I turn my laptop on in the morning already knowing that the battle continued raging even while I was asleep.  Indeed, shots were fired in the middle of the night.

“You have to ask yourself, are you here for the revolution?  Are you a revolutionary or what?”

I’m definitely a “what.”  And the correct category is…?

“Are you a patriot?  Are you fighting for liberty?  We are continuing our fight against the useless bureaucrats in D.C.”

“How can any liberal support Hillary?”

“How can any conservative support Kasich?”

“Bernie will smash the banks…”

“Trump will keep those illegals out…”

Remember when the Internet used to be all about posting pictures of babies, lunches and kittens?  Believe it or not, I really miss that time.

“You people are privileged and don’t know what it’s like to struggle…”

Hey, everyone!  Here’s a video of Chirpy!

“You people have never had a real job or paid taxes–you don’t what it’s like out there in the adult world…”

“Old and square…”

“Young and dumb…”

Chirpy is a parakeet.  He likes to play the synth…

“Racist…”

“Politically correct sheeple…”

“Fascist…”

“Communist…”

Watch him play the Game of Thrones theme!

“You Nazis should get sent to camps…”

He even whistles along!

“You SJWs should get shot into a ditch…”

And isn’t it hilarious how the cat is watching him from below?

Right?

Guys?

“Let’s burn everything down!”

“Let’s burn everything down!”

It’s not too late.  We don’t have to burn everything down.

 

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It happened just as I flopped down in my chair, ready to relax after a long day of work.  I had been looking forward to an hour or two of mindless social media scrolling.  My brain was in the process of shutting down already.

But then the phone rang.  I stared at the jangling beast angrily.  I never answered the phone anymore.  Who would be asking me for money now?

Going against my instincts, I picked it up.  “Hello?”

“Hey.”  It was a friend of mine.

“What’s up?”

“Why did you unfriend me?”

“What?”  What was she thinking asking me that question?  Didn’t she know that went against every rule of etiquette?

“I’m not an idiot.  I can see that you’re not on my friends list anymore.”

“It’s nothing personal!  It was a social score thing.”

“Oh, okay.  You’re right then, it wasn’t personal.”  Her tone was sarcastic.

“See, that’s the problem.  You’re way too sensitive about this stuff.  It’s only Facebook.  Jesus.”

“I don’t know.  You took it seriously enough to unfriend me.”

“Well, you keep posting political crap.  What’s the point of that anyway?  You know that arguing politics online is a waste of time.”

“Maybe…”  She hesitated.

“Look, I’m not going to tell you what to do with your life.  It’s your own business if you don’t care about your social score, but you’re bringing everybody else’s score down, too, because they’re friends with you.  You can’t blame people if they want to back off from that.”

“I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to do that to you.”

“There are only a gazillion other topics you could post about…your cats, your favorite restaurants.  Things you’d love to buy.  Those kinds of posts would make your friends happy, and they’re approved by Facebook.”

“You know that I do try to post updates about my life.”

“And that’s the other problem.  You’re way too negative.  Negativity brings your score down, too.  The last couple of updates you made were whiny.”

“I got fired from my job.  I wasn’t feeling very happy.”

“Do I have to explain the basics to you?  Just make sure to add something positive to your post to balance it out.  You know, say something like I feel kinda sad today because I was fired, but I know a much better job is just around the corner!”

“But I don’t think there is a better job around the corner.”

“You don’t really have to believe it.  Just stick it in at the end.  Everyone will get what you’re trying to do.”

“Sure.”  She sounded defeated.  “I don’t understand why we have to be so obsessed with our social scores.”

“Well, maybe you don’t care about getting discounts on your expenses, but I do.  Not everyone can afford to pay full price for everything.  It helps me out when my score adds up.  If it goes up by 200 more points, I can get a bigger TV.”

“Okay.  Congrats.  I’m happy for you.  I guess I’ll keep my opinions to myself from now on.”

“Social media just isn’t the place for them.  You can tell people your opinions face to face.”

“But we never talk in person anymore.”

“Erm…”  I had no idea how to reply to that.  I squirmed in my chair, trying to come up with some pleasant but noncommittal answer.

But I didn’t need to.  There was only a disconnected beeping in my ear.  She had hung up on me–thank God.

Note:  This story is my attempt to imagine what an American version of the Sesame Credit program would look like.  Sesame Credit is a social media program which the Chinese government is in the process of implementing.  This article is a good basic breakdown of how it’s supposed to work.

My blogging friend nananoyz recently posted about giving up her Candy Crush addiction. Naturally, this brought to mind my own online obsession…

Every day, I tell myself that I will only spend a little bit of time on it. And every day, I end up scrolling down and down, down the Facebook newsfeed rabbit hole, getting sucked into that swamp of pop culture detritus and endlessly repeated memes. After a while, everything runs together…suggestive selfies and announcements of a death in the family…funny dog videos and petitions about animal torture…inspirational quotes and sad break-ups and Darth Vader toys and cocktails and people Liking each other and telling each other how beautiful and awesome and amazing they are in a giant skin-deep clusterfuck of momentary connections…I can’t stop to think about any of it anyway, because there is the next thing to see and the next…

An hour or so later, I surface again, my brain dulled, my eyes glazed over, my attention span shrivelled down to that of a fruit fly with ADD, so that I have a hard time focusing for the length of a stupid Taylor Swift song. “It’s okay. Tomorrow I’ll only a spend a few minutes on it.”

