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Monday, January 13, 2014

Life Hacks and Other Internet Lore Are Killing Us

Ahh, Internet, the bane of our existence.  Human evolution probably hit its zenith at about the same time that the World Wide Web came into being.  We rely so heavily on the Internet for everything these days.  Our mobile banking and commerce are done digitally because we have no time to stand in line anywhere these days.   Our ability to discover things on our own is severely stunted by Google and Wikipedia, which are both places with skewed answers in that Google’s relevance can be bought and Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and should not be taken at its word half the time.  Our brains are slowly becoming simple task doers while our fingers seek out answers over cyberspace. 

Why am I bringing all this up?

For awhile now, it seems that social media has become a dumping ground for things that just get regurgitated ad nauseam.  Life Hacks and other statistics and stories trickle down your newsfeeds and the boards you follow on Pinterest, but are the really true or useful?  Did that politician you hate say that thing or cause that mess?  Are the reptilians coming to get us?  Is Pope Francis going to destroy life on Earth and is there a New World Order where the money we use every day is going to be replaced with a currency much like the Euro?  To all of these, fear mongering is the bigger purpose, not sharing of information.

Snopes, Politifact, Truth Check, and a host of other places can be used to determine the validity of information about news related stories.  Getting your news strictly from Fox or CNN or heaven forbid Alex Jones is going to make you worse off than if you lived in an informational hermetically sealed cave.  Here’s a little tip…  If you see it on Facebook it’s probably not real.  If it says, “The Mainstream Media won’t report this”, it’s probably not real.   If it came from the Internet, HUGE RED FLAG ON FIRE!

Mental Floss on YouTube tests those life hacks you see on Pinterest and Facebook.  Quite Frankly, Life Hacks is a stupid thing.   Here’s a way to do a simple task with something you may or may not have in your house that requires more work to create the tool than to actually go buy the tool.   Need a Chip Clip, get a pants hanger and use it.   What about your pants?   How about just steal a binder clip from your office?  It’s smaller, requires no extra work and you probably have plenty of them that aren’t being used for anything else at the moment.   Some of the Life Hacks I’ve seen are downright false and rather stupid.  

If I have a jar in pantry I can’t open, I’ve been told that I can open it easily with a tennis ball cut in half.   A: I don’t play tennis.  B: I don’t have a dog  C: I’m not elderly nor do I have a walker with half a tennis ball on the foot.  I GUESS I’M SCREWED!   Do I go to Dick’s to buy a tennis ball or do I go to the home store to find something to open the jar?  See what I mean?   Internet Life Hacks don’t solve the problem, they create more junk clutter that turns our lives into something akin to the junkyard in Sanford and Son.

Facebook has become an endless loop of the same stupid crap shared across ridiculously named groups or pages. Then, every so often, you feel as if you have been spared because the trend dies only to be reborn in a baptism of LIKES and SHARES three years later. 

I get it.  We share for attention seeking purposes.  We share because we think we are passing along information that will help but in a way we are sharing because we think we have found some awesome answer for something and want to get some runoff credit and praise for sharing someone else’s work, real or fake.   Instead of sharing things we find or half pay attention to, why not come up with our own Life Hacks.  Ones that actually accomplish something with some practical application of functional everyday items.  Or, let’s go to a lab and speak to a real scientist or chemist about things.  Maybe, we could go to a classroom or open up a book and find the answer?   Let’s do our own things and post that information instead of just proliferating the crap that makes us dumber.  Show your work.  Discover.  Be the change. 

Face it.  We’re lazy.  We have someone else doing the job for us.   Now, it’s not a bad thing to see design ideas and creative uses for things and share that.  I have a friend that has repurposed old thrift store items into something cool and useful.  I don’t know whether she saw it on the Internet or just had the idea because she has education in design.  In any case, it’s cool, it’s practical, and it’s different.  It wasn’t just copied from somewhere like “Mommy has a potty mouth”.    

That’s what we need more of, not resharing of stuff from the Internet that may or may not work.  Let’s declutter our social media lives.  Let’s Life Hack instead of Net Share.   Let’s do some more research instead of just passing things down the line as if we were an inspector in a third rate toy factory.   Don’t we owe ourselves that much?

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