Tag Archives: Art

Facebook Still Sucks, but Instagram is Strangely Satisfying

Note: Appreciate the amount of links I have in this mess of a post. It was a ton of work. Oh, and the struggle to italicize company names.

I don’t know whether I should bitch about Facebook or praise Instagram, so I’ll probably do both. One social media perspective isn’t complete without another contrasting perspective. My hatred for Facebook translates into a love of Instagram, and my love of Instagram only makes me hate Facebook even more than usual.

One thing should be mentioned: they’re the same fucking thing, and I don’t mean that because they’re both social media. Facebook literally owns Instagram, not in any metaphorical sense either, they actually own Instagram. I don’t know if this is popular knowledge or not; I myself am only aware of this fact because I used to trade stocks and options. One of the main talking points of bullish Facebook investors (besides the company raking in buckets of advertising money) is the fact that they own Instagram. Apparently Instagram is really popular and the irony of people leaving Facebook for Instagram is hilarious. Those hip people who are fed up with the utter trash that is Facebook can happily migrate to Instagram totally unaware of the fact that they haven’t moved anywhere new. It’s like moving from a third story apartment to a second story one in the same building. Moving up in the world, right?!

But Facebook is shit, let’s make that abundantly clear. I love to shit all over the company/site and even published my first ebook by doing so. I had a ton of posts bitching about Facebook and social media in general, wrapped a big bow tie around them, and published them in a compilation. I thought my days of bitching about Facebook were over — move on to bigger and better writing projects — but apparently not. Let’s rip on Facebook again, but in a different way.

It’s taken over by old people.

I don’t think I mean old people in a strictly age way, just the site seems rather stale. While it isn’t overran by old-people and their posts, it is overran by old-people-eque posts. There seems to be nothing of value left. Instead of creating/sharing interesting pics and posts about life, you have people sharing the dumbest, stupidest memes, social justice signaling all over the place, while the literal old people share the “liberals find the flag offensive, let’s show them!” American flag posts along with any other fake news/dietary cancer cures that they come across. Sure there are young people on Facebook (thanks for all the signaling; it sure is interesting that you’re posting sharing deep, meaningful posts to make yourself appear deeper than you are) but the older community is killing the place. I really don’t give a shit about a police dog that is laying on a grave or whatever, and I don’t care to pray for some random person with cancer who probably died four years ago while everyone is unaware of the fact. It’s just a mess and the mess overrides any joy I get out of the place. Facebook for me is a place to mindlessly scroll at 2 a.m. when I want to feel a little more cynical about everything.

The only person to share shit like this is someone who has just went through a shitty relationship and is trying to tell themself that they’re really fine and all of that shit. Signaling. Denial. Etc.

It’s also complicated to use. Not really, but it isn’t simple either; there are options everywhere. Every little thing is a button that does something unique. Tagging, captioning, privacy settings, sharing, sharing to news feed, sharing to story, pic uploading, video uploading, galleries, notifications, email and text notifications, react emojis, .gifs, personal information (music, movies, work, sports teams, etc.), phone numbers, ‘like’ or ‘follow’?, featured photos, and the list surely goes on. That’s only involving personal pages too; the Facebook ecosystem goes deeper. Much deeper. There’s a messenger and all the social anxiety that comes with messaging a person on Facebook because you don’t have their actual number and is that, like, a weird thing to do socially or is it okay? Then there’s Messenger Stories: what are you supposed to use that for? There’s a marketplace, business pages, groups, games, and so on. Oh, and you can make your own Facebook pages too if you’re a big fat-cat entrepreneur like myself. (Gimme a ‘like’ and ‘follow’ guys!) These pages are their own can of worms to deal with as I’m sure you can imagine. Luckily I don’t know of many other things because fuck that, I’m not trying to do everything Facebook has to offer. For me it’s mostly a place to spam links to blogs/writings.

Which leads me in a roundabout way to Instagram; it’s another market to get my writings out there. I don’t even know how you market a blog/story/author on Instagram (it’s all pictures, right? How do you market writing with pictures?) but figured I’d give it a shot. Ya know, take a shitty and abstract picture and plop some deep, insightful text on it and, bam, done. Sounds easy enough to YOLO an Instagram account.

I also have a few friends who are on there. One guy is a big inspiration; he makes an artform out of Instagram and I’ve been blatantly copying his technique. He’s a master at taking these awful, shitty, low-quality pictures, filtering the shit out of them, and writing what is basically poetry for captions. And they’re great! It’s a raw, no-bullshit form of art that is genius even given the derivativeness that is inherently Instagram. Just for the hell of it, I’ll toss a link to him. I think it’d be hilarious if he ends up with a bunch of followers because of this stupid blog post. And I’m not going to say a word to him about it either. So please follow leftclickmicrocosm_ on Instagram. Please make this happen.

