Monday, June 23, 2014

Twitter Rules Revisited

Two weeks ago, I live-tweeted the Tony Awards. I published seven tweets in three hours responding to an awards show that, for reference, gave six awards last year to a musical written by Cyndi Lauper about drag queen cobblers. A few days later, I accidentally became the seventeenth follower of someone I was under-the-radar Twitter stalking, and, upon discovering my error a full 36 hours later, unfollowed them, because yeah, like, that definitely makes it less weird.

So maybe I'm not the best at Twitter.

But in light of recent events, it has come to my attention that many of my peers are far, far worse. I've noticed a variety of trends on the social network recently - on #LogansportTwitter, primarily - that really are almost too straight-up crazytown to be believed. White kids referring to each other by the n-word? Selfies taken while being booked by the police? None of these things are off-limits on the Twitterverse these days, and I could literally not have made this reality up had I tried. I've written about how to not suck on Twitter before, but it seems that I need to revise my tips to make them a bit more basic. What follows is a list of Actual Totally Insane Things I've Seen on Twitter Lately That Oh My God I Need to Stop Seeing, Like, Preferably Yesterday.

1. Racial slurs, gay slurs, and any derivatives thereof. Dearest caucasian teenagers of northern Indiana, I cannot find the words to fully express my confusion at the fact that you don't know not to use racial slurs. I'm going to chalk one up for society or your friends and family or whatever is teaching you things, because my assumption is that race relations in your lives are so good these days that the advice, "Hey, maybe don't use the n-word" has been rendered so obvious as to be obsolete. I guess. Luckily, here I am to tell you what you've apparently never been told before: Hey, maybe don't use the n-word. Or any racial slurs. Or, while we're at it, gay slurs. Because those have been all over Teen Twitter lately, too, and dear baby Jesus this is a very confusing and horrible trend.

American Studies Sarah also has a lot of feelings on the "white girls" trend. Liking The Notebook or even liking Ryan Gosling's smokin'-hot bod does not make you necessarily female, and if you think it does, reevaluate yourself. Liking mocha chip frappuccinos doesn't make you necessarily white. But I digress. Don't use racial slurs and gay slurs, y'all. Civil rights. This is the 90s.

2. References to illegal activities in which the tweeter is partaking, will be partaking, or have partaken. Remember the entirety of Law & Order from roughly 1999 to 2003, where basically every last criminal was caught because they talked openly on the Internet about the illegal stuff they were doing? Remember how they were in no remote way light-handed about this? They and everyone else were apparently not heavy-handed enough. I am watching Law & Order right now, and the officer just said, "Nothing disappears from the Internet, ever." And this is not obvious enough.

Anyway, long story short, there's been a lot of talking about illegal activities on Teen Twitter lately, so let's just go over a few things on this front to avoid in your tweets:

- The smoking of the reefer, explicitly or in code. No one sees your tweets about your "fave medical supplies *sunglasses emoji*" and thinks, "Ah, yes - I, too, enjoy Advil."

- Drinking, being drunk, being hungover, your favorite drink, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. Most of the ill-advised tweets I've seen on this topic are from tweeters with public profiles, which I think is the literal definition of unemployable. This rule, mind-numbingly-obviously, goes quadruple for those tweeters aged fewer than twenty-one years. If you are under the legal drinking age, I wouldn't even put the word "party" on your Twitter unless it is proceeded by "Grand Old," "SNL skit 1920s," or, for instance, I don't know, "Donner."

- Ritual murder and human sacrifice.

3. Anger and ill-will towards law or law enforcement. There are instances - measured criticisms of police stop-and-frisk policies, perhaps, if you're a consistent social advocate - in which polite references to one's disappointment with law or law enforcement could lead to fruitful discussion on Twitter.

There are other instances - say, profane declarations of the shortcomings of cops who break up house parties - in which Twitter is pretty much the worst place to vent your feelings about law or law enforcement. Can we all take some guesses as to what the following meme would translate to in modern prose or, say, NWA lyrics? Yes? Can we agree that this category of language is probably one we should not use in our tweets? Yes? Well, TEEN TWITTER HAS NOT REALIZED THIS. I repeat: I cannot make these things up. This is real life. Talk to your friends about your disappointment in authority figures. Don't put it in writing on the internet.

4. Excessive - and I do mean EXCESSIVE - swearing. I heard a censored version of Jason DeRulo's "Talk Dirty to Me" on the radio the other day, and, by the time the station had cut out everything inappropriate, only about half of the rap verse was left. It was absurd. Some of the Twitter accounts I've seen recently would easily be the visual equivalent of such censoring were someone to take out all the expletives flying around, and, while I'm not going to sit here and pretend I have any right to tell you to stop swearing altogether, I'm gonna say it's a decent idea to maybe not swear publicly and in writing on the internet where literally anyone can see it more than, like, once a week? I don't know. I have ideas sometimes; you could argue I'm a radical. 

