Welcome to the future where your Holiday mischief and mishaps run the risk of trending on Twitter, bringing joy to the masses and/or ruin to your life.
Be warned, kids– this year and every year moving forward, Santa’s not the only one making lists.
In fact he’s joined by BuzzFeed all the time.
NOTHING IS SAFE!
With great power comes great responsibility so this holiday season I leave you with two examples of competing and divergent paths that you can take with your newly realized prowess.
You can harness it to bring laughter and joy to the world– vis-à-vis Steve Kardynal’s Chatroulette rendition of Mariah Carey’s classic All I want for Christmas Is You – OR you can neglect it and watch your comically insensitive and ill-worded tweet about AIDS go super viral and cost you your job vis-à-vis this:
BuzzFeed has a timeline of the events comprising the latter. By the time Justine actually got to Africa 13 hours later her tweet (and #hasjustinelanded yet, the hashtag sparked by the tweet) was not only trending but her now former employer had already contacted the reporter who “broke the story” with a comment.
The evolution of the Tweet is truly spectacular with hashtags and what not providing us with the ability to see where and how the snowball developed. Recall that Justine’s about as famous as you and I are. She just had a Twitter account and therefore she’s a person with the power to reach more people. In that regard she’s no different than Chatroulette Steve. As of this writing Steve’s Chatroulette Merry Christmas Card has already amassed over 5 million views.
If you’re reading this then you too are a person with the power to reach more people.
Yet I can’t help but feel, jokes aside there’s something both tremendously wonderful and perpetually sad about being a person with the power to reach more people.
Mistakes happen– and this mistake cost Justine her job. It’s funny to read about “What was she thinking!”, but can’t you also imagine a reality where her tweet was just another desperate attempt for some retweets fueled by the desire to be acknowledged? It was gross but was that part intended?
We’re all conditioned to refresh our feeds for new likes or comments or shares. If nobody did any of those things then did they see it? Did we get noticed? Do we matter?
We hope to make a difference or a dent and we’re afforded all these tools that allow us to keep track of how big of a dent and a difference we’re actually making, in real time.
Who cares how many followers you have, you never know where it could go and how many people could see it!
We’re all people with the power to reach more people!
We want to be heard and appreciated and frankly loved and once you get there the maintenance required is exhausting!
If a tragedy occurs and you don’t acknowledge it or say something uplifting and sincere– does it make you less sympathetic, empathetic and a part of the process of mourning that tragedy? If a Holiday comes and you don’t extend your warmest wishes to all your followers, friends and fans, does it make them any less in your thoughts and hopes and prayers? If you don’t participate in celebrating or opining or piling on to the latest twitter hashtag then does that make you any less present in the world?
We try to “unplug” when we’re with our friends and families, but even then our cell phones are just an arms reach away from capturing the next viral Instagram picture or a stranger away from live tweeting the latest holiday debacle. We might even resort to outright making shit up with only the slightest chance of internet fame as incentive.
Asinine things happen on the Internet every day, but every once in a while a thing will result in a THING which will result in a book deal. Same goes for random acts of kindness and attempts at capturing and sharing magic.
If it’s not retweeted dozens of times does it even matter?
Did it even happen!?
Welcome to the future.
Louis CK (aka one of my favorite human beings on the planet) had this to say about cell phones earlier this year and it feels particularly applicable:
You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something- that’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. Like this. That’s being a person, right? No one can- ugh- they’ve gotta check because underneath everything in your life there’s that thing that empty, forever empty. You know what I’m talking about? Just that knowledge that it’s all for nothing and you’re a lone, it’s down there. And sometimes when things clear away, you’re not watching it, you’re in your car and it starts to visit on you- just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it. And so you’re driving and then you go uhhh- that’s why we text and drive. I look around and pretty much 100% of people are texting and everybody’s murdering everyone with their cars. But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be a lone for a second.
He goes on to say that sadness is poetic, that you’re lucky to feel sad.
Not everybody is having a joyous holiday season. Shit happens and sometimes it feels better to just be online and not be alone with our own shit. That said, I can’t help but feel the over saturation of shit everywhere contributes to that dynamic. Simple things are taken for granted. Simple pleasures. You can’t just enjoy a moment for yourself. Quiet moments force us to face ourselves– so we gift wrap our lives and continuously give the specifics to strangers and friends a like.
Did they like it?
Oh good, they liked it!
Unless they don’t. Unless a post goes unshared and a joke goes unretweeted. Then what?
I’m not sure what I think about any of this beyond knowing that I’m guilty of participating in it.
It feels good when lots of people like and comment but then that good feeling comes from something outward.
Perhaps having the power to reach more people renders us powerless in some ways. Perhaps it ensures that we’re all at the whims of each other. If that’s the case, then perhaps we could try a little harder to be good to each other. Maybe we could even do it offline.
Additionally, maybe this Holiday season we might all try a little harder to just appreciate the feelings that come with living and breathing and being human. To appreciate our moments without turning them all into a spectacle.
But then again, what do I know.
What do you think?
Feel free to sound off with your thoughts in the comments.