I finally made an account and started my own version of posting low-quality bullshit with deep captions. A pic of a vape cloud along with a caption about two souls dancing. A blurry 757 flying at night. Corporate artwork with a cold and cruel caption. I’ll link a few below.

Wow, Instagram pics look amazing on a blog!

What’s strange is how weary I was to getting into another social media sphere to market my writings. It’s exhausting. Was I really going to write a shitty blog post in 50 minutes and then spend just as long marketing it on social media? Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Wattpad, and Instagram? That’s a lot of work. And I was terrified that I’d be sucked in by Instagram the same way Facebook and heroin are known to do. The constant chase of social popularity and approval, farming for ‘likes’ and whatnot. I didn’t want any part of it.

There is something refreshing about starting anew and Instagram is no different. You get a blank slate. You get to learn. You get to experiment. Since you’re starting from nothing, you also have nothing to prove. It’s been great! I’ve been posting these shitty, heavily filtered and ‘artistic’ images just for the fun of it. I don’t care if something doesn’t get as much feedback as other more popular pics; it’s enjoyable enough just to spam total bullshit without catering to some overarching goal. In this aspect I’ve failed; I haven’t marketed my writings at all on Instagram, totally missing the point of what I was intending to do in the first place. But it’s okay.

I also love how Insta‘s UI seems ‘simpler’ than Facebook‘s. The menu (if you can call it a menu) isn’t littered with total trash. The app is very minimalistic with only a few buttons to actually click. The filter/editing part is simply clicking buttons and moving sliders until you find the look you want. You slide things around until your picture looks delightfully artistic with a quality similar to an indie, low-fi garage album. Feedback and static in visual form. Slap on a flowery caption and you’re good to go.

Contrived deepness!

I know the site is kinda trash with influencers and people taking selfie after selfie in exotic locations, totally gaming the system trying to make their lives look idyllic. In some ways I think this is the surface-level Instagram sort of how bullshit news stories and stupid memes are the surface-level of Facebook. But there is potential for artistic expression if you allow it; if you stop trying to play the game that everyone else is playing. Because it’s Instagram and it’s what you do. Throughout my Instagram ‘career’ I’m going to attempt to hold onto this mindset and only do whatever random shit I want to do (while lovingly stealing others’ good ideas obviously) and not worrying too much about playing the social media game. But a week into it? I love it. It stomps the fuck out of Facebook. It’s easy, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I find myself not taking it — or myself — too seriously either.

In case all that shit above wasn’t enough, here’s a proper link. Follow me for my silly art pictures!

The "Woman Yelling at Cat" Meme Sucks

A Case Study of Meme Overuse and Eventual Death

We can’t have good things. We can never have good things. Because once something becomes popular enough the masses will get a hold of it and ruin it. Usually this doesn’t happen with most art forms because most art requires little to no participation from the audience. There are the creators of the art and the viewers of the art and the audience is relegated to be mere spectators of the art form. The read the book. They watch the movie. They look at the painting. They play no role in the creation of the art itself. The barrier of entry is usually fairly high to most standard forms of art; some jackass can’t make shitty music, plop it up on soundcloud, and become instantly famous. Some dickhead with canvas and acrylics from Walmart probably won’t paint a masterpiece that will end up in a museum. There’s a quality filter so to speak. But I think the most important attribute of most “normal” art is that it is static: once art is created it is finished and in its final form. There is no further input from anyone, especially the audience.

Memes are totally different and while I do consider them an artform they’re also a form of communication. This works because the barrier to entry with memes is terribly low; any dingbat can make memes and nothing requires you to actually be witty or good at making them to do so. And there is an audience for these poorly-crafted memes. Consider the horribly dumb populace that infests social media sites like Facebook and Twitter like roaches, you have dumbfucks creating stupid and unfunny memes who “don’t get it” and somehow their abominations are shared and propagated to the masses. It’s the equivalent of the soundcloud artist and amateur painter from above except they can somehow get notoriety with their shitty and terrible work. YouTube is a good example of this where anyone with a phone can plop videos up that everyone in the world can see. There is no filter to prevent bad content from spreading.

You can really notice this as a trend if you know where to look. The meme progression is usually something like this: some random person makes a meme with a narrow context or something. The meme is funny because it’s new and unique and sometimes hilariously confusing because it doesn’t seem to make sense. Think of advice animals: why would animals give advice? It’s entertaining in its absurdity. Or spiderman giving a presentation, etc. I call this initial phase the “proto-meme” phase because it sounds cool enough.

