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Righting the iceberg

iceberganalogyAccording to Freud, the human psyche is structured into three parts:

The id is the impulsive (and unconscious) part of our psyche which responds directly and immediately to the instincts.

The ego seeks pleasure and avoids pain but unlike the id the ego is concerned with devising a realistic strategy to obtain pleasure.

The superego incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from one’s parents and others. Its function is to control the id’s impulses, especially those which society forbids.

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 12.05.36 PMClearly Dr. Freud could not have fathomed a world with Internet and social media. A world where you need not be the brightest, just the loudest or most outrageous, where substance is often replaced with snark, and perceived anonymity brings out the very worst of all of us at times. It’s the iceberg analogy turned upside-down.

Lest you think I’m being a bit preachy, I will freely admit to being guilty of all of the above.
Just the other day I was at the mall with my son when I snapped this picture with my iPhone with every intention of posting it to Facebook or Twitter with some snark-filled remark about the irony of a perfume named “Unbreakable Bond” featuring a couple whose marriage lasted less than four years.

I could have justified my actions by telling myself that if anyone deserves a little public humiliation it’s the Kardashians, who have made lucrative careers of allowing cameras to film what many of us would consider the most private aspects of their lives, all in the name of fame and fortune. Even those who have never seen an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians are inundated with headlines of their latest escapades courtesy of gossip magazines placed at the check-out line of their local grocery stores. One could reasonably surmise that for a Kardashian, there’s no such thing as bad press.

So, what stopped me?

My son. Who asked me why I was taking a picture of a bottle of perfume. What could I tell him? That it’s not okay for him to make fun of people but that it’s different for me? That I have an online reputation for my fun-loving snark and sarcasm? I decided right then and there that the purpose of taking the photo would not be the one originally intended. Maybe I could use it to share a lesson learned about empathy and grace right there in the long check out line at Burlington Coat Factory.

Regardless of how much you have or don’t have, life can be downright painful at times. And I don’t care how rich and famous you are, filing for divorce is a public admission that you made a mistake; that the vows you thought would last a lifetime did not; that you have failed at love. I’ve been told that going through a divorce is in some ways more painful than dealing with the death of a loved one, and that it is not something you would wish on anyone–not even an overexposed celebrity who probably should have seen it coming. Love is blind, and it often makes fools of us all.

I’m not suggesting that I will cease and desist all of my snark and sarcasm–it is, after all, my love language–only that I will ask myself how it would make me feel if someone posted the same thing about me.

The virtual world is a deceptive one. We fool ourselves into thinking that people understand where we’re coming from, that they understand when we’re kidding like our non-virtual friends do. Not long ago at a soundcheck before church, I stood on stage surrounded by a group of talented and experienced musicians and vocalists who also happen to be close and long time friends. So when I referred to myself as “the talent” it was understood that I was kidding, the joke made more amusing (for me, anyway) by the fact that of all the people gathered on that stage, I was the least talented of all of us. But referring to myself as “the talent” in an online setting just doesn’t go over as well, because there will always be those who misunderstand me.

I know choosing my snark and sarcasm more carefully won’t make a dent in the online sea of of mean-spirited humor. There are many popular websites whose sole purpose is to share a laugh at the expense of others. Some do so with permission and participation of their readers while others encourage their readers to submit unflattering photos taken without permission. Of the latter, ask yourself if you’ve ever ventured outside your house looking less than completely put together. Would you be okay with someone taking a picture of you wandering the aisles of Walmart in your ill-fitting sweatpants and flip flops? What about your mother, father, brother or sister? Because I can assure you that every unflattering photo posted on sites like these are of someone’s mother, father, brother or sister taken without their knowledge or permission. Imagine seeing your most unflattering moment captured and knowing that millions of other people have access to that same picture. It’s just not nice.

I won’t tell you where to draw your own personal line in the sand. I don’t think you’d find many who would fault you for calling Adolf Hitler a bad person or saying that Al Gore did not invent the Internet. But comparing someone to Adolf Hitler who isn’t knowingly and deliberately participating in genocide? That’s a line I personally will not cross.

If you’re still confused about what’s acceptable, you can heed words that were written centuries before the Internet was a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye (see what I did there?):

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. –Philippians 4:8

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Maybe we can all do our part towards righting the iceberg.

How to be Popular on the Internet (by Anna-Lisa) – Repost

If you read my Friday twitter posts (and who doesn’t?), then you have no doubt seen me RT a certain @asilannax. We first crossed paths way back on Stuff Chrisians Like. But unlike me, she doesn’t feel the need to comment when there’s nothing to add to the conversation. As you will see from the following post, Anna-Lisa is like me, only much younger and funnier. So, enough of me, here’s Anna-Lisa:

When Kathy first asked me to write a blog post for her, my first thoughts were “Wait, write something longer than 140 characters? Is that even possible?” Needless to say, I’m a bit of a Twitter addict, but branching out is good, right?

