See The Best- Fuck The Rest.

Today I installed my new keyboard and so I am happy to report I am typing away happily without fumbling around, like an Australian politician trying to decide if gays should marry.

Classic comedy aside, though- I want to talk about something that’s bothering me- “Best Of” algorithms. The simple version is the most popular posts get on the top of your feed, so everyone can see it.

Facebook was the first to take part in this with its newsfeed putting the “best” posts out there. This is abhored by many, and many go out of their way to work around this- because quite frankly what the website thinks is the best and what you’re interested in often doesn’t align. Sadly, now twitter and instagram are going to be implementing a “Best Of” too.

This is a terrible, terrible idea.

The internet is a sanctuary. A place where the socially awkward could put out their comic or music or fetish art of darth vader and a gnome, and through the internet, it had a chance.It gave us a megaphone, we were for once on equal footing. We got our ideas together, put them out there, crossed our fingers, reached out to who we could and hope it got people’s attention.

Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. It’s all messages in bottles,hoping someone picks it up and reads it.

But when it did click? It was amazing. Take for example this here comic:

You knew exactly what this was, didn’t you. (If you didn’t I’m really surprised you’re reading my blog)

When The Force Awakens came out, this was the comic that made the rounds and was on EVERYBODY’S facebook pages. All the feels, etc.

Now, as you can see, the artist released this first on tumblr, which has yet to do “Best of” algorithms. It is a chronological order of post, with no favouritism given. Classic internet, essentially, and while it’s debatable how much that affected its popularity, never less the comic flourished and popped up everywhere!

Now let’s compare that to a post on my facebook page, with a meagre but respectable 462 fans, recommending the immeasurable Melbourne actor Laura Jane Turner (who you should give a look at). My post reached 9 of those fans.

Not 90. Not 19.

9.

This is because of FB’s algorithm.

This is Diet Internet, and it tastes fucking disgusting.

To put it bluntly, facebook’s algorithm for pages of any kind AND personal profiles is at best broken and at worst, a horrible example of corporate greed.

It wasn’t, once.Facebook gave everybody the same footing. Then DietInternet popped into the market, and FB invested, hard. Soon, fans couldn’t see their beloved idols work. It was hidden. They had hidden it behind a paywall.

You have to pay to reach your fans who want to hear from you.

Think about it this way. You’re a comedian, you build a following, a dedicated audience, you get them to come to the gig, in a free venue! Awesome! They all arrive, are excited to hear from you. You’re about to hit the stage when the owner of the venue grabs your arm and says
“I’ve put your audience in seats that are soundproof unless I push this button, and I won’t unless you pay me $10”
“…Uh, okay, for like the show?”
“HAHAHA… No. For each joke you make.”

What do you do? They’re there. They want to hear you. You’re broke, but maybe you’ll recoup costs eventually? Moving them all will be such a hassle, maybe just try and make it work.

Is this unfair? Not necessarily. You chose that venue after all. Is it however, pretty goddamn despicable? You bet.

And now, instagram and twitter are following facebook’s lead. Having popular people continue to be popular making their popular post super popular, while those who could really use the soapbox to take off will struggle.

Sadly, I don’t think it’ll stop at “Best Of”.

Next, you’ll see a paywall.

Then you’ll be encourage to pay.

Then you’ll be penalized not to pay.

Then you’ll cough up when you have to, to sell that comedy or like the Star Wars comic above. You will pay, because you have nowhere else to put your stuff.

To put it honestly? I have no solutions.

Once upon a time, if you put something out there, it had a chance. It had as much of a chance as anybody- because the internet gave us all the same megaphone. In our world today connection is so much easier. Putting your work out there and finding your audience is a steady workload of promotion away.

Now it’s about being popular, or coughing up the cash.

That should not be enough. Work should not go under the radar just because they don’t have the funds to reach an audience, especially an audience that has already come to see them at the venue.

But, sadly, that’s the direction social media is going down.

