I'm not talking about stalking someone via foursquare. This isn't a piece about setting up a bomb-making Tumblr. I'm not even talking about exposing yourself on Instagram, I'm just talking about social network behaviour that yanks at our collective chains.
When the revolution comes, these are the top three crimes which are going to get you put on a list:
1. Being vague
Your personal life is not a series of Apple product launches. You do not need to speak in code, or subtle intimation. "Three sleeps to go" is not a meaningful contribution to my life. "Sleep" is not a unit of time, and even if it were, you still haven't told me anything. In three days (the ordinary measure of time) you will not announce that you have built a thermonuclear device, had gender reassignment surgery, or had a movie project greenlit. You are probably going to a restaurant you've been keen to tell everyone about, taking a short trip abroad, or seeing an old friend. You have piqued my curiosity for zilch.
At this point I've begged Facebook never to let me hear about you again. That piece of music you're listening to on Spotify may be producing a profound and inspiring moment for you, but the rest of us are having different sorts of days. We're happy that you've discovered Louis Armstrong. We're unimpressed that it took you so long. You've just ordered a coffee somewhere? You're having the sort of day where you just needed that extra shot? You might as well be tweeting your bowel movements.
Oversharing is less interesting to people out there reading your thoughts than half an hour spent going through the contents of a bin would be. Unless I'm in Bratislava, going there within four hours, or am attempting to cultivate crops in that area, why - short of a natural disaster - would I care what the local weather is doing?
3. Being miserable
Forget the online brag, or even the more controversial humblebrag. What should be outlawed is the low-level whingeing of the slightly unhappy. I did not follow you to join your support group. Unless you have a legitimate problem for which you are crowdsourcing logistical assistance, the internet is not your therapist.
The life-cycle to the miserable social network offender:
Phase one: the relationship will publicly end, the treasured but sickly pet will be checked in both physically and digitally at the vet, or that job you've been telling everyone you applied for didn't happen and you've decided to let us all know. You will do this vaguely, perhaps by changing your status to a sad emoticon, or just the word 'damn.'
Phase two: you will publicly ask us all a ridiculous question to which only the most patient and sympathetic will provide an answer. "Am I just not meant to be happy?" "Are all men bastards?" "What's wrong with me?" are classic signs of public self-pity.
Phase three: the final and most excruciating phase of the public whinger, you will start sharing the zen wisdom of the internet, preferably with pictures of people like Ghandi, accompanied by slogans of self-empowerment. Turn that frown upside down. Be the change you want to see. Get over your issues and enjoy this picture of a rabbit. Thank you for these messages, they fill my day with little pockets of hope and joy. You should write a book about your life-affirming experience.
If anyone out there has offences that they think need adding to the list, be sure to let me know.
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