Tag Archives: Twitter

Further Thoughts On Social Networking

I recently published a post about my motivations for deleting my Twitter account.  In that post, I mentioned that I had some bones to pick with Facebook, but I was saving them for a future entry.

Well, this is that entry.

I have a real love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I’ve talked about this a little bit in my stand-up performances.  It has its benefits, but it also has its downfalls.  Facebook is actually worse than Twitter in various ways (including those that drove me to delete my Twitter page), but I felt like I could sacrifice my Twitter profile in spite of the necessity of promoting my stand-up comedy.  Facebook, on the other hand, is a necessary evil.  I can’t not have one in this day and age.  I do love it because it makes promoting my stand-up SO much easier, and it is a good way to keep in touch with geographically distant friends.  But there are several things regarding Facebook that I feel the need to discuss.

First, my profile (the link to which can be found on the right side of this blog).  As of this writing, I have roughly 700 friends on Facebook, which is a complete lie.  I don’t have 700 friends.  Do you have 700 friends?  Who the fuck has 700 friends?  If I’m being generous, I have maybe 10 actual friends.  Who are the other 690?  I don’t know.  I couldn’t even make up 700 fake names if I tried.

I’ll tell you about something I did the other day.  Maybe you’ve experienced it, too.  I was browsing around random profiles on Facebook, and then I stumbled upon someone who only had 17 friends.  Have you ever had that moment where you find someone like that on Facebook, and your first reaction is, “What a fuckin’ loser THIS guy is!  He’s only got 17 friends?!  Hey, all 942 of my bullshit friends: look at this fuckin’ loser over here with only 17 friends!  How does he live, man?!”  How does he live?  Well, for starters: he fucking LIVES.  He’s not sitting around on Facebook all day acquiring friends.  He’s being realistic with his social circles.  If we were all realistic with our social circles, we’d all have 17 friends, too.

Of course, Facebook encourages social networking.  Whatever the hell that is.  It’s a bullshit phrase.  Social networking is basically the online equivalent of passing someone on the street and going, “Hey.”  But Facebook encourages finding new people to connect with online.  For instance, one of the features they have for finding new friends is a page called People You May Know.  Personally, I think the page should have a different name: People You’ve Never Fuckin’ Heard Of.  Because that’s all I ever get.  Every time I go to that page, I find myself asking, “Who the fuck are you people?!”  Sometimes I’ll go to the person’s profile, and it will say we have five mutual friends.  Then I’ll click on the five mutual friends and go, “Who the fuck are these people, too?!”  How can I possibly know you when I don’t know the people I know, who also know you, you know?

That’s the thing that bugs me the most about Facebook: none of us know anybody.  Everyone has hundreds of friends that they don’t talk to; that they will probably NEVER talk to.  I once got a message from a guy whom I had one or two classes with in high school.  We weren’t good friends back then, and I don’t recall us ever really talking that much.  But this guy sent me a message saying, “Hey man, you wanna get together sometime and catch up?”

And I thought, “Catch up?  Dude, we didn’t BEGIN.”  What exactly are we catching up from when we never even got started?  Let’s say, for the hell of it, that we DID end up getting together somewhere.  The moment in the conversation where I say, “Excuse me, I gotta go to the restroom,” and then run out the front door—that’s called speeding ahead.  And I call it that to keep him from catching up to me.

Facebook, like its other social networking brethren, is ridiculously addictive and time-consuming.  I spend too much time on Facebook.  I’m trying to curb my use, but it’s especially hard for me because I talk to people more on Facebook than I do elsewhere.  I know that’s kinda sad but it’s the truth, because I lead a pretty solitary existence as it is.  A lot of people spend too much time on there without realizing it.  Here’s an easy way to determine if you spend too much time on Facebook: have you ever ALMOST picked up a hitchhiker, just to have someone to talk to?  If you’ve ever had that moment, then maybe you should stop spending so much time on Facebook.