Okay, now that the “What I First Thought Of When Bestowed With The Honor Of Guest Blogging For paragraph is out of the way, we can get on to the topic at hand! I have decided to write about How To Be Popular On The Internet. I realize this makes me sound arrogant and self-important, but then I thought about the movie Remember The Titans. Imagine if their chant was “We are the Titans, the kinda okay Titans! We are the Titans, the slightly talented Titans!” No one would have cared about that movie. That movie would have sucked.

This post will mainly focus on Twitter, since that is my area of expertise, but it can be applied to most areas of the internet as well.

Step One:
What level of popular do you prefer?

The first thing to discern is which level of popular you want to be. Do you want to be a famous individual on your own, by your own humor, efforts, talent, and hard work or play off the mistakes of others?

The answer is always the latter. If you chose the former, you have no business being on the internet. You probably already have a steady job and should be answering e-mail from your iPhone or something right now. Get off of here, the Internet doesn’t want you.

I’m obviously making a joke here, but seriously, internet popularity is easier if you just latch onto some kind of bandwagon and either support it or mock the daylights out of it. Observe American Idol, tons of people use Idol to makes lots of friends and set up websites and gossip about how they “can’t BELIEVE she chose that song last night. It didn’t fit her vocal ability at ALL.” Or, you can choose the road I travel, (AKA The Road Of Awesome!) and use the internet to make fun of Paula’s boobs and Randy’s less than eloquent vocabulary.

There’s also the youtube approach, in which you have one thing that makes you popular for a month or so, before you fade out of existence forever. Forever being until someone’s grandmother finds you by some hole in the internet and forwards around to everyone in her e-mail contact list. When your grandmother e-mails you something, understand that it has officially cycled the entire internet. Please, don’t forward it. (This includes: Charlie bit my finger, any video of a baby laughing, something disastrous and/or unexpected happening at a wedding, any video involving an animal falling off of, or into, an object, or a video with an animal and some sort of skateboard) Rule Of Thumb: If it looks like it could be on America’s Funniest Home Videos, the internet has already seen it. On America’s Funniest Home Videos. But I digress.

Step Two:
Gaining friends

The only way to gain friends is to make your ACTUAL friends join your latest obsession and feed off of them. It’s like luring a tiger into a box with a chicken wing and then eating the tiger. Oh, that might be too offensive for PETA members. It’s like luring a tiger into a box with some tofu burgers and then eating the tiger.

It’s actually nothing like that at all, I just wanted to find an excuse to throw a tiger in this blog post somewhere. *High fives self*

Step Three:
Participate in stupid actions

Have you ever considering setting yourself on fire while jumping off of a five story building onto a trampoline into a pool? Quick, grab a friend and a video camera and go do it!* Is your house on fire? QUICK, tweet about it first! Hopefully everyone will forward your stupidity around the internet until you are famous….for….being stupid. Well, no one said fame didn’t come with a price.

*Anna-Lisa and Katdish cannot be held accountable for any injuries sustained from following this advice. (Bonus tip: don’t do anything just because someone on the internet told you that their cousin’s best friend’s grandmother’s aunt’s dog did it and they TOTALLY turned out fine.)

Step Four:
Purchase an animal

Despite what you might thing, animals bring about the best entertainment on the internet. A dog chasing his tail or a cat falling into an aquarium, while overdone, is also incredibly amusing. Or suppose you find yourself alone on a Friday night, a simple tweet about “sitting alone. On a Friday night :(” will not gain you friends. You will be laughed at. However, if you buy a cute kitten and write about how you “have a smoking hot date, and the only thing he asks of you is that you change his litter box” BANG! You are suddenly funny and endearing in your loneliness. Now, hopefully your new kitten likes to snuggle, because you’ll probably still end up crying yourself to sleep each night.

Step Five:
Be famous before the internet

The best, most guaranteed way of being famous on the internet? Do something awesome before you make your appearance on the internet. Be hilarious like Ellen Degeneres. Be hot like Megan Fox. (Good luck!) Start a cult like Oprah. The possibilities are literally endless!
(Please also note that I am in no way famous online, I just enjoy stalking people that are.)

For more from Anna-Lisa in 140 characters or less, follow her on the twitter: @asilannax
For more from Anna-Lisa in blog form, you can find her at Not that You Care, But…