Having a deeper sense of social media put yous in direct touch with proto-memes. I’m not saying Reddit is deep social media exactly but it’s deeper than Facebook, which is about as shallow as a puddle in a driveway. I’ve seen countless memes in more or less original proto-form on Reddit before they mature and make the jump to more popular sites like Facebook. As an example, this is something I think is representative of the proto-meme style that may or may not become popular in the future. I’m especially fond of r/THE_PACK because of how absurd and ironic everything posted there is. It’s like the shit your skeleton-, gun-, flag-, and motorcycle-image sharing uncle shares on Facebook but turned up 1000 times in intensity. Here:

AROOO MFER! Credit: u/IronicMerman. (The style of THE_PACK is even more interesting when you consider the fact that they’re a bastardization of things shared on Facebook. They’re like a reverse of what usually happens to memes: instead of going to Facebook to die, the style is removed from Facebook and memeified.)

Reddit itself is probably more descriptive of the second phase of memes where their popularity grows and people improvise on the formula. I want to call this something like the “classic phase” or something. This is where memes gain enough social critical mass where you can use them in wider conversations and situations. The meme is adapted by many interest groups and cultures even if they have their origins in niche communities. Spongebob memes can make the jump from being unique to TV and movie communities into the wider public. Or a video game meme jumps ship and is adopted by countless other groups unrelated to video games. Creativity flourishes and each community puts their own spin on the meme and interprets it in their own way, creating a cornucopia of memes based off the same initial idea. And most importantly they hold true to the form and humor of the original proto-meme.

After the proto- and classical meme phases is what I’d call the popular phase of the meme. This is what happens when a meme grows up and is adopted by the masses for use. And by masses I mean everyone. Usually you know this phase is upon a meme when your hopelessly out-of-touch and mildly racist aunt Karen starts sharing them on Facebook. Think about Minions. Facebook is the prime example here because it’s where popular memes go to die. It’s where clueless and usually older people get their grubby Boomer hands on our beloved memes, misunderstanding and corrupting them into something that misses the entire point of the meme in the first place. Case in point: the woman and cat meme, the topic of this post. I’m sure you’ve seen it in your travels through Social Media Land recently.

I loved this meme originally. It had all the hallmarks of a good meme: originality, absurdity with a woman yelling at a cat sitting at a dinner table, and a versatility that was impressive. You could adapt the meme or variations of it to nearly anything you needed. I found this on reddit a half year ago, the meme altered and depicting a certain scenario from the video game Apex Legends:

Part of the appeal of a meme is its “inside joke” quality, and this is prime example of such. You won’t understand this at all unless you’ve played Apex.

And my sister sent me this gem where the meme is tweaked to be about video game choices. It highlights the absurdity of the semi-popular and mocked belief that video games cause violence: humor, absurdity, and social commentary all wrapped into a picture of a woman yelling at a cat. It’s also an example of how damn versatile the meme is/was.

And I can’t forget this gem I found which doesn’t depict the meme as usual but pays homage to The Shining. I love it.

Anyways, as stated above the natural progression of a meme that becomes too popular, a meme that has such critical mass that it transcends sub-pop and pop culture, is that it enters mainstream culture. When your parents, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents get a hold of it. It’s when people use the meme as it wasn’t intended, a bastardization where one realizes the creator doesn’t understand the meme’s appeal and humor in the first place. And the saddest thing of all is when the meme is fucking politicized and used unironically. When the humor is stripped out of it and it becomes a way to say something seriously. To prove a point. To make a stance. To yell your viewpoint bluntly at people. To disguise this as humor. This isn’t how memes are meant to be used.

This one depicts the meme as a conversation-frame type meme, a misuse of its original intentions. I mean it’s now a lady having a conversation with a cat. Okay. It’s also kinda dumb.

I was originally going to only post the image, but realized that including the poster/uploader — the eloquently titled page “Cornbread & Cooter” — might say something about the type of people that fuck the memes up in the first place. Think of someone you personally know that would actually follow a page called “Cornbread & Cooter:” they’re probably a fucking moron. Sadly, my dad shared this.

This one depicts the cat looking at Greta Thunberg. Once again, Okay…

As above, I included the poster, “Country Folks & Patriot’s.” I don’t know why there’s an apostrophe there, but hey, I’m not surprised. Without looking you know it’s a page followed by a bunch of old out-of-touch people that live off a steady diet of Fox News and they took a popular meme and fucked it up and politicized it. And once again it isn’t even funny because it’s trying too hard to prove a point. There’s no humor because it has been replaced by a subtle hatred for Greta only disguised as humor, not that these people give a shit about the trees cut down in the first place.