Although, to be fair, that would make a KILLER status update.

Until next time,

–Riley

Why I Quit Twitter

Last night, I deleted my Twitter account.

The genesis for the idea spawned from a discussion with a friend about Twitter and its current influence over our lives.  We both had signed up to Twitter for mainly the same reason: self-promotion.  He’s a writer on a few literary websites; I’m a stand-up comic who occasionally writes drivel like this—and we wanted another place for us to promote our respective creative wares.

Over the course of time, however, we realized that instead of using Twitter constructively to promote our endeavors, we had fallen into the trap of using Twitter more as a distraction FROM our creativity.  I know this all too well because I have a habit of getting addicted to technology, much to the detriment of my general productivity.  And lately, I’ve been beginning to resent those things (and myself) for letting them suck me in the way that they have.  I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I’ve spent on all these social networking sites that could have instead been spent working on my craft.

The unfortunate thing about the way the world works now, though, is that I still need to keep my feet in the digital ocean if I want to get anywhere with my craft.  I can’t rely on simply word-of-mouth, but I don’t want to be so focused on promotion that I neglect my creative process.  Yet I still HAVE to have some sort of presence in the electronic world in order to gain any traction.  However, I can still take my life back from the machines to a certain extent, to paraphrase my friend, and I realized that I don’t need a Twitter account anymore.

It’s amazing how something so pointless can simultaneously be so dangerous.  I knew I was addicted to Twitter once I started using it from my phone, which was dangerous.  Because at that point, everything I experienced had to be filtered into thoughts of up to 140 characters.  Instead of just taking things in for what they are, I would constantly ask myself, “Is this tweetable?  Is this tweetworthy?” No, I’m just being an obsessive-compulsive narcissistic twit.  It’s ridiculous.

Twitter gave me OCD.  I never really had it that bad until I started using Twitter.  Here’s an easy way to determine if you have Twitter-induced OCD: if you ever have that moment where you suddenly realize, “Holy shit: I haven’t tweeted in FOUR HOURS!  I must parlay some new piece of digital brilliance into the vast ether, lest I become irrelevant!” then you’ve got it.  If the timeframe gets shorter (“TWO HOURS”) then you’ve got it REALLY bad.

In addition to OCD, it also feeds into your narcissism.  If you’ve never been a self-centered person, Twitter will make you one.  Even the terminology feeds into narcissism: on Twitter, you don’t have friends like you do on Facebook.  You have “followers,” like you’re some fuckin’ cult leader all of a sudden.  Yeah, let me guess—the Brotherhood of What-I’m-Having-For-Dinner.  All it does is give you a major ego trip.  Nobody gives a fuck what you have to say.  Nobody’s ever going to be like, “Oh my God, Riley hasn’t tweeted all day—call the cops!  He’s been KIDNAPPED!  We need a search party out on this guy!”

So, I’ve given up on Twitter.  I still have a Facebook page, and won’t be getting rid of it anytime soon.  I don’t have much of a choice with that, and I don’t mind it most of the time.  I do have some annoyances with Facebook, but I’m saving those for another entry.  I still have a MySpace, for reasons unbeknownst to even God himself.  Have you been around THERE lately?  Jesus Christ.  What a sad, pathetic wasteland that place has become.  I came up with an interesting analogy for the three major social networking sites recently:

- Twitter is like the young, hot 20-year-old who’s good for a short fling
– Facebook is like the more mature 30-year-old who knows what the fuck’s going on, and is in it for the long-term
– And MySpace is like the 40-and-older cougar crowd for when you wanna make some horrible life decisions

To be fair, I do still use MySpace on rare occasion.  I literally only use it to post bulletins about upcoming important shows, and it has worked in the last couple of months to bring out a few people to those shows whom I otherwise wouldn’t have reached.  That’s nice, and Twitter was good for that occasionally, but then I realized that 95% of the people who follow me there (and who aren’t random-ass spam accounts) were already my friends on Facebook, so why even bother with it?

