So, in a surprise that should come to absolutely nobody, I am a bit of a social networker. I’ve got a Twitter account, a Facebook account, and I’m blogging, both here with my randomness, and over at Poweranks.com writing about The Walking Dead (or, to be more specific, the stupidity of the survivors on that show). In many ways, this amuses me, as I’m not naturally an extroverted person. However, social media seems to be right up my alley, as it allows me to interact with a lot of people (and I have a fairly large circle), but I don’t have to do it face-to-face except when I choose to. It’s kind of like screaming into the void, except this time the void is responding back, sometimes with NSFW imagery.
Recently, one of those social networking sites (no, I’m not looking at you, G+… nobody really looks at you) got plagued. First, it was Bitstrips, which are evil enough that even Buzzfeed is taking time to tell people how to avoid. When a website that revolves almost entirely around cobbling together lists in a haphazardly random fashion is teaching people ways to never see cartoons that make Family Circus seem hilarious, you know you’ve got a problem.
But Bitstrips isn’t what really became pervasive as of late. The newest thing, as was evidenced by the fact that close to 7 out of every 4 people (I’m bad at ratios) on my Facebook feed recently turned their profile pictures into giraffes. At first, I thought that intelligent life from outside of this solar system had arrived, toting their Giraffe Transmogrifying Ray (or GRT for short) with them, zapping people left and right into those majestic, long-necked animals, and yet still somehow gave them the ability to type.
And what is the cause of all of these giraffe pictures being spread around like wildfire? A riddle. Or, what claims to be a riddle. I’m not going to share it here, because, well, if you’ve got social media, you’ve already seen it a dozen times or more. And if you don’t have social media, I commend you on avoiding that particular trap, and would like to know if there are any other rocks in your neighborhood that still could use a resident underneath them.
Part of the problem, aside from everyone doing the long-neck for a few days, is that the riddle has a few acceptable answers, but which one is right is determined by the person asking it. And, since this thing seemed to spread through people that got the riddle “wrong”, it has definitely lead to differing opinions on what the answer is (it’s a bottle of chardonnay, right? After all, you want to be a good host). Even worse, the people who got the correct-as-determined-at-that-moment answer then got to feel smug over the number of people in their feed who just didn’t see it the same way they did. And, because this is the internet, it also immediately spawned a camp of people who just decided that riddles are stupid, that changing your profile picture to a giraffe was stupid, and that anyone participating in such an act was beyond stupid.
Look, riddles are meant to be fun, and they’re meant to challenge your way of thinking. Crafted well, they can be the best kind of brain teaser possible. However, spreading them around on Facebook is just an invitation for them to get abused, the same way that people abuse slacktivism and spoilers (in other news, I’m totally going to tell you what happened on The Price is Right today, provided that you know why I’m mentioning the color of my socks). And, because it’s the internet, it’s going to lead to people making fun of the people who wanted to have a good time.
After all, that’s exactly what social media is there for. It’s not about connecting. It’s about making yourself feel superior to someone else.
And if you can’t do it on Facebook, write a blog about it.