“Eight completely serious reasons you should pee in the shower today.” “15 times Rand Paul had a better hair day than you.” “Fritz the adorable dog who can’t catch.”
These are all headlines from a website called, “Distractify.” All of them are accompanied by an attention-grabbing photo.
You don’t have to go to the website to see them. They are probably in your newsfeed.
I hate it and I’m guilty. Maybe you’ve been there, too. You can’t stop from clicking on a complete waste of time. And, you’ve been given notice. After all, the byline identifies it as “Distractify.” I don’t have time for this nonsense and neither do you. But here we are.
Distractify and similar “services” are the functional equivalent of a bag of chips. Not on your diet but there it is. Bag open. Stick your hand in and grab one. Then another. Before you know it, 20 minutes are gone and you know more about celebrity makeups and breakups than you ever wanted to know.
It’s up to us to do something about this. Those posts wouldn’t be there unless an online “friend” put it there.
Would you really leave an opened gallon of ice cream in front of a friend that you know is dieting? Is that “news story” one that you would bring up in an actual conversation? Probably not.
Here’s what you should do: Think before you post. DO NOT link or share Distractify posts. I don’t want to be distracted. If a true friend posts a message, then I want to know what that friend has to say. It may not be the provocative picture or headline that prompts the click. It may be because it is you, dear friend, that put it there. Be a good friend.
Don’t distract your friends. Use social media for its true purpose – posting pictures of your cat. OK, there are some other, limited, uses. Posts from the Onion get a “like.” But posts that say you “like” Wal-Mart don’t. You’ve got to step up your game. Be entertaining, not distracting.
Don’t put up one of those posts that threaten something horrible will happen if I don’t repost within a few seconds. Sarcasm is appreciated. Cheap sentiment is not. Tributes are kind of awkward. Throwback Thursday is getting tiresome. Not so much with the recipes, but grilling tips are always welcome.
You lose stock with me with every invitation to play Candy Crush Saga or some other game that wants me to share my entire contact list. No, Candy Crush Saga, I think too much of my friends to share their contact information with you. Same for you, Farmville and Words with Friends.
I recently took an entire week off from all media, except email. It was a productive week. I’m thinking about making it a month next time.
If something really important happens, hopefully someone will let me know. Hopefully, people will know what’s really important.
Today is National Farm Animal Day. It is a day to be mindful of the plight of farm animals. Not important. Justin Bieber is going to do a lip sync of an Ozzie Osborne song. Not important. A big tornado or terrorist attack nearby? Please let me know.
Maybe it’s time for you to take a break, too. Distractify has a list to help you know when. Things like: closing your laptop and getting on your iPhone, having a genuine dislike for someone you’ve never met and don’t know their real name and speaking in Internet abbreviations (IMHO).
As for me, I’m logging off for a few weeks. Maybe I’ll see you IRL.
Column by Kevin Qualls, Professor of mass communications