Hi there. Glad you’re reading this but why should you? Did you really think it would change your life? Of course not, but while I’m in rant mode I’m letting it out… I straight up HATE those ads/videos/links that tell me what I’m about to open will cause a particular reaction which they declare will definitely occur. If it says “Man opens fridge. What you watch will make you weep uncontrollably” then the only reason I might click on that link is just to prove that I won’t. What is it about this online ad trend that emblazoned every page we view? No matter how high brow you might think a page is there’s still a chance it will have one of these repugnant pieces of tappable detritus lingering at the bottom. The thing that gets me is that someone out there is trying to influence me into how I should be unquestionably feeling; and if I didn’t feel that way then I’m ‘not getting it’ and should go see a therapist. It cheapens what I’m about to view and makes me not enjoy it as perhaps I won’t feel the extreme reaction they were promising. But I’m now finding that everything advertised on the internet is from an extreme view of some variety. Nothing is a little bit of this or an honest recommendation of that, it’s something which has to be at a polar end.
The ones that make me angry are those which trumpet “Why no studio will hire this actor”, “Top 10 women who failed most at life”, “People you thought were dead but are sadly still alive. This will shock you”. It contains such polarized judgement that it makes me upset that those mentioned may see these proclamations. They aim to make me think they know best and they are the authority and I need to be informed so should click on their link. They know that to capture the consideration of our modern minds it has to be maximal or else we’ll ignore it like all the other announcements we bear witness to everyday.
Another result of living in this environment is it spills over into our own online communication. An example is whenever someone puts up a post or tweet involving some sort of humour it’s usually joined by this:
Really? Is it something which is so funny that it has made you laugh so hard that tears are now literally running down the cheeks of you and your small army of clones? Have any of us actually ever had that happen with this much intensity? It now runs along the same line as the web page ads, letting you know that this isn’t purely something you should find funny but that watching this will make your stomach hurt from guffawing while salt and water drop profusely from your eyes. Emoticons were simply smiley faces or faces with an open mouth of laughter. But 2016 wants more than that. It wants the utmost of emotion. It doesn’t want things to be funny or hilarious but to be a reaction beyond anything you could possibly imagine. The overall danger is that we demand so much of ourselves and of other people that we could end up jaded and burnt out at the constant request of emotional commitment. We want to make our own decisions and it could result in a cynicism where we can’t trust any recommendation from anyone anymore because we felt let down by the expectation we were given. It could be whenever every shared clip comes with a host of ‘crying smilies’ attached to it, and we didn’t find it all that funny, then we begin to mistrust things pinned with that yellow and blue badge.
The thing is, whenever we might reach that level of reaction it’s rarely caused by a TV show or movie but is more often a ridiculous moment which would be funny to only those in that room at that particular time. Some kind of in-joke that just me and my friends or family found funny and it was a special moment that you treasure because it isn’t a common occurrence. A video of a cat might have those in it laughing uncontrollably, but I shouldn’t be expected to share it at that same level. If I was there though, I might have succumbed to the contagion. If I watch a funny standup comic on TV then I will chuckle along, but whenever I’ve been to a decent live comedy show I’ll find myself laughing with much more commitment because I’m experiencing something funny and clever right in front of me. Sitting on the couch watching it on TV didn’t provide that same environment and I don’t expect it to.
Slightly unrelated, but I was once the best man for a friend’s wedding and the stag-do I organized was probably the hardest I’ve ever laughed in one day. My face hurt, my stomach ached. To outsiders it might possibly be funny, but because it was a day of crazy activities with my close friends it had that extra hilarity. What we did to him would’ve being my worst nightmare; but because I knew him well I remember at the end of his day of humiliation and torture the stag put his arm around my shoulder and said “Thanks man. I had the best day.” We did happen to be sitting in an Irish pub with near empty pint glasses in our hands, but I know he was honest. And I never said at the start that I expected him to undoubtably enjoy his day, but because I provided something I thought he might enjoy it was a great feeling to know he appreciated it; and felt I did it for him and our friends, not just for me.
So do I have some sort of summary? I suppose it would be that us in the 21st century are confronted by a request to click a link, watch a video, buy a product at such a velocity that those little ad boxes on our screens can become a blur. So in order to grab our attention we have to go to a new extreme, a new intensity that will draw our eyes and preemptively let us know what emotion we will feel if we participate. So being told that this experience will shock or deeply touch you can draw us because we want a supreme experience at every given moment. What’s wrong with that? I guess it’s that normal life isn’t always a whirlwind of excitement and emotion. It can get pretty boring at times. And expecting it to never be can become an addiction. We won’t participate in anything unless it will bring us to some sort of extreme mental state. Things such as art, music, and humour have always been very subjective, but subjective emotions are now put on every facet of life in society. If I’m shown something relatively attractive I’m told I will go “weak at the knees” or that my “jaw will drop.” It’s not ‘You might like this’, it’s YOU WILL like this. We will naturally become numb to it all, so what will be used to grab our attention in the future is a little foreboding. Well, as long it doesn’t involve this guy: