Over on Deadspin.com (if you have the time, I highly recommend reading the first 9 paragraphs), Will Leitch took a deeper look into a recent New York Times food review of Guy Fieri’s new restaurant in Times Square, particularly the response to the review. The response, summed up, basically went like this: ‘Well, what did you expect? Of course it’s horrible.’
He takes this example and expands on it to the world in general:
I bring all this up because I think we're starting to care more about popularity and financial success than legitimate quality. All right, so that's hardly news; that's always been the case, as a general rule, for most of humanity's reign. But now the smart people are doing it: People who should know better. I'm talking about you, dear reader: You, me, all of us.
In this phenomena he includes everything from shallow viral content (ala BuzzFeed) and Tim Tebow to dumb Facebook games. I know you have fallen prey to this crap (I sure have), whether it’s watching Gangnam Style or clicking on and scrolling through some dumb slideshow of internet memes. Our interconnectedness makes it so easy to share this crap and our “boredom” (aka wasting so much time on sites like Facebook and Twitter) gives us the excuse to click through.
He even hits the nail on the head why it’s so bad now:
We have become a culture that, because we can quantify things in a way we've never been able to before, are acting as if those numbers are all that matter Because so much of our world has become niche, when something appeals to a large number of people, we just assume it's worthy of our attention.
1,000,000 video views… 250,000 Facebook likes… 33,000,000 Twitter followers… 1,000,000 page views. You know, the numbers you see every day online. (And yeah, I just disabled all of the sharing count BS on my site!)
We're lowering the bar. We're being distracted by shiny objects. We need to stop it.
Yes, exactly. I feel like we have a little better oversight with our money, but it’s not that much better than the other two aspects we “spend”: our time and attention.
We need to expect more of ourselves, the people we interact with on a daily basis, AND the places (stores, web sites, restaurants, etc.) we frequent. If you think a place sucks, don’t go there. No more, “it’s McDonald’s, of course it’s shitty and a horrible experience.” Don’t go. Demand more and back it up with your decisions. Anything else is either pure laziness or poor habit. There are plenty of places that will gladly take your money and give you better service/food.
If a site like Facebook feels like a waste of time and you don’t find value in the stuff you see there, don’t go! (Or how about a compromise? Only visit once per day!) Don’t do it to waste time or because you think “maybe I’ll miss something!” (Pro tip: you won’t. If it’s worth anything it will find you or be there next time you check.) Why not “waste” your time by starting a project, doing that thing you’ve been putting off, or making something worthwhile? Seems like a better choice, right?
I know. It’s easier said than done. So why not try it out with your next “where to spend my time, attention, or money” decision and see where it goes? I do know that maybe eliminating all of those “Damn You Autocorrect!” slideshows from your life may be detrimental (after all, laughing is an important aspect of happiness too), but I’d argue you’d probably find lots of funny stuff to laugh at if you spent your time and attention elsewhere too.