Editor’s note: we wanted to cap off this ridiculous year by inviting a guest writer to comment on the state of things today, in particular, outrage culture on social media and bullshit in general.
I have been at the point of madness over something silly, stupid and pointless. I can’t shake it. For three days now, I’ve wanted to throw my phone from somewhere high.
The first day this occurred, I had decided to take an escalator upstairs at the mall where my comic shop is located. I wanted to stretch my legs and watch people scurry below. Yet, when standing from my high point, overlooking the Disney store, I wanted to fling my phone out. I could see my Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus flipping end over end, falling down from on high, in a crowded mall, and smashing into the floor below. A loud crack, then the screen would shatter. A spider web fracturing across its surface. Then the frame would break. Tiny fragments of glass would cascade out in various directions. Shocked faces would glance around before looking up to see me laughing maniacally.
Three full days of this. Once at the mall, once on top of a parking garage, once driving over a bridge, every night as I climbed the steps to my bedroom.
I even dreamt about standing on top of Coit Tower in San Francisco and chucking my top of the line in cellular technology, down onto the city below.
What brought on this lunacy? Starbucks, of course.
I was standing in a Starbucks, waiting for my grande iced vanilla latte, gazing around a crowded room and feeling alone. Every face peering down at a bright screen. Every neck cocked, fingers pecking glass. Folks around me were checking emails, watching the stock market, laughing at memes or re-sharing digital activism. The zombie apocalypse arrived years ago but, the CDC never had a contingency plan for cell phones.
I’m not sure when, but at some point in the digital age, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of bullshit. I used to love feeling connected. I could call anyone around the world, view webcams of surfers on waves in Hawaii, get news updates from China and all from the comfort of my own home… If any of those things were my thing.
Were my habits any better than the rest of mankind? No. I viewed reviews of open source software, folks streaming video games, wrap-ups on Japanese stationery, crime dramas, and porn… miles of porn. My interests are shotgunned oddities that are often determined by whatever is trending on Youtube.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying not to judge the rest of the world as weird when I know I’m part of the problem. Still, everything feels dark and canted these days. We ignore soldiers, doctors, and teachers who sacrifice pay and sanity, every single day and instead champion reality tv stars. People scream and shout when they encounter these folks in the real world. cheering while celebrating the worst human beings, behaving in the most awful of ways.
We fling ourselves across social media fads. Announcing internet flavors of the week, all the while, pretending that internet activism is real activism. Homeless folks are suffering in the streets, and if we post about it, then we’re helping them. We’re handing out awareness and surely not just giving a placebo to our soul, right? Too often for me, it feels like some folks are excusing the need for actual activism in a world that is crowded and cold. Internet activism is the floppiest dong of the digital age.
Then, of course, there’s outrage. Social media is a breeding ground for it. There is plenty of things to be legitimately outraged about in our society. From shitty politics to racism and antisemitism, all the things that should be long gone in the digital age. We should be head and shoulders above this shit. This is stuff worthy of outrage! Instead, folks are upset over dated Christmas songs, and Elf on the Shelf traumatizing kids. That was just this week. People are chomping at the bit to seethe over nonsense, not because they assume there is malicious intent involved but because any attention is good attention… right? I want my 15 seconds of Instagram fame over some dad-joke about a guy’s name being “Hugh Mungus.” Lock that pervert up for shitty jokes. Just make sure you give me those fucking clicks for my online cliques. Like/re-share if you’re outraged.
The real problem with victim-hood as a culture is it drowns out the voices of actual folks who need to be heard. As a society we’re over-medicated, the entertainment is mind-numbing, and we’re desperately seeking attention by shaming others. It’s one part Orwell and one part Huxley and all dystopia.
So I don’t know where it all went wrong. I’m not sure where I began to drown. The French have a term for that strange urge, to leap to your death off of something high. It’s called, “The Call of the Void.” I have no idea what the cell phone equivalent of it is, I just know I have this constant urge to fling my phone from something high. I want to watch it come crashing down. I want to cast off the most significant leash of the digital age.