Friends. Tweeters. Countrymen. We are living in an age where high school principals have Twitter accounts and where CNN puts tweets in their news coverage on live cable television. I'm not going to tell you (this time) how to be less annoying on Twitter - my entire persona revolves around being annoyed, so even if you were to try not to annoy me, you would probably fail. But avoiding racial slurs and police-bashing probably isn't so difficult. Let's take some baby steps together towards a better Twitter world. It's within your reach. Si se puede. Yes we can. 

And if this post has made you angry, go watch Gotta Kick It Up with young America Ferrera. You'll feel better.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tinder Bueno

First of all, I need you all to be aware of the reference that this title is making. This is a play on the name of the best candy bar in the entire world, the Kinder Bueno. This is the Kinder Bueno. It is perfect. If you didn't know about it before now, A) I'm sorry and B) you're welcome. 

A few months ago, an app called Tinder hit the scene and revolutionized the ability of twenty-somethings to form meaningless "romantic" relationships with, largely, random strangers. The Apple App Store calls it a lifestyle app. A generous onlooker would call it a dating app. I'm going to call it what it is: a hookup app.

It came to my attention recently that not just skeezy unknowns but actual people I know have been using this app. My friends' experiences made it look like a land of endless amusing stupidity, and, as we all know, there are few things I love more in this world than amusing stupidity.

Naturally, then, I joined Tinder a few weeks ago. My purposes were twofold and simple: fly under the radar and find out how many of my acquaintances I could find on Tinder, lookin' for love. I had no particular interest in meeting or interacting with people on Tinder, but I had a feeling I knew some people who did. So I browsed, and my findings were fairly interesting.

At Notre Dame, nearly everyone I found on the app whom I recognized from real life was a member of the Glee Club. There are a lot of things I could say about this. So. Here we are.

In Logansport, there weren't many patterns to the gentlemen I found whom I knew from outside the Tinderverse. A few were my classmates. Many more were several years my junior, which is a bit sad. Others were several years older, which is probably sadder. Eventually, I ran out of people I knew, and this, I thought, was where my Tinder adventures would end.

Then I found Russell.

Russell is a Wilderness Explorer. His bio told me all about his interests in wilderness exploring, assisting people, traveling to exotic locales with his friend Mr. Frederickson, and the like. This is Russell.

Now, I want to be very clear. I never intended to press a single button on Tinder beyond the X that means "yeah, bored, keep scrolling through until you can show me another old classmate that I can blackmail with this, Tinder, come on." But the mystery man behind Russell's profile was clearly a genius. Such brilliance cannot simply be X'd. It must be rewarded. I hit Like on Russell's profile. "It's a match!" We chatted briefly. He spoke exclusively in Up quotes. I congratulated him on being a Tinder genius. And that was that. 

As I looked over Russell's profile and the countless other profiles that paled in comparison to his, I realized that I have some thoughts on what makes for a successful Tinder profile. 

Ladies, if you're looking for tips on how to craft your profiles, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere. As I've had only two matches including Russell (you could say I'm picky; you could also say I've only clicked like on four people in roughly three weeks), I am probably not the best person to ask for advice. I would point you instead in the direction of a dear friend of mine who joined Tinder this afternoon and had nineteen matches within a half hour.

But for the gentlemen, I have some ideas. I acknowledge, of course, that most ladies on the Tinder machine are probably not looking for the same things I'm looking for. I'm looking to make fun of old acquaintances' attempts to win over women - and in terms of actual potential matches, I'm looking for Aaron Tveit, whom I doubt is within 25 miles of Logansport. So I won't be presumptive enough to give you "advice" on how to cater your profiles to the things that ladies want. Instead, I will give you a list of Ways to Earn a Certain X On Tinder and In Life From Sarah Cahalan and Any Girl With Any Taste.

1. Be shirtless. Even if you are hot. When you're shirtless in your profile picture, my eyes add a filter that projects a Tupac tattoo across your stomach reading "Tool Life."

2. Wear camouflage. Attractive hobbies: tap dancing, reading acclaimed modern American novels, home-brewing cider, not killing animals for sport.

3. Pose with stereotypical Hot Girls.  "One time I got this chick to take a picture with me. Swipe right."

4. Use senior photos in your profile. Anywhere. I have actually run into this, a number of times, and I have only to say: hahahahahaha. Hahaha.

5. Make your phone visible in your selfie. Team Stop Selfies 2014.

6. Include your height in your bio. Should I be impressed? Alarmed? These are honest questions; I don't understand at all. Help.

7. Have Tinder.