Like most white liberals, the last week has been extremely good for me. Not good-good, there’s been a lot of disappointing news that upsets me, but the madder I get, the better I do online, which ultimately gives me a sense of purpose, which is what I crave. All this week, I’ve been mad as hell about Ferguson, and I really feel like I’m making a difference with my indignant posts directed at all the hypothetical racist strawmen on my friends list, making demands and telling them all to unfriend me.
Even better, because of Thanksgiving, I was able to pull out my phone and complain about all my racist relatives, who are in actuality all well-educated liberals from the East Coast who don’t say or do anything particularly racist at all. That was great because it made me a victim of oppression in my own way, and I was able to elicit people’s sympathy through social media while asserting myself as morally superior to those that love me. It was a good week for being online.
But I’ve noticed a disturbing trend with Facebook. It seems that the more statuses I post, the less likes I get on individual statuses, even if said statuses contain the same amount of pandering outrage as my normal, once-a-day statuses.
Why is this? Well, I’m assuming it has something to do with these things called algorithms – some math shit that makes it possible for me to stare blankly at my phone and shuffle my thumbs around like a chimp while I pretend to be a civil rights leader. Algorithms control the visibility of your statuses on friend’s news feeds, and the more you post, the less visibility each individual post has. In a way, you’ve got a visibility quota for the day, and the more you post, the more you use it up. Think of Facebook like the batteries in a vibrator – the more you use it, the less you’ll be able to masturbate yourself in the long run.
But why is this a problem? Well, it’s a problem because the only reason I say or do anything is for attention. Imagine posting something about Ferguson and not receiving any likes whatsoever. Imagine no one seeing it. God, can you imagine how stupid you’d feel? Could you imagine not knowing whether or not you were on the right side of history – or worse, knowing that you could possibly not even be a part of history at all?
Now, as I’m sure many of you are aware, the trailer for the new Star Wars movie has been released, and as a nerd, I’m required to go online and bitch about it incessantly. I do this for the same reason I bitch about Ferguson, I like being both mad and right. But, I can’t be mad at both at the same time, or I’ll hit that magic algorithm number and suddenly my posts will drop off of people’s news feeds.
This puts me in an extremely difficult position where I have to choose between two things I love to hate: systemic injustice and movies that somehow retroactively ruin my childhood, like some kind of time-traveling penis that can go back to 1991 and molest me as I rewind a VHS copy of A New Hope. It’s not fair. The decision itself is in a way, my own little injustice.
So it’s with a sad heart that I say goodbye to Ferguson. It’s been real. Thank you for everything, but I have to go now, hopefully the spirit of my anger will live on, like the wraith of Obi Wan, watching over all the protests that I would never actually physically attend. Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where Facebook doesn’t punish those with multiple, frequent opinions, but today, that’s not the case.
And it’s all because of algorithms. Fucking math. Thanks a lot nerds. And when I say ‘nerds’ of course I mean the bad kind of nerd, the kind of nerds that have technical skills and are mathematically fluent. Not the good kind of nerds, meaning people that like extremely popular movies and video games, and who wear nerd shit like designer eyewear and shirts with buttons. It’s these damn math nerds ruining REAL nerds’ ability to talk incessantly about how we’re nerds. It’s these damn nerds ruining my ability to be something I’m not.