If you don’t read this, you won’t know what it says.

9 12 2013

Something happened to the internet while we were all looking.  It has become increasingly desperate, and continues moving in that direction.

word_amazingNo matter where you look on the internet, you see things that basically are saying, “Click here!” “Read this!” or “Watch me!”  Of course, we are typically clicking on something else, reading some other article, or watching a different video, so if our attention is going to be grabbed, something major needs to be done to grab it.  Which, I suppose, is why the attention-grabbing attempts have gotten more and more annoying.  It started—as all things do—fairly innocently:

“The top ten things you must know this winter!”

“You’ll never look at yourself the same way again!”

But then it got a little pushy:

“If you only do one thing today, make it be watching this video.

“My mind is blown and yours will be too.”

And even insulting:

“If you don’t watch this video, you are doing life wrong.”

Then it began to really exaggerate:

“The only speech you’ll ever have to hear in your whole life.  Ever.”

“The best thing in your entire life is about to happen to you when you read this.”

I feel that that’s where we are now.  Everything is exaggerated so much that the words have nearly lost their meaning.

“This is the most awesome thing ever!  So much awesome!”

But I thought I clicked on the most awesome thing ever yesterday.  It was a hippo walking with a dying dog.  And I’m not sure I would call that awesome.  It was sweet and a little sad.  But I’m not sure “awesome” is the best description.  Would people still watch the video if the description was:

“This is sweet and a little sad?”

upworthy240x190Nearly everyone online is guilty of this crap.  But the ones who do it best are sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed.  Both are sites that share a lot of interesting or funny or informative or otherwise intriguing pictures, stories, or videos.  I don’t have a problem with their content; I have a problem with their desperation and their superlatives.

BuzzFeed_logoDon’t get me wrong.  Some things are brilliant or amazing or genius or the best.  But when we see so many things claiming to be all of these sorts of “awesome” on a daily basis, we get desensitized to it.  It’s the other end of the spectrum of being overwhelmed or desensitized by bad news.

Sometimes, the world seems like a very bad place.  There is awful news no matter where you look.  People are suffering.  People are dying.  But the response to this is to say, “It just seems that way, because they only report the bad news.”  Now with the internet, everyone is reporting.  All of us.  And there’s a lot of good news out there.  But we don’t have to make it sound better than it is.  It can just be “simple” or “a little sweet” or “kinda ordinary.”  Besides, I don’t always want to click on:

“This woman is a hero and she is doing everything in her life the best way possible.”

Sometimes, I’d rather click on:

“This woman has made mistakes like you have and she is still okay.”

Maybe we’re still struggling to find the balance.  There is horrible, awful news and there is amazingly inspiring news.  But there is also even more very ordinary, regular ol’ news.  And I guess that’s the problem isn’t it?  The common everyday happenings aren’t news.

For me it’s more beautiful and comforting that the good things ARE ordinary as opposed to being “the best ever.”  Good things aren’t rare and we shouldn’t treat them as such.  Appreciate them, yes.  But recognize that they are all around us.

If you didn’t read this, it only means that you don’t know what it said.  That’s all.

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