time just leads to depression.

That all being said, let's get our priorities straight people. It can't be all cartoons and Kardashians and Duck Fuckin Dynasty. Those are meant to be distractions in our lives, not the focal point.

How did we get here as a society?

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

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