Thus, I’ve pared my social networking activity down to solely Facebook, with the occasional MySpace binge when promoting shows, and this blog (which really isn’t a social networking site, and it can be used constructively).  I think that that’s about the most minimal I can get without completely eschewing technology altogether, which is pretty much impossible nowadays.  To paraphrase my friend again, it kind of makes me feel like Sarah Connor from the Terminator films, which is a pretty cool way to look at it.

Too bad I can’t re-tweet it.

Until next time,

–Riley

The Troll-volution

When I set up this blog, one of my first entries detailed a brief history of a group of guys I went to high school with who like to make parodies of my stand-up videos.  As I said in that post, I do enjoy the videos themselves.  But lately, I’m beginning to grow tired of the attitudes surrounding them.  I post videos of my stand-up on the internet mainly so that my friends and family have a chance to watch my performances.  I’m lucky enough to have a base of people who are supportive of my endeavors, so I don’t mind sharing it with them.  What I do mind is the ridiculous “internet commenter culture” that my videos are occasionally subjected to.  Especially when they are expanding from simple mean video comments to unprovoked skirmishes elsewhere on the web.

I’ve been around the digital block a few times.  I’ve been a member at several internet forums over the years.  I understand how the game works.  Somebody posts something the other members don’t like, and then the other members bombard that user with insane over-the-top insults and/or threats.  It’s not necessarily meant to be taken literally or seriously most of the time—at times it’s hilarious reading how far people will go to ridicule the offending user.  There are some users, called “trolls,” whose sole purpose is to hate everyone and everything and act accordingly.

YouTube, where most of my stand-up videos are located, follows a similar formula in the comments section.  Go look at any really popular YouTube video, and you’ll read thousands of generic comments.  Sometimes within those generic comments (“omg so funny!!”), you’ll find tangents of these inane arguments between users. (They can be most commonly found in the comments sections of music videos, because internet forum users are HUGE music snobs of all kinds.  Basically it amounts to this: whoever your favorite band is sucks.  And even if your favorite band also happens to be my favorite band, you suck for liking them so much and then the band sucks for appealing to the person you hate for liking them.) The overall demeanor of all of these internet forum users—these trolls—is that what they say is gospel, and no matter what kind of simple logic, reasoning, or truth you display in front of them, you are still wrong and they are still right.  You can’t win against these guys.

I know that’s a lot of general information, but that’s because I need to provide a background for what I’m about to discuss.

As I said, I have videos of my stand-up on YouTube.  They are open for public viewing, so anyone can go watch them.  And I know that doing that can be risky, because it opens those videos up to scrutiny from the aforementioned trolls, whose standards are so impeccably high that no matter how good those videos are or ever will be, it won’t be good enough to satisfy them.  And they WILL let you know that.  Here is a list of comments I’ve received on my various stand-up videos (quoted verbatim):

“this is the worst shit i have ever seen in my fucking life.  kill yourself.”
“youre terrible.”
“not funny at all.”
“stop being so bad.”
“i hate you.”
“so racist…fuking bastard”
“Oh, Riley, I know you won’t have to worry about having sex.  Ever.  His jokes are a lot like AIDS, in the ideal that you’re slowly dieing painfully as it gets worse. Only with AIDS you’ll at least die at the end and all the suffering will be over.”

The last one was posted by a user named AssassinTheHasson.  When I received his comment, I discovered that he was connected to the guys who made the parody videos mentioned at the top of this post.  He’d left another similar comment on the parody video.  I left a comment in response saying that I enjoyed the parody videos (though the ad hominem video comments were a bit excessive).  He left a short retort a little while after, and I figured the damage was done.  He made his point about hating me, and I played the diplomat and moved on.  Fine.