And countless others that I don’t even want to think about. Naturally I don’t save these when I come across them and only upon writing a blog post do I have to hunt them down. And searching through a handful of Cornbread & Cooter’s images leaves you feeling exhausted with society and people in general. Sometimes I want to go hang myself.

The meme is then basically dead. When people who are out of touch with the original intent and humor get ahold of a meme and defile it, no one who properly knows how to use the meme will do so. It then becomes “uncool” to use (unless you’re being ironic) and the real meme-proficient people, creators, and wizards will stop using it. The funny thing is after the meme falls out of favor with its initial fans and adopters it will still find heavy use in the out-of-touch community because they have no idea that it’s not funny anymore. Once again think Minion memes. The only time these dead memes will finally disappear is when the out-of-touch crowd finds newer, fresher, and unmurded memes to leech onto and then kill. It’s a vicious cycle. The popularity of a meme is what will kill it.

Luckily, some memes seem to transcend this fate by being popular but not popular enough to be adapted by the demographics that will kill them. A few examples I can think of is Elon Musk smoking pot and the goddamn “Here we go again” screenshot from Grand Theft Auto 3: San Andreas. It’s pretty easy to see why they haven’t been widely adopted. Elon smoking pot is just too vague for popular adaptation because you need to know the backstory to see the humor in it. And CJ from GTA is hopelessly (and luckily) stuck within video game cultures and can’t transcend out of it.

A fresh cross adapting a GTA meme into something Stardew Valley related.

I suppose the real death knell of memes is when they end up on t-shirts or whatever. This kills the meme. When you start seeing memes on shirts the humor and the inside joke quality of it are just wiped out, murdered, with zero hope of return. And, oh, would you look at this…

HE’S DEAD, JIM. And no I’m not giving credit for this image because things like this can just go fuck right off into hell.

Sorry lady-yelling-at-cat meme. You were one of the better ones, but all good things must come to an end. A victim of your own success you were and while you’ve followed countless other memes into oblivion and while you’re surely not the last to do so, we will fondly remember the times when your were young, new, and full of promise to all of us. Farewell and Godspeed.

Note: I bitched a little bit about Facebook here, as I’ve done in many past posts, and if you’re curious for an entire book bitching about the negative things about Facebook, I wrote an ebook on it. Please check it out if you’re interested!

Writing Kinda Sucks

“…I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work.”

Hunter S. Thompson

I think when we pick up any new hobby or interest we only see the positives. We see the glory of it — the big picture of it all. As a painter you imagine relaxing at home and just creating beautiful artwork. Or the pianist sitting at their instrument creating interesting and wonderful music. Or the author, bringing magical worlds to life that only exist on paper and in the imagination of your readers. You dream of actually making it by publishing your books, selling your artwork, or ending up in a successful band, etc. When we undertake a new goal or hobby we rightfully only see the good because it’s where we want to be in our lives. But to get to the good you have to toil away with the total bullshit that no one talks about.

Prospective writers and authors also have their own fantasy: sitting at a desk with a cup of coffee and a dog in the corner/cat in your lap while you let your imagination run wild with ideas that you effortlessly slap down on paper/PC/typewriter/whatever the fuck you’re using. Anyone who has even attempted writing will instantly know this is bullshit. No one idolizes the times where you’re staring at your computer at 11 p.m. and while wanting to write something realizing that you have no idea for what to actually write. Or maybe you have an idea but it doesn’t come out right and you can’t get into a flow. There’s also the opposite problem like with me right now: awake at 2 a.m. suddenly finding yourself inspired to write a blog post about writing. The idea just appears out of the ether and you gotta grab the inspiration before it disappears.

I always thought writing was easy. It’s not that it’s hard like math is hard; it’s a different sort of difficult. I was always the type of person to procrastinate school papers until the night before they were due and knocked them out in a few hours of furious typing; I’d always get good grades by doing this too. Maybe this is where I got the “writing is easy” idea from, and I know for a fact it’s where I got my dreadful procrastination from. (Why plan anything out when you can knock it out in a few frightful hours?!) But writing isn’t easy. Let me walk you through a typical writing process for me. I’m assuming everyone else has similar issues and the more we write the more we learn to manage and minimize these pain-in-the-ass traits that writing entails.

