You’re smart, right? Of course you are. Or at least you think you are. Very few people think of themselves as dumb. Case in point: Fredo in The Godfather. Poor, sweet Fredo, literally shouting “I’M SMART” at his brother and the heavens after 4+ hours of getting bamboozled and steamrolled by every adult male between Havana and Las Vegas. He was too stupid to know he was stupid, so he just went ahead and assumed he wasn’t. That’s usually how it works. In fact, for the most part, the only people who won’t insist that they’re smart are the people who are actually a little too smart. They’ll probably reply with some sort of smug self-satisfaction dipped in melted false modesty like “I have my moments,” delivered with half a smile and an implied “… or at least that’s what the thesis committee thought after reading my analysis of the societal ramifications of nautical trade routes in the mid-1700s.” Which, ugh. Give me dumb people any day. We can drink High Life and talk about Guns ‘n Roses videos. It’ll be fun.
The point is, let’s proceed from the assumption that you’re a bright, reasonable individual who is capable of critical thought and seeing obvious direct correlations between things. Sound good? Great. I have a question for you:
Why are you hate-sharing things?
Actually, hold on. Let me rephrase. I know “why” people hate-click and hate-share things. There’s something therapeutic about screaming “HEY. LOOK AT THIS ASSHOLE” after reading some poorly thought out, factually inaccurate, mildly racist screed you just saw online. I get that. What I’m asking is why you, who we have just established as a smart person, repeatedly share these articles with everyone you know, knowing full well that by doing so you are providing the web traffic that the writers’ employers value as much as, if not more than, the content of the piece itself?
It’s like this: Say you have an alligator living in your basement. And say this alligator has already bitten you a few times. And say there’s no other food in the basement, so it can only survive if you chuck some chicken chunks down the stairs every now and then. The solution is simple, right? You just stop feeding it, lock the door, and wait for it to starve to death, then you walk down there once it’s deceased, put it in a Hefty bag, and toss it in the trash. Hmm. This analogy appears to have gotten very dark. I promise it made more sense when I started this paragraph. Also, I do not advocate kidnapping alligators and starving them in your basement. I’m just saying if it got there on its own, like by crawling through the window, or showing up disguised as a Comcast employee then scurrying down there and refusing to leave. And even then, maybe just call 911 or Animal Control. What I’m getting at is that you shouldn’t feed strange alligators. You know what I mean. Work with me here.
Anyway, this is why people like Andrew Sharp and the crew at Fire Joe Morgan are geniuses. They found a way to shine a light on this garbage and tear it apart from the inside through satire, rather than just directing people to the source en masse and starting a click-hate-share-click-hate-share cycle where everyone loses except the people who turn around and trade all those clicks for advertiser cash. I mean, I know it’s frustrating to see willfully ignorant putzes be given a platform, especially if it’s a prestigious platform at an outlet that hasn’t replied to your pitch for a piece about an important yet under-reported issue, like why Air Bud’s children can talk in the Air Buddies sequels even though Air Bud couldn’t talk in the originals, and whether it’s meant to imply that the puppies’ mother is secretly a human (still waiting over here, THE NEW YORK TIMES), but knowing how the business works and continuing to do that anyway is just madness.
And, yes, if I’m being totally honest, I am very, very guilty of this, despite all the accusatory “yous" I’ve been throwing around so far. That’s why, as of this post, I am making it my goal to stop doing it, or at least cut it down significantly. I’m really going to try. It’s not just the thing about pageviews, either, although it’s definitely that. It’s also the thing about how hopping around from outrage du jour to outrage du jour — as social media seems to be doing at an alarming rate lately — is really no way to live life, and I worry that doing things like devoting a whole afternoon to collectively ruining the day of some random dipshit who made an awful joke before getting on a plane might be affecting our ability to express actual, lasting outrage when there’s a legitimate call for it. Leave something in the tank, you know?
I suppose I’m probably being a little simplistic and Pollyanna-ish about all this. Saying “Guyyyyyysss let’s just stop, okay?” is kind of like being the college freshman who comes home for Christmas and starts explaining that “if every person in America donated just $10, we could raise over $3 billion to fight world hunger” without taking into account that those population figures include babies, and babies rarely have $10 of disposable income laying around. (This is one of the many issues I have with babies, for the record.) Especially when this is so ingrained in both human nature and the way we consume media now. To be honest, I’m not even saying you should never do it ever, really. I’m just saying think about it, at least a little, and decide if it’s really worth it to become the 10th person in your timeline to share the article written by the ideological hack who made the awful pun in the first paragraph, or if maybe you’re just giving him/her exactly what he/she wanted, and you’re now just as guilty of poisoning the public discourse as the author.
So, yeah. That’s my new goal, to cut down on contributing to the part of the outrage cycle that does nothing but make me upset and line the pockets of the people who caused it to happen. Maybe it can be your new goal, too! Unless your goal was already, like, curing cancer or building a functional, inexpensive time machine or something. Then go ahead and stick with that one. But everyone else, less hate-sharing. Starve that alligator.
Oh, he’s leavin’
On that donkey train to Buttsville
(Leavin’ on that donkey train)
Said, he’s goin’ back
(Goin’ back to find)
To a simpler place in time
(When he takes that ride)
Oh yes, he is
(Guess who’s gonna be right by his side)
And I’ll be with him
(I know you will)
On that donkey train to Buttsville
(Leavin’ on that donkey train to Buttsville, ooh hoo)
I’d rather live in his world
(Live in his world)
Than live without him in mine
Thank you. You are very sweet.
(For reference: Music Video Breakdown: ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias)
I feel like the New Yorker’s 2008 longread on hangovers may be appropriate today. An excerpt:
As for hangover remedies, they are legion. There are certain unifying themes, however. When you ask people, worldwide, how to deal with a hangover, their first answer is usually the hair of the dog. The old faithful in this category is the Bloody Mary, but books on curing hangovers—I have read three, and that does not exhaust the list—describe more elaborate potions, often said to have been invented in places like Cap d’Antibes by bartenders with names like Jean-Marc. An English manual, Andrew Irving’s “How to Cure a Hangover” (2004), devotes almost a hundred pages to hair-of-the-dog recipes, including the Suffering Bastard (gin, brandy, lime juice, bitters, and ginger ale); the Corpse Reviver (Pernod, champagne, and lemon juice); and the Thomas Abercrombie (two Alka-Seltzers dropped into a double shot of tequila). Kingsley Amis suggests taking Underberg bitters, a highly alcoholic digestive: “The resulting mild convulsions and cries of shock are well worth witnessing. But thereafter a comforting glow supervenes.” Many people, however, simply drink some more of what they had the night before. My Ukrainian informant described his morning-after protocol for a vodka hangover as follows: “two shots of vodka, then a cigarette, then another shot of vodka.” A Japanese source suggested wearing a sake-soaked surgical mask.
Shoutout to Thomas Abercrombie.
Done. I added a small family that he’s about to run over. Felt it made it feel more realistic.
Yes, this is going to be fun.