Sean Beckwith: Don’t strain those social media muscles
August 21, 2018
I used to think the worst part of Facebook was people updating you about their day. "It's taco Tuesday!!!" "Going to work on a Monday like *enter outdated meme here.*" "On my way to the gym to get those reps in!" "Here's a picture of my ultrasound!" However, I find myself yearning for those slightly not-as-bad times.
Facebook's new algorithm, as far as I can tell, promotes content to get clicks. Share all the useless personal tidbits you want, but make sure they're attached to a conspiracy theory of your political party's choice to boost likes and attract trolls. There's nothing like a good Facebook back-and-forth with your uncle to make you want to create a virus to destroy a social media platform.
The Aspen Times had to ban a person from being able to comment on social media posts for excessive and constant insults and foul language. Think about that. You wake up, open Facebook and proceed to vomit hatred all over a local newspaper's story about hiking Lost Man in order to … what? Give me an endgame. I mean, did they think their barbs were that well-thought-out that the paper was going to cede the editor's position to a troll?
"Oh my lord, this gentleman's comment is so profound. Let's get him on staff."
People, myself included, get these social media muscles and throw mud back and forth until one person's argument — right or wrong — incites digital dragon breath. I once argued with a random Philadelphia 76ers fan on Twitter over The Process, thinking that I was going to alter @sixerssuperfan into acknowledging that tanking is soulless. It's one of the most ludicrous endeavors I've ever spent an hour trying to accomplish.
From a life spent growing up with AIM, MySpace, chat rooms, Facebook and all the other online trends I've developed a personal code to make social media less dire — even if the current political discourse douses Twitter and Facebook in blood every five minutes.
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Keep it light: If the intended purpose is to connect online, maybe don't open up with deep topics. I logged on to complain about sports or post a picture of a dog. Revelatory text-on-photo posts with takes on the meaning of life absconded from philosophers isn't that profound when you're reading it on the john. That, and your Goethe quote actually came from a fortune cookie.
Don't be the guy who makes you regret reading the comments: Commenting on someone's post other than to provide support or light-hearted mockery is how you become a troll. If you follow ESPN and they tweet a stat about the dominance of the Golden State Warriors, don't retort "F— you, LeBron is the GOAT. Durant is a p—- a– b—-." You can rip the Warriors, and I encourage it, but do so creatively.
Like, "I'll only respect Durant when he has as many titles as Twitter accounts."
Don't argue with people you know: The main reason I avoid debating with family and friends is because there are no win-win solutions. You aren't going to get people you know to flip political parties over lunch. If you have such indomitable rage over Donald Trump's new tax break for big-game hunters, maybe think about ways you could help wildlife. Would you rather donate $5 to WWE or get told to f— off by that friend you haven't seen since high school?
You can still talk politics but a face-to-face conversation stays civil longer due to the ability to decipher someone's tone, body language or other communication factor. Not only is sarcasm nearly impossible to pick up via text but there also are no flexing of social media might. I believe this is the case because to it's easier to admit you're wrong without an audience.
Respect your time: This applies to far more than tired discourse. If you're at a concert, take enough pictures to get a couple good ones. Streaming unintelligible music from the nosebleed section is a waste of your time and everyone dumb enough to watch your video. I have a friend who would take pictures of his cat on Snapchat and then draw a costume on her. It took an average of an hour for a post that's designed to disappear after viewing.
Checking your phone at work? All day, everyday. Checking your phone on the golf course? Sure, if you like running after the cart. DMV? Without question. Midway down Spar Gulch? Nope. Gondola? Of course.
I'm not sure if Facebook is worth or even capable of being saved at this point. The constant stream of videos that other people liked or shared became insufferable seemingly overnight. If I wasn't required to have an account for work, I would delete it today — which would be my overarching advice to you. Decide whether the headache of never-ending bickering is a worthy price of admission for baby photos. If not, perhaps give Instagram a try?
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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