Auntie is still hanging out on the Bird app, and prior to the hostile takeover by the Muskrat and The Deplorables, you all know that I found it to be a rather amusing and often inspiring space for various kinds of content. So far this month, I have seen all kinds of egregious acts of tomfoolery and self-destruction; therefore, I feel compelled to make this very important announcement in case anyone needs a reminder at the start of this new year.
Y'all need to be A LOT more discerning. I implore you to heed the wisdom from this scene in The Social Network (2010) where the woman Mark Zuckerburg previously dated dresses him down for having made crude remarks about her in a chat room after they had broken up. In case you decide not to watch the entire clip, allow me to paraphrase the important part: the shit you say on the internet is like writing on a white board with a Sharpie!
It doesn't go away. It may not come up as one of the first few hits on Google, but trust that some over-eager hiring manager or determined potential romantic partner will find whatever you should not have said/done/posted somewhere. Unless you were lucky enough to have been one of those people whose hate speech was inscribed on some old forgotten Geocities blog or an Ask Jeeves bulletin board, trust that everything you say and do can be spun against you.
I know that some of you think that if you go to great lengths to obscure your identity, you can say whatever. You may have a decoy profile or use an alias. And that might work unless and until someone who knows you in real life reveals your Clark Kent alter ego. I've done it inadvertently to a few folks without any nefarious intent, but there is an entire show on MTV called Catfish that unmasks social media pretenders and phonies. I'm just saying that one of the many reasons why you need to be mindful of what you are putting out in the cyber-universe is that somebody, somewhere is going to discover that it was you and put all of your business in these tweets.
For example, if you decide to post one of those Am I The Asshole (AITA) queries on Reddit, I am here to tell you that (a) yes, you probably are and you know it because everyone who actually knows you already said so; and (b) crowdsourcing for affirmation of your shitty behavior in and of itself implies that you are indeed very much an asshole. Now, I am not a subscriber, but because some of the most polarizing queries make their way over to Twitter, I rarely read one where the person and/or behavior isn't totally outrageous. And because some of y'all aren't that clever, I have seen quite a few instances where the original poster is outed because of some random detail they didn't realize was a big NEON clue.Six Brown Chicks for years. I don't remember when I first encountered that account, but it was at some point before all of us began actively developing social media addictions because of the pandemic. (But definitely after they had been on Iyalya, Fix My Life and I am 💀 because how y'all gonna post other people's dysfunctional mess when woah?) I read some wild stuff in those tweets, and initially assumed that it was one of those spot the real story among these five fakes, kind of like the Bluff the Listener segment on NPR's Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me. So color me all the way shocked with pearls clutched when I learned that ALL of the stories submitted are allegedly real! I mean, dayum...
(I hope the names are changed to protect the terminally dumb, because woowee, there are a lot more stupid people in the world than there should be. And some of y'all are definitely repeat offenders.)
Since the pandemic has all of the young people vying for internet infamy on the Click Clock app, I get to see whatever someone re-posts to Twitter, and let me just say how I would have preferred for y'all to have kept much of that to yourselves. I can't even understand half of the language used (such as un-aliving, which appears to annoy my Spell-check as well), but I honestly do not understand why everything has to be revealed like Geraldo Rivera cracking Al Capone's vault. What is the point?
Like why is there an entire genre of videos where y'all opine on how much you hate dating? Here's a thought, just stop. If you believe women only want to eat out on your dime and men only want sex, then umm yeah, that ain't new. That was definitely a consistent theme of dating back when I was out there in the 90s. Therefore, if you are a person who was born at any point in that decade, then I can't credibly ask who raised you since I already know (and I'm so disappointed that we ruined your lives like that). These young adults are our confused, socially maladjusted children, GenXers, born in the era when we went on Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake to air our dirty laundry instead of going to the laundromat and/or getting therapy.