This is utterly despicable and ultimately out of our control. We are getting a free service, and we have no choice but to swallow the bitter pills they give us, or move on.

The internet is becoming less and less equal.

And now I’m sad.

Don’t Take The Personal Experience™ Personally

Well, hi!

So with my last bit of writing, I seemed to strike a chord with people in a way I secretly hoped, but didn’t expect to. Gaiman said it best when he said that your work is like a little message in a bottle put out to sea, amongst thousands of other little bottles, hoping yours gets picked up by someone, and they too will make a message saying they liked it, put it in a bottle and send it back to you. Often, it just isn’t to be.

On that note, I’m fairly sure I referenced that exact same Gaiman speech in my last entry, so let’s move on.

gaiman judging me.jpg
I can’t even be original when I’m quoting other people. *judgmental Neil*

I started writing this article yesterday with the idea of talking about my despair with social media, and while this is very relevant to me, personally- it’s not a new idea, and it’s certainly one I’ve ranted about in the past.

To friends who have heard this from me before? Bear with me.

Older folks will be the first to say that we’re too connected. That we don’t take the time to be outside anymore. I guess they’re neglecting the time they spent with TV/Radio/Newspapers/Pulp comics/nudie mags, but I digress.

Recently though, I can’t deny that facebook, the epitome of ‘personal social media experience’, is getting the better of me. I often find myself on two trains of thought.

1: Wow, what a useful tool for my career!

2: Fuck this fucking thing, all it’s doing is making me miserable-CAN YOU STOP REMINDING ME ABOUT HOW I WAS FRIENDS WITH THAT PERSON TWO YEARS AGO?!

Today, I’m on #2. It’s not pleasant. Facebook is this weird bubble, worse in a way than any social media network that’s come before it, at least for me.

It’s all about ‘friends’.

It’s not ‘followers’. You can lose a follower. It’s not about ‘subscribers’, that’s their business if they don’t like my content. It’s about ‘friends’, and fuckalmighty does that make it sting when relationships crumble.

Stand By Me, the hit film of 86, made a point with 10 year old me that I’ll never forget. “Friends move in and out of your life like busboys at a restaurant”.

Thanks for the wisdom Wil Wheaton!

That’s natural, it happens. Friends move on. Even in the more dramatic situations- you were a dick, they were a dick, or you were genitalia together, you’re allowed to make mistakes. But on facebook, your failure is there to see. Unfriended. Over. Done. *Dead Pacman Noise*

Enjoy your ‘personal social media experience’ dry heaving in grief over your keyboard, you pathetic mess!

But even worse for me personally? The professional contacts. I feel like this is the social media version of high heeled shoes. Cool concept, but painful as hell to execute.  You don’t know them, and more than likely after the professional thing you had is said and done, your facebook friendship lingers on way past its expiration date.

But you won’t cut the tie, and you know why? The potential of something. A close professional relationship where you have each other’s back- maybe something more…?

What a witty gif you just posted. Be here in 20 minutes. 😉

THEN they cut the tie on YOU.

WHAT?!

WHAT?!

Slow down, bud. Think about it for a sec.

They didn’t do anything wrong. They just saw what you didn’t. They were more self aware than you- they knew your relationship with them was strictly professional, so they decided to trim the fat on their ‘personal social media experience’.

After all, facebook is just for friends! Don’t take it personally!

Huh? Why did we add each other in the first place then…? Good question.

I’l give an example from my own life- I did a show one time with a girl, she was kinda cool, we were bros for a while. She asked me acting questions after, we did another show together, bro relationship went down a bit but still okay.

Months pass.
No talking no talking-
“Hey I’m doing a one woman show!” “Sorry can’t make it.”
No talking no talking no talking-
“Hey I’m doing a comedy show!” No response.
No talking no talking-

UNFRIENDED.

That right there? Is the definition of “don’t take it personally”. Even if she had a problem with something I had done, she didn’t have the guts to confront me about it, so what can be done? It’s not personal!

Don’t take it personally!

