How to be Anti-Social


By Neil Offen

Social media, of course, has become a big part of our lives, particularly during the COVID pandemic. In a time of dislocation and isolation, social media has brought the world closer, as hand-in-virtual-hand we study funny cat videos together and conspire to exchange completely false information about utterly everything.

Social media is how we communicate today with our families, with distant friends and nearby neighbors. It’s how we find out the latest epidemiological news and argue over the latest epidemiological news. It’s a source for advice and a megaphone for opinions. Plus, have we mentioned funny cat videos? 

Social media also allows us to complain to people who are just like us about how everything is not as good as it used to be and how we used to do it better and would still do it better if we could remember what it is we did. Additionally, it also gives us a chance to be friends again with people whom we knew in high school, didn’t particularly care much for back then and have avoided for several decades. 

Yes, admittedly, social media can be a total waste of time. Then, on the negative side, it’s also addictive and destructive. 

But whether we like it not, it’s here to stay.

As someone not on Facebook, nor Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube, Reddit nor any of the others, I feel completely qualified to offer you advice on how to deal with social media and make the best of it.

Social media “friends” are not necessarily actual friends. Most likely, they would quickly report you to authorities if they believed you were cooking meth in your basement. Unless they were cooking meth in their basement.

Ignore negative posts. When someone says something nasty, about you or your cat, on social media, pay no attention. Of course, that kind of decent attitude will not work, and the nastiness will fester inside of you so much you will be tempted to create a false Twitter identity, with a completely fictitious profile, so can say, in response, so’s your old man.

Don’t worry about FOMO. FOMO is fear of missing out, a common social media malady. It’s a sense that your peers are doing better than you are or have more than you do or understood what FOMO meant before you did. When we see others’ pictures of spectacular vacation cruises, attendance at elegant parties or read about their winning the Nobel Peace Prize, naturally we may feel a bit jealous. It’s therefore always important to remember that Henry Kissinger, while he was in charge of bombing the crap out of Cambodia, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Be careful about accepting friend requests. Don’t accept any requests from people you knew many years ago in high school, particularly if you felt they may have cheated on trigonometry tests back in the day. Those are the kind of people who could be cooking meth in their basement today.

Don’t get into political arguments on social media. The reason is obvious: the people you may be arguing with will be wrong.

Find alternative activities. If you are spending too much time on social media and worry that you are becoming addicted, try replacing it with an activity that is more enjoyable for you, like screaming.

Don’t succumb to pressure. There’s no need to constantly update your Facebook friends or Twitter followers on interesting things you are doing if you are not doing any interesting things. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be abducted for ransom by Somali pirates.

 And please, never post a cute cat video. Some of us are allergic.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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