Then yesterday, on Twitter, I was subjected to another troll skirmish connected to the same circle of people behind the parodies.  After a few back-and-forth exchanges (which I won’t quote here just because this entry is long enough, and you can click on the link to my Twitter page to see my half of the dialogue), I finally asked the guy directly: why do they have this weird internet “vendetta” against me?  And he never responded.  This pissed me off.

I understand that not everyone likes me or will like me as a comedian (or even just as a general person).  But if someone genuinely dislikes my comedy, why would they insist on continually pestering me about it for no reason?  Because I don’t personally make THEM laugh?  Fine: fuck ‘em.  If I don’t make ‘em laugh, then they should quit wasting their time with me and go find somebody who DOES make them laugh.  Their lives will be better enriched for it.  Besides, who the fuck are they, anyway?  A bunch of bored internet nerds with nothing better to do than hide behind cool-sounding aliases to generate an alter-ego that allows them the power to anonymously criticize a person from a safe distance, and who have likely never gone onstage to perform within the artform that I’m creating my niche in, therefore giving them no knowledge of the inner workings of the craft?  Fuck ‘em.

I’m not going for the whole indignant posturing, “oh, look at me and how great I am” thing with this.  Nor am I trying to sound bitchy.  And I’m not ironically posting my own distant criticism, either—I wouldn’t have any problem saying any of that to their faces. (I go onstage and say all kinds of things to people’s faces, so believe me when I say I could handle it.)  My problem is with the crossing of the line between poking gentle fun and unwarranted total animosity.

And if they end up finding this (which I’m sure they will), reading it, and laughing at it, then fine—it just means I finally made them laugh at something I said, which means I win.

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

Until next time,

–Riley

The End Of Civilization As We Know It

Imagine a world without Twitter and Facebook.

Go ahead, give it a shot.

For a few hours earlier this morning, we were forced to do just that.  Twitter was (and as of this writing, still is dealing with the remnants of being) attacked by hackers in an attempt to launch a “denial of service” ambush.  Denial of service basically translates to overloading the servers with so much traffic that the targeted site crashes and burns forever.  In this case, the main target was Twitter, with other sites like Facebook and LiveJournal catching some of the collateral damage.

It was amazing.  I read a story about the attacks later in the morning on one of the major news network’s websites (I’ll give you a hint: it begins with a C and ends with an NN), which described users’ inability to keep up with what was going on in the world due to the outages.

That’s kind of a weird thing for a fucking NEWS NETWORK to say.  Re-read that last paragraph carefully, and you’ll see that CNN essentially rendered themselves obsolete by stating that user-driven sites like Twitter and Facebook are better for keeping up with to-the-minute news updates than the news networks themselves.  Instead of giving the article a title about the attacks on Twitter, why not just give it the headline: “NEWS NETWORKS BECOME IRRELEVANT?”

At the same time, to say that people had no access to breaking news through the brief downfall of Twitter and Facebook is kind of dubious at best, and downright insulting at worst.  I know we’re addicted to technology as a culture, but it’s not like if Twitter went away, people would be suddenly wandering the streets shouting, “OH, SHIT!  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!  I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS ANYMORE!”  There would still be plenty of avenues for people to take on the internet to find the events of the day.  Like, oh, I dunno—NEWS SITES.

Now, how do I feel about the whole thing?  I’m ambivalent, to be honest.  Twitter, as of this writing, still isn’t functioning correctly for me (it’s not posting any of my tweets).  But I’m not in some kind of crazy e-rage over it.  Granted, I have plenty of tweet-worthy thoughts swirling about in my head that I kinda wish I could broadcast to the world in a brief fit of narcissism, but whatever.  I’ll just wait it out.  Maybe something newsworthy will happen in Twitter’s absence, like the confirmation of the first Hispanic Supreme Court judge.

What?  That just happened a few minutes ago?  Well, I’ll be damned.  If only I had a user-generated up-to-the-minute source for news, I would have already known that…

OH, SHIT!  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!  I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS ANYMORE!

Until next time,

–Riley