Social Media Slime

I have been thinking about social media a lot lately. About how it’s not what it was in the early days – about how we’re all now just commodities trading our information for advertising. How all of these “free” services we use like Facebook and Twitter are really places where WE are the product being sold to advertising and marketing and data manipulation companies. I don’t watch TV, and I have ad-free YouTube, but the advertising is still there.

Like slime, all over all of our connections and conversations. There is still some good I think, on the internet, but social media reminds me more and more of the Frank Zappa song “I am the Slime”. (Which, by the way, I can quote in its entirety, having memorized it as a child. I have no idea why I memorized THIS song, but I can still quote it.)

I am gross and perverted
I’m obsessed ‘n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed

I’m the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can’t look away
I make you think I’m delicious
With the stuff that I say

I’m the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I’m the slime oozin’ out
From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don’t need you
Don’t go for help . . . no one will heed you

Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold

That’s right, folks . . .
Don’t touch that dial

I’m pretty sure at this point the rights to all of us have long been sold. And yet… I still check twitter whenever I have downtime. I still post and curate on Facebook, and my grove advertises there. I page through Instagram before bed, looking at pretty pictures of fat activists, plus size yogi/nis, cosplayers, witches, pagans, and SCA folks. 

Slime, indeed. 

Dear Food: Please shut up.

I’m really tired of my food telling me why I’m eating it.

Take Cheerios. According to the box, the only reason you are eating Cheerios is a) to lower your cholesterol or b) to lose weight.

Remember that dipshit commercial about Multi Grain Cheerios where the (stereotypical idiot) husband is asking his (stereotypically thin, wearing a grey sweatshirt) wife if she’s eating Multi Grain Cheerios to lose weight? Because obviously the only reason she’d be eating that shit is to lose weight?

Doesn’t that actually do the product a DISSERVICE? I mean, diet food doesn’t exactly have a great history. Loudly proclaiming that the only reason someone must be eating your product is because they’re a slave to the scale doesn’t seem like a particularly positive endorsement.

But then, there it is on the box. Make Multi Grain Cheerios part of your WEIGHT LOSS PLAN. (Whatever this week’s plan is.)

And then? If you want to eat a banana with your Cheerios? THOSE CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT TOO. I bought bananas recently that had a “LOSE WEIGHT WITH BANANAS” sticker on them. It led to a website