A new type of monster

Picture the scene: it’s the summer holidays, in the centre of town. Teenagers are laughing and joking with each other, high-fiving and smacking each other on the back to show appreciation of their shared humour. They sit, sharing a bag of chips and a can of coke, pushing the limits of their curfew before running to get the last bus home. They shake hands, or hug, planning to meet again the following evening – they have to plan ahead, as none of them have any way to contact each other apart from when they’re out together.

Sound familiar? Unless you’re old enough to remember the eighties and early nineties, probably not.

Fast forward to 2014, and it’s a whole different ball game. In fact, forget ball games – unless we’re talking about FIFA 15, it’s unlikely that kids these days actually realise that there’s such a thing as an actual, physical ball that teens of the past used to kick around crowded playing fields.

Thanks to the invention of social media, which is available on almost every device we own (who the fuck needs Facebook on their TV anyway?) we don’t have to see real people any more. We can chat all day and night if we want to, without having to leave our chair. We don’t have to live great, exciting lives, because all we have to do is post a status saying how great our lives are and everyone believes it. How easy is that?

When social media was born, people saw it as a fantastic way to stay in touch with long lost friends and relatives. What they didn’t realise is that some people are better off ‘long lost’. What about that ex best friend who’s now married to the ex love-of-your-life? Do you really need that rubbing against your face? That favourite primary school teacher who turns out to be a bit of a creep, and posts photos that barely cover his modesty after a few beers on a weeknight. Remember your Auntie Mary, who you saw once a year? How old is she now, 80? Are you enjoying seeing her flirt shamelessly and openly with your friends? When did it become okay to communicate like buddies with people a quarter of your age who’ve you’ve never met?

And social media has created whole new breeds of human: the keyboard warriors and the over-sharers. These are the types of people who post things without engaging their brains (man have keyboard, man no need brain) and then end up posting again complaining about how their first post was received. Not well, usually.

Keyboard warriors will complain about anything and everything. Fallen out with a friend? Facebook needs to know about it. Had a shit day? Facebook needs to know about it. And the best thing is, if you fancy a bit of attention, all you have to do is post “SO FUCKING ANNOYED!!!!!!!!” and you’re sure to get messages asking what’s up. Sometimes from people you don’t even know.

But fear not – you can be cool about this. Keep your dignity intact. Simply reply, “nothing, I’m fine”, oh man of mystery. Seriously, why post in the first place if you’re going to do that?

And nothing can start an argument better than an ambiguous status. I was once on the receiving end of this after posting a “so annoyed” status (my toaster had broken – yep, that’s all). A girl actually sent me a message asking whether my status was about her. I hadn’t spoken to her since 1993. She got quite upset about it, and ended up blocking and deleting me. She was a social-media-born drama queen so it was probably no bad thing, though I do find myself wondering what she’s having for dinner from time to time.

The over-sharers. Oh, sweet night, the over-sharers. When I was a child, if I’d wanted to show 900 people what I was having for dinner, the stamps would have set me back a bob or two. But social media has unleashed a new type of monster. Showing people your plate (they usually look shit) now takes a split second, as does showing people your new car, new hair, new boobs. Oh good.

We don’t need to know how much you’re studying, when you’re going to the gym (typing it does not mean you’re ‘ripped’, guys), when you’re using the bathroom or how often you wank. Some things are better kept private, for the good of us all.

Fair enough, social networking has its benefits. If I want to tell everyone that someone’s a twat, it’s much easier. But, in turn, does that make me a twat? Does that make me just as bad as them? Am I ‘one-of-them’? Please no. I’m getting out while I still can, while my reputation and sanity is, on the whole, intact.

That broken toaster was really fucking annoying though.

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