I know how you grew up: You were the best at everything. You received a trophy when you lost the soccer game. Everyone’s a winner! From elementary school through college, everything revolved around you.
Once upon a time, dreamers worked for their celebrity. If Jennifer Aniston wanted to be followed to the grocery store or photographed dining at a fancy LA restaurant, she had to scratch and claw her way to the top. She deserved the magazine covers and Larry King interviews.
But the advent of reality television created a shift in our self-perceptions. Self-aggrandizing narcissism in today’s world started with COPS. Drunk, stoned or plain ol’ morons would do something stupid and then sign a waiver so they could say, “Look maw! I’m on the TV!”
Narcissism spiraled out of control. We are on a collision course with shameful, embarrassing vanity. History will see us as conceited fools. Exhibitionism has led us down a road called We Believe We Are More Important Than We Really Are.
During a visit with my mom and a friend, the topic of Facebook came up. Now I’m all about Facebook. I love to keep in touch with old friends and former colleagues. However, mom’s conversation revolved around the status update and its pointlessness.
She asked, “Why do people think that every daily transaction is profound enough to share?” It seems like Facebook is more for young people, she said, who have an oversized sense of self-importance.
At first, I denied this theory. That’s not true. I have interesting things to share on Facebook! Things people care about! Things the world needs to know, dammit! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right. It is kind of stupid.
I know it’s hard to hear. Just a few weeks ago, I thought it was awesome, too. But it’s kind of … shallow. Ask yourself, really, who gives a shit if you’re going to Happy Hour tonight? Does Lorna, my sixth grade friend, need to know?
Your six hundred friends don’t need to know the minutia of your life.
You joined to follow Ashton Kutcher. That’s cool; I follow “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. For ages, people told me to join Twitter to promote my book (by the way, buy my book, It’s a Miracle They Ain’t Dead Yet.) But I thought Twitter was a waste of time.
Say you follow 1,000 people and @KennethSuna is one of them. Chances are you will never see my tweets. I used to say, “Twitter is stupid. No one cares what I had for lunch today.” (Then I found myself guilty of tweeting whenever I went to Chipotle.) What would I tweet, anyway? Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book! That’s annoying.
But then something happened. I had an overwhelming desire to share things. I thought I had to tweet to keep my name out there. Sometimes tweets were relevant (“New article published at Primer Magazine! Check it out!”), but other times …
Did I really believe people cared about this shit? I don’t think so. Wanna know why? Because if I were you, I wouldn’t care what Kenneth Suna had to say either.
Twitter makes you feel like your voice is heard on a global platform. A hot political story? Everyone adds a witty joke about Senator Weiner’s #weiner. We rush back every ten minutes to see if someone retweeted our comment.
An important tweet below is lost in a sea of:
- My pen broke and leaked ink on my favorite shirt!
- I told the guy no cheese, so WHY IS THERE CHEESE ON MY SANDWICH!?
- My house burnt down. Four years of memories. Gone.
- This guy just ran a red light! Now the guy behind me is honking! Yeah, green. I see it!
- The barista said the tea was hot, but shit, this is super hot! OMG, I burnt my tongue.
To illustrate, as of this writing, my last tweet: “My car is in the shop. I’m driving a rental Prius. Not really for me. I want a ’70 Chevelle.”
You know why no one responded or retweeted? Because the world doesn’t care about what I’m driving. And that’s how the world should be.
Ahhh, the king of website narcissism. YouTube: A place where everyone can be an Internet sensation! It’s easy. Go to McDonald’s, do a funny dance as your buddy films and uploads it to YouTube. Share your video on Twitter and Facebook and hope the world watches. They won’t, because you’re not a celebrity. You’re just some guy dancing in line at McDonald’s hoping that a network exec sees your video and gives you a TV show.
Back in the day, like, before I was born, when people hoped to get discovered, they had to go to Open Mic nights and bust their ass. If they sucked, the crowd booed. I bet Adam Sandler bombed on his first night. But he probably asked, “Do I believe in myself? Can I hone my craft and return next week?” Today, it’s too easy. Just turn your webcam on, fold your stomach fat in half, draw eyeballs over your nipples and dance. Mean comments can simply be deleted.
I understand some people willingly embarrass themselves: They’re obese, dancing in their underwear knowing that they will be teased. I guess that’s their gimmick. They hope their fat and lack of talent propels them to fame.
Yeah, I know there are a few sensations thanks to YouTube. I’ve probably watched their videos. Maybe I even laughed. But the odds of that happening to us are slim to none.
Think before you act is a common cliché, but … think before you act. More than half the videos, status updates, and tweets are a waste of time for your followers. But in this day and age where, thanks to the Internet and cell phones with social networking abilities, everyone feels like they deserve their fifteen minutes. The parents who filmed their nine-year-old son singing Bad Romance into a rotten banana in his Mickey Mouse t-shirt should know that this video will be available forever. That kid will eventually turn fourteen. Anderson Cooper is trying very hard to put a stop to bullying. You’re just encouraging it.
We know we have a problem with Facebook and Twitter when the girl who went shopping at Sephora got 404,602 views. We need to refocus our priorities if something happens and our first thought is, “This needs to be a status update.”