Inspiration

This sounds stupid, but you need to have something to write about before you write. You need a story idea or a blog post idea or something. Once again this was never a problem in high school or college when people told you what to write. Now that you’re doing this on your own you need to figure out your own ideas. These ideas almost have to accidentally come to you and this is frustrating, especially in regards to blogging. We all know that frequently posting is a good idea, but you also need ideas for your posts. You end up torn between spam-posting low quality stuff day-after-day or postponing things for so long that you appear to be unreliable. It’s a pain in the ass.

It’s even worse for fiction writing as you need to conjure up characters, a plot, themes, and whatever else, and as I mentioned earlier you can’t seem to force this part. You can’t sit down and force yourself to write a good story with no plot in mind. You have to sit around and brainstorm and hope something good comes along. Even so, this isn’t an invitation to procrastinate in terms of perfection: you still need to get off your ass and write! It sounds contradictory huh?

The Writing

After you have an idea you can get to work on it. This is the actual fun part of writing where you can let your ideas run wild. Writing is the transformation of ideas into concrete words and sentences that other people can enjoy. It’s timeless and romantic and amazing to do when you get in the zone. You’re literally creating new worlds that have never been created! Bringing into existence people, creatures, and things that have never existed outside of your mind! It’s amazing! Sometimes you start typing and are surprised with what you’ve written, as if the ideas materialized out of thin air. What you write might be fantastically good, or shine light on some subconscious workings of your mind that you’re not even aware of. It’s this part of writing that is the most addictive. This is what I love about writing.

The Editing

For fucks sake this part is awful. I worked for hours day-after-day to finally edit my two ebooks and it wasn’t enjoyable at all. This is the part of the writing process where you take your random, rough, and rambling writings and clean the things up. You’re hunting around for grammatical errors, factual errors, spelling errors, and any other errors imaginable. For fictional stories you’re also making sure the characters’ names and jobs are consistent and that everything makes sense. I realized in one one of my stories that a character was terribly inconsistent in two of the chapters he’s in and it’s something that needs to be fixed. Sometimes you need to move paragraphs and chapters around or even delete the damn things. Sometimes you find irrelevant trash that you have no idea how it ended up in the work in the first place. Chapters about nothing in particular. This step is tedious, boring, time consuming and all around awful.

The End

Somehow if you pull all of this shit together you will have a finished product, be it a story, a novel, a blog post, or even a fancy self-help instructional guide. Whatever. And this is what makes it all worth it I suppose. When you can feel good for sitting through some not-very-fun bullshit to actually create something. When you’ve suffered through all of the difficult and tedious shit long enough to have something to show to others and something that you can be proud of. It doesn’t even matter if what you’ve created is trash because at least you’ve created something. How many countless others have wanted to create something but never got around to doing so? How many people fail before they even start?

But Not the End

Oh yeah, even once you have a finished product on your hands you’re still not finished with the process yet. The more I’ve been writing the more I’ve realized about the other shitty demon involved with trying to be an author: self-promotion. I’m also terrible at it. The fact is even if you wrote a masterpiece no one will buy it or even know about it if you don’t promote yourself. This involves goofy terms like “networking” and “advertising” and “getting yourself out there” and a few other nebulous terms that I despise while not being able to think of them right this moment. Let’s not forget the bloggers’ “SEO” stuff too!

As a side rant I’ve seen this problem mostly with MLM-Facebookers trying to pedal their wraps, diet pills, CBD oils, etc. These people try to sell products to their friends and family first without realizing that they can’t limp by selling products only to them. It’s the same with being an author: even if you have five or ten friends/family that love your writings they cannot support you completely. You can’t be a successful artist if only those people are purchasing your products. You need to branch out and find other customers!

I also think this is antithetical the the stereotypical writer as well, at least for me it is: I’m a person that likes to stay inside my head and someone who has confidence issues. A classic introvert I am. I really do think my writing isn’t good enough for people to actually want to read and am constantly surprised when I hear positive feedback on it. Obviously I’m terrible at self-promotion. It always comes across as begging or cringy when I try to get new people to read my writings. It’s hard to do. I wish I could ignore the self-promotion aspect of writing but it seems to go hand in hand with it. You simply can’t git gud at writing where everyone magically loves you. You need to put yourself out there for people to find you in the first place.

As a general closing note here: writing generally takes a long time! It takes much longer than you’d expect it to take. Consider this blog post: it’s only about twelve paragraphs long so take a guess how long I worked on it? I wrote it in 20 or 30 minutes, and have been editing/proofreading it for about an hour and a half (!!!). I also need to add tags to it, make a banner for it, proofread it again and then post it. In total I’d say this post — which is a total low-effort “quick” post — took a total of two to three hours from start to finish. Writing kinda sucks.