A couple days ago I scrolled past an article that told me I was eating a pineapple wrong. Yesterday I was cutting layer cakes wrong, this according to mathematicians no less. The rest of the internet is telling me every single mundane thing I do is wrong. Now, I seem to be a relatively normal, functioning human that, on occasion, even interacts properly with the society around me. If I choose to eat a pineapple the fruit makes it into my mouth, and if I decide that cake is my goal for the day, that too tends to get inside my mouth. As far as I am aware, I am eating, have not caught on fire, and am not bleeding out. So tell me dear sweet internet, am I really doing it that wrong? Really?
We all scroll mindlessly through our various feeds and we can’t help but see the click bait headlines. Buzzfeed, Lifehack, Cosmo, LifeBuzz, MSN, Scoopwhoop (this is a thing?), it’s an endless list of daily tasks that we are doing wrong, that experts say we can do better, and let me teach you. I know it is mindless. I know it is a time waster. I have probably read more of these lists than you have. Have I tried a few of these hacks? A couple I guess. Have any worked? I dunno, can’t remember. I’m still opening a banana from the stalk end, putting my ear buds in with the cords hanging down instead of over my ears, and I’m certainly not putting a straw through the hole in a pop can tab like a goober. If you’re using a straw with a can in the first place we’re going to have to have a little sit-down to chat.
My personal favourite? “You’re supposed to pull the sides of the juicebox out so that your kids can hold onto them and keep the juice from spilling.” No you are not. Those are not handles you asshat. They’re the natural by-products of forming a three dimensional cube out of flat cardboard. You’re telling me, Amanda from LifeBuzz, that children can’t hold onto a small rectangle with their entire hands better than using their fingertips to delicately hold two little triangle flaps? Here comes little Billy now walking across the playground sipping spillessly as he holds that juice box ever so proper right up to his proud face with his dedicated child hand holders. Not happening.
But more to the point than patting Billy on the back for a spill free day, it does make me wonder if these articles have a different, darker effect. It’s an obscene stretch to say that there’s been an overall downtick in mental well-being because we are being told we are dispensing a Tic Tac wrong. (Sorry but it’s a container of Tic Tacs. I’m shaking the crap out of it). But we have to remember that there are in fact people out there that read these kinds of things at pretty close to face value. These kinds of listicles have been around for a while now and obviously have generated clicks as they don’t seem to go away. But think, if only for a fleeting instant everyday, you’re told that the way that you go about your daily life is wrong. Not on an overbearing life-choices scope, but on a more minute level.
Considering some of the things that get passed around the internet and are subsequently turned into truth for some people, I honestly don’t think it is a little bit of a stretch that these articles are just a tiny pin prick of mental annoyance that add to the daily blahs of our scroll happy lives. But now compound these articles with the ones saying you’re investing your money wrong, or buying a car wrong, or grocery shopping wrong, eating wrong, dieting wrong, exercising wrong. And now click on one of these and see what the author has to say. Are any of these ideas and hacks actually applicable to your life? Do you have an extra $1000 to drop into whatever investment scheme they lay out? But maybe you should. Because Mr. Investo Perfecto says you should.
It is no doubt a great comedy bit to talk about all the small life hacks the internet proposes to you. In fact I’ll just sit over here laughing at you while you put a wooden spoon over your boiling pot of potatoes and see how well that works out for you. I’ll calmly turn the burner down a little bit while you swear at your starch bubble covered spoon and stove. Unfortunately, however, I do think that if you add up all of these tiny pricks of negativity towards the way you are going about your life and then on top of that pile on all the other things we hear about with the negative effects of social media, the cumulative effect can not be positive. And what about the truly earnest person that takes these life improvement tips seriously, tries them, inevitably fails, and the onus for that failure falls upon the person and not the flawed tip itself? I guarantee these people are out there, and P.T. Barnum would be proud and not care in the least of the wider ramifications.
As for me, well, I’ll try to remember that I’m flubbing along just fine and will continue refusing to flatten my little ketchup cup. Because if I do I’ll be smearing ketchup all over the table, and possibly other patrons, trying to get proper ketchup coverage on my french fry.