A Catalogue of Connected Jerks
You may be familiar with the Mitch Albom book The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Well, this column is like that, in the sense that I’ll describe five people. However, these people are right here on Earth, and you probably know them. In fact, you might be one them—one of the Five Annoying People You’ll Meet on Social Media.
The Facebook “Please Ask Me to Elaborate” Friend
The other day, my wife and I were arguing about whether teeth are bones. Heather said that skeletons have teeth, and thus, teeth are bones. I replied that skeletons also have hair, but that doesn’t mean that hair is made of bone. She contended that skeletons don’t have hair, at which point I invoked the Crypt Keeper from Tales From the Crypt. “That guy was a skeleton,” I said. “And he had tons of hair.”
Crypt Keeper had hair therefore teeth are not bones. I rest my case, your honor. Sometimes I think the legal world really missed out when I was discouraged from attending law school due to my “bad grades,” “horrible LSAT score” and “criminal record.”
Anyway, if I were to post the above anecdote on Facebook, I’d write it pretty much as I did here. The “Please Ask Me to Elaborate” people, though, will never simply tell you what’s happening. They want you to unravel the mystery one comment at a time because obviously their lives are a rich tapestry of drama and intrigue, such that you will postpone eating and sleeping and bathing until you learn what treacherous villainy prompted the posting of a lone frowny emoticon.
Here’s a typical post by the Ask Me to Elaborate Person: “Worst day ever and you know why. If I ever see you at that certain place, you know what’ll happen and how. :(.”
The LinkedIn Requester
No offense if you’ve asked me to connect on LinkedIn, but I’m not on LinkedIn. I honestly know nothing about it and have never been to the site, but I imagine LinkedIn being the BlackBerry of social media sites—like Facebook but without any fun. In any case, a social media site doesn’t become interesting to me until people use it to mistakenly post photos of their genitals. And as far as I know, that hasn’t yet happened on LinkedIn. Maybe someone should send Brett Favre an invite.
The Skype Caller
Skype makes you look like a deformed troll unless you manage to get your computer above your face and at least three feet away, in which case you’re thinking way too hard about Skype. Basically, I will go out of my way not to Skype if there’s any possible alternative. I’d rather incur an international roaming charge from the jungles of Borneo than have the person on the other end see what I look like from a low angle and lit solely by a laptop screen. In a police lineup, if one of the suspects was on Skype you’d always pick that one as the murderer.
The Twitter Lingo’er
For the Twitter Lingo’er, each tweet crams the maximum amount of communication into 140 characters. There are no actual words, merely symbols, runes and Bitly links. The current world champion lingo’er is a nine-year-old Malaysian prodigy who successfully transmitted Voltaire’s Candide in a single tweet.
The Conspiracy Theorist
As a member of the so-called mainstream media, these are the people I revile the most. My colleagues and I go to great lengths to suppress information, and then these people come along and blow our cover. Here I am, doing my best to keep the public ignorant, and then some whistleblower ruins all my work with a Facebook post entitled, “Why wasn’t this on the news?!” We journalists, keepers of the News, would have you think that your story wasn’t on CNN merely because it didn’t happen, but you know better. The reason you’re hearing that spellbinding tale of heroism/protest/political malfeasance via your friend Scabby instead of from Brian Williams is because your friend Scabby isn’t afraid of the truth. And Brian Williams obviously is.
All professional journalists know that the only proven, reliable source of fact-checked news is Facebook. Look, a lot of those posts originally came from other websites! People don’t just set up websites to spread falsehoods. Except for the ones at Snopes. They’re obviously paid to say that Scabby’s story about the four-year-old Texas boy fighting off an invading Mexican drug cartel contains a shred of truth only if you read it as an extremely loose retelling of the Battle of San Jacinto.
Conspiracy theorists, there’s a special place for people like you. And that place is LinkedIn.