It was also in the 90s that the rules began to change around gender equality, and I was taught that it was acceptable to pay for my own meals, so as not to set up any unreasonable or inappropriate expectations. That came in handy when I was away at college where nobody had much money. As such, there were no existential dilemmas about who paid for what because we were all broke and hungry. On-campus dating was a bootleg video, pizza ordered for everyone on the hallway, and maybe a soda if somebody had extra change. Some of my friends who regularly went on those dorm dates are still married!
In contrast, single folks in the 21st Century are out here in the tweets posting screen shots of pre-date questionnaires sent in lieu of first-date small talk, which is deemed a waste of time. Some of you get really salty about splitting the check for multi-course dinners at The Olive Garden where you ordered and ate 2/3 of the food. Folks are naming and claiming their ideal mate in the name of Jesus and a lot of these self-styled relationship experts you follow are just charlatans selling advice from their cars. No wonder everybody is ruined and confused.
I know I veered off topic a bit (because dangit, that's how my middle-aged brain works these days), but the bottom line is that if your child leaves a thirsty, threatening, and profanity laden voicemail for my daughter, trust that I am going to find them. And if I get arrested, I got bail money. But more importantly, she has a Daddy who grew up in Brooklyn in the 80s, so there's that.
Here is my real point: how many jobs have you lost because of your thoughtless faith in free speech? Don't you know that your viral, racist rants have been viewed by some HR person who decided that the tatted stoner would be less problematic? The late Kevin Samuels gave good advice on personal grooming, and I hope that his undertakers followed through so that his Mama was pleased. Young Sis, these dudes you date ain't isht because they weren't looking to you for any lifelong connections when your profile pic was all boobs and ass. And to that dude with no job who was angry at the woman who didn't immediately respond to his 'WYD' text message because she was on her J-O-B, c'mon Son? The cost of infamy is high like the price of eggs...
Haven't you seen how swiftly social media 'justice' gets dispensed? These folks will find you quicker than the amount of time it takes for me to realize that my reading glasses are on my face! Life comes at you fast, my beloved. And when it does, don't come back on Blue Ivy's internet to decry cancel culture as if the world ought to just let you be an idiot with no consequences. This ain't the 1960s when the only evidence of your inner thoughts might have been some historic photograph...
Years ago, when I was teaching, I showed this photo of Elizabeth Eckford (Black lady in shades, of the Little Rock Nine) in class, and of course someone commented on the faces in the background, including that of Hazel Bryan (the one who appears to be yelling at Eckford). To be honest, I never wondered about that woman or what might have happened to her until the student raised the question in class. In my research for an answer, I learned that the two women had met, reconciled, and had posed for another picture that was intended to demonstrate the power of forgiveness and racial healing. Kumbaya, they were even friends for a while, until...
You can read for yourself about what happened in the aftermath. My assumption of what contributed to the breakdown is exactly the kind of consequences that y'all think you shouldn't face. You think that people ought to forgive you for being young, but youth doesn't change the impact of your actions. I don't know what it must have been like to live with the weight of that photo for all of those years, but I do know that an apology was not the kind of eraser she hoped it would have been. It was just a start on the road to healing.
Take it from someone who wore stirrup pants and acid wash jeans in the 80s, mistakes happen. However, the difference between a mistake and a bad choice is intention. It was a bad choice to ridicule the girl in my class back in middle school to try to look cool to the other kids. I can't undo the harm I caused. If we were to cross paths all of these years later, my feeble apology wouldn't mean much except maybe to assuage my guilt, so I have no right to expect anything, not even a polite acknowledgement. Therefore, the lesson Auntie is offering to you youngins is that when you know you're about to do wrong, for goodness sakes, don't make a permanent record of your foolishness! Or just don't do it.
Dassit, that's the word. As my Daddy used to tell me: A wise man learns from the mistakes of others; the average man learns from his own mistakes; but a fool never learns. If you can't be wise enough not to do dumb things in the first place, then for goodness sakes don't be the fool. Don't immortalize your shit unless you plan to run for Congress as a Republican (and something tells me they gonna drag this one forever, and it won't end well for them either).