But how can I not?

That’s what Facebook is FOR  after all. A personal experience. I’m an actor. I need to keep contact with people that might give me work. I’m also a depressed person, and judge myself most harshly of all. Every time I have someone deleted me, it’s a little knife wound I can’t deny.

Obvious image use is obvious. Still, if it ‘aint broke.

This makes me question the whole idea of personal connection to our technology. I miss the days of vague hand gestures when someone asks “Are you and Carol good?” Because you legitimately didn’t know.

That’s not a bad thing, either. Hell, by the time you see Carol again, maybe she’ll have forgiven you for not cleaning up the piss you left on the toilet seat you disgusting heathen.

But in this ‘personal social media experience’, there is no grey. There is only knowledge that that person is not your friend anymore, carol is not your friend, and your piss staining ways are not in her life anymore.

“You’re not my friend anymore.”
“You’re not my friend anymore.”
“You’re not my friend anymore.”

Sound familiar?

Remember saying that exact phrase?

“YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!”

Yeah you do.

You were a ton shorter at the time and couldn’t go outside without a hat.


I SAID DON’T POST SPOILERS! YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE! 

We’ve been downgraded to the squabbles we had at four years old. And no, you’re not invited to my birthday party. These ‘personal social media experience’s are, in my opinion, making it harder and harder for us to trust one another and build healthy relationships.

Where does this leave me? Should I become a hermit in the woods Perhaps. But not today. There are some positives to our technology, and ‘personal experiences.’

Today I did a little bit of research on the new phase of gaming that will be entering our consciousness in a big way in the next few years- Virtual Reality gaming.

Ghost Busters meets GI JOE. I dig it immensely.

Long story short, we’re gaining the ability to walk around a warehouse space and shoot zombies. AND you can do it today, in Melbourne! Incidentally, if that sounds like a good time, hit me the hell up.

This is really cool. It’s amazing in fact. Our technology seamlessly integrates with our lives to the point where we can spend an hour walking around deaf, blind and by the end, sweating our tits off- and all in the pursuit of a fictional goal. We are so connected to our virtual selves in this moment that gamers who stereotypically are seen as lazy exercise haters (and rightly so)- will actually exercise, because these people have created a seamless ‘personal experience’.

Hell, in my work, in anybody’s for that matter- aren’t we trying to make something that connects with someone? To make them feel engaged? Can I really fault Facebook for what is clearly my own personal issues projected by a feature that the social media forum could not function without?

In reality, the only way I can make it better for myself is to slowly extricate myself from Facebook, maintain my page, and cross my everything that it doesn’t cost me too many opportunities. But even today, before writing this, one of the first things I did was lament the loss of above bro I did two plays with.

Whatever you choose to believe though, you can’t deny the power social media holds over us now. To the point where if I saw Carol who had unfriended me over the piss stained toilet seat, I would assume we’re not friends anymore. Because of a button pushed.

But maybe Carol was still open to being friends if I just apologised?

I would know nothing of that. I would simply ignore her, because I would think that’s what’s appropriate to do with someone who doesn’t like me. Damage done. From there, Carol would see me ignoring them and ignore me too. A friendship dead.

Where as before this fucking social media took hold, I could see a world where I, awkward as I am, would go up to Carol, and awkwardly apologise for being such a dick, and she would laugh, and I would laugh, and she would hand me a roll of toilet paper as a truce and we would ride off into the sunset together.

A likely scenario even then? Nah. But now it seems nigh impossible. The social dance has 12 more steps thanks to social media, and we don’t quite know how to dance them yet. In the meantime, we will squabble like four year olds, and end friendships that could’ve lasted much longer in another age.

And on that note, I’m gonna go play Tomb Raider. Another age? Eh?

(I really wish I could say every piece I do won’t end with a lame joke. I really, really do.)

-Jack

TL;DR: If you’re not quite mentally stable, social media can be a bitch, and video games are fun.

You can find me on my website or my twitter!