Table-Flip Tuesday: Social Media “Dear John”s

such rage, much fury

such rage, much fury

Do you follow me on Vine? If you don’t, I strongly, fervently recommend you remedy that – by first downloading the app onto your mobile device, then once your profile is set up and everything, searching for “M3JCNV” and hitting that “Follow” button. (And, if it needs to be further instructed, scroll through the profile, and hit the button containing the heart icon whenever it strikes your fancy.)

What you’ll find, with enough scrolling, is an amalgam of content: over four thousand six-second posts that range from funny to artsy to slice-of-life nonsense. Most of my posts gear toward the art of wordplay, which are somewhat cataloged under the #MuhthridgePunFun tag. There are also fun tags, such as:

#FelinaKatz (in which I don a yellow wig, red glasses, and affect my best Lumpy Space Princess impression);
#MuhthridgeTheSexy (a series of posts which somehow includes the sexy saxophone bit from “Careless Whisper”);
#MuhthridgeAdVentingCalendar (you’ll just have to check out the tag in order to fully appreciate the time and effort taken to produce such quality posts);
#MuhthridgeTalksToHimself (in which I do);
#MuhthridgeIsntEvenTrying (in which I’m really not).

So why the random, shameless plug for followers?

Firstly, the shameless plug isn’t so “random”. In fact, this whole “Table-Flip Tuesday” idea has been a means with which to extend my reach through social media, by latching onto a friend’s slightly more successful brand and creating content for it that would, as it so happens, feature my face, name, contact information, and other such methods of desperately trying to attain more attention and notoriety. For what it’s worth, all plugs are shameless – especially the ones that will just go into any old socket. (Which, as it so happens, is one of the posts you’ll find under the #MuhthridgePunFun tag. Tell your friends.)

Secondly (and, oddly enough, also primarily), I wanted to illustrate that what you’ll find when browsing through my profile is, in a word: content. It’s why I have so many tags, with which to catalog some of my more-endearing posts. Hell, it’s why I have a Vine profile, in the first place – to help sift through the deluge of ideas that occur to me on a daily basis; most of which, as it so happens, can be wrapped up in a six-second video clip.

I’ve waxed poetic, to an extent, on several forums – be they podcast, written out, or Vine itself, to name a few – about the multifaceted nature of this seemingly-simple application of social media… so I won’t get too wordy about it, here. Suffice it to say, however, that the versatility of Vine itself lends to the multiple ways in which it can be used; to the point where you, a wordplay magician, might use the app for comedic purposes, while your next-door neighbor, an avid Trump-supporter, might use the app for something one can loosely refer to as a “soapbox”. Many use the app to record their daily doings, others use it to assuage their need for attention.

Are any of these applications of the application itself wrong, when it comes right down to it? To be absolutely fair, providing said applications aren’t done in a fit or an attempt of causing harm to anyone (including the person applying said application), the answer is, quite simply: no.

Don’t get me wrong, though; there’s some screwed up monkey business going on within this subject, or else there wouldn’t be a “Table-Flip Tuesday” about it. And even as I typed out the above paragraph, it frustrated me greatly to apply said fairness – especially when, quite truthfully, I can think of several “personalities” (there I go, being all fair and shit…) I would like to see, whose profiles and followings seem to just fade into the ether. But, you know: in order to have you, dear reader, side with my argument and feel my deep-seeded irritation with this subject, I have to endear you to the cause somehow. And so… fairness: applied.

In my writing this out, I’m trying really hard to not turn this into a kind of “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for social media; and especially Vine” essay/memoir/dissertation of sorts… So I’ll just leave that previous sentence as statement enough, in that regard.

What irritates me about social media, and especially Vine, is this ego-inflating instant gratification we receive whenever we make a contribution of any kind to social media as a whole…

Post a moderately-filtered picture of brunch, get twenty likes in the span of a few hours, and you’re a somebody.
Post an insightful diatribe on Facebook, get several likes and corresponding comments in said same span of a few hours, and you’re a guru of the subject at hand.
Post a well-timed six-second video of yourself as multiple characters, get several like, corresponding comments, and even more shares onto other profiles, and you should have your own sketch-comedy show on Comedy Central, sponsored by Key & Peele.