But the compulsion to shoot myself up with junk remains, and the Facebook dealer is always there, giving its goods away for free, tempting me with those shiny pictures and videos. What if I miss out on stuff? OMG! I have to check Facebook!

Lord knows, if I didn’t, I might actually end up caring about something important….

If I post a picture of myself wearing a fashionable hat, will I be fabulous?

If I post a picture of myself wearing heels, will you love me?

If I post a picture of myself having drinks at the bar, will my life be exciting?

If I post a picture of me and my boyfriend grinning into the camera, will my relationship be happier?

If you Liked me, does that mean you like me?

If I post about how much I love myself, will I love myself?

If I’m having one of those days when I’m curled up in a ball in my room, but I still drag myself to the computer and post about how fantastic my day is, will my day be fantastic?  Will I be accepted?  Will I become one of you?  Will you give me the secret password to your world?  If I keep talking, will what I say mean something to you?

Or will I turn off the computer and go sit in the sunlight in my garden, where I don’t have to be anyone or say anything?  What’s on my mind right now?  Absolutely nothing, and it’s beautiful.

As if I didn’t already know that I should.

You know those Zimbio quizzes which are all the rage on social media right now, where you find out which character you are in your favorite movie or TV show…well, in the past couple of weeks, it has turned out that I am:

The Emperor in Star Wars:  “Manipulative and cunning…you’ve devoted your talents to the dark side.”

Book in Firefly:  “You’re a calming presence in a tumultous world.  You preach peace….always believing in the goodness of people.”

And, naturally, Fozzie Bear:  “You’ve bravely faced the worst life has to offer and come out laughing.”

Either these quizzes are just an entertaining waste of time…or, if not, my multiple personalities problem is far worse than I suspected.

Turns out that scientists have been unable to find any trace of time travellers on the Internet.  I know–I didn’t realize there were scientists looking for signs of online time travel, either.  Physicists at Michigan Technological University decided to adopt the strategy of coming up with two phrases–“Pope Francis” and “Comet Ison”–that were not in popular use before 2012 or 2013, and Googling for any earlier use of these words, to see if a time traveller may have been dropping hints on the Internet.

But nope, nothing.  So either time travel doesn’t exist, or our future selves are so spiritually enlightened that we no longer waste our time endlessly surfing the Web.  Since that second option is unlikely, I’ll go with “time travel doesn’t exist”.  Unless whoever travelled in time just didn’t care about either Pope Francis or comet Ison.  Maybe they were too busy predicting the rise of twerking?

Looks like we’ve got no time travelling, no prophecy–we’re stuck with the good old-fashioned method of guessing what will happen.  Some of our guesses are pretty good.  Presenting this article from back in 2004: 

Remember the name Barack Obama. You’ll be hearing it a lot as this election season unfolds.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat, is tall, thin, youthful and very smart, and he’s running (sometimes literally, depending on the schedule) for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.

He’s got a million-dollar smile and he’s charismatic. At the moment he has a substantial lead in the polls. If that lead holds and he wins in November, he’ll be only the third African-American to take a seat in the Senate since Reconstruction.

His partisans describe Mr. Obama as a dream candidate, the point man for a new kind of politics designed to piece together a coalition reminiscent of the one blasted apart by the bullet that killed Robert Kennedy in 1968.

The article describes Barack Obama as the future of politics, but doesn’t get everything right.  The hilarious part of the prediction is that Obama will help the country’s politics be less divisive….I think the writer may have been overestimating the sanity of our nation.  Well, nobody is going to guess correctly 100% of the time…unless you are a time traveller reading this, in which case, tell us what the hell happens with Ted Cruz?

 

Okay, I think I’m starting to put together some rules for how to conduct myself in the new world we inhabit.  I’m naturally an introverted and private person, so these will be a little hard for me to get used to, but I think it’s best if I get started on adapting to them now.  Here are a few basic ones:

*Don’t do anything in your home that you wouldn’t want a drone to photograph.  Yeah, I used to think of it as the “privacy” of my own home, but that turns out to be a silly delusion.  Be on your best behavior, even in your bedroom.  I’m guessing sex is still acceptable as long as it takes place under the covers.

*Don’t communicate anything on the Internet–this includes “private” e-mails–unless you would be prepared to share it with the Department of Homeland Security.  Or the Chinese military.

*Don’t take a photograph unless you are okay with it being used in online advertising later on down the road.  (Or just be completely asocial like me and don’t share your pictures with your friends).

*Don’t wear embarrassing underwear–you never know when it might get displayed on a body scanner.

I’m guessing there’s more that I’m missing here.  As far as I know, my conversations aren’t being bugged and my thoughts can’t be read yet.  I remember hearing that the Age of Aquarius was going to bring all of humanity much closer together.  Is it wrong of me to feel that we are getting a little too close?  I like to be able to keep some things to myself.