They like you, they really like you! And that’s all well and good… as long as you don’t take advantage of those who are constantly and consistently there to show support for the content you create, whether through simple likes or actual communication through comments or direct messages. It’s easy to misplace the idea that, just as you are putting yourself out there, possibly in the hopes of having at least one person show solidarity in what you’ve put out there, those people showing that support you’re looking for are also looking for solidarity; and the last thing you should ever want to do, as a well-minded and considerate social media contributor, is take egregious advantage of that person.

Unfortunately, though, this ends up happening; and far too often in the form of, what I refer to as, “Social Media ‘Dear John’s”. These are the posts that you see, from time to time, where somebody ultimately commits to text, audio, or video, a message something akin to:

My friends – I hate to say it, but I need to no longer use this method of social media, if not all social media entirely. It has been fun, but I must move on… to other things going on in my life. I will never forget the fun times we had. I love you all. Xoxoxo

The reason why I refer to these as “Dear John”s and not “Social Media Suicide Notes” is twofold: 1) the latter is distasteful, and 2) these messages are more of a means of attaining some bitter upper-hand, before anyone else can get to it first.

Oh, don’t look at me like that. With messages like the one illustrated above, it’s more about the presentation and the reality of the thing than it is about possibly connecting with a group of people who might, for some weird reason, somehow miss your “I wrote a book by typing out stories written by other people” showboating or your punch-you-in-the-face-with-obvious delivery of puns. There’s no gratification from posting nothing, no reward from simply stepping back and letting someone else take the metaphorical spotlight. In short, it’s that presentation of “It’s not you, it’s me”, when it’s quite obviously you, all along; in this sense, the message is being presented because you haven’t liked enough of this person’s posts, haven’t commented with enough Na-mojis, haven’t spat fire and pissed venom to their cause in the past twenty-four hours.

That’s why it’s a “Dear John”. And that’s why I have a problem with it.

I could go on and on about trying to psychoanalyze and pick apart the nuances of messages of this nature. It’s nothing short of toying and manipulating the feelings and emotions of the people who have, quite foolishly if I’m being honest, entrusted you to be some sort of staple on their daily doings. They live vicariously through you, the social media “personality” that you present anyway, and now you’ve decided to take it away by leaving altogether – and in such a sudden and unexpected way. And so, because the vast majority loathes change, this audience of yours reacts, responds, and tries ever-so hard to get you to change your mind.

To be quite honest: it’s damn-near abusive, if you ask me. Which is the point, when it’s all said and done. For many (namely the ones who inspired this piece, in the first place) it’s a recurring thing. It’s that old SNL joke about Ross Perot, back in the day – claiming he was going to quit, then at the last minute staying in the race: “I quit!… Well, now I’m back. I quit!… And now I’m back.” And the unfortunate thing is that this becomes such a norm that it’s almost Pavlovian in its execution – to the point where those affected by it, who clamor at their keyboards and beg for the person “leaving” to change their mind, see no problem in this treatment.

This subject inspired me to make it an official “Table-Flip Tuesday” post. In the process of writing out the first few paragraphs, I ran out of steam for the long-hand presentation; however, I still had a bit left to post a series of Tweets, as a means of keeping up some motivation for this post, while figuring out how best to express what I was truly feeling in my wanting to flip a table over this particular subject.

The problem with “Dear John” posts – of any kind, of any presentation – is they make it glaringly obvious that social media has failed you, and vice versa. Social media can be defined within itself, as a means of being social through the media provided. It’s meant to be a gateway, not a means of residence; your way of finding like-minded individuals who might share in your passion or your ideas over a certain thing. While you might have over two thousand people who share a blanket-liking of what you post and present, only a fraction of those people will take a deeper, closer look and cultivate something meaningful with you – not just as the person who posted the thing about liking cats, but as a person using the application to make a connection (more than likely with someone who also likes cats).

If social media has done its job, you will have found your connections and will have found other means of solidifying and retaining those connections. Many of the strong connections and friendships I have today are because of Vine; however, these days we seldom use Vine as a means of maintaining connection – we text, we video-chat, and we even have lunch dates, whenever they’re in town! Our lives are much more than the social media application that brought us together, and if said application is brought up in conversation, it’s a passing thing.

As it should be… like gallstones and that “Introduction to C++” course you took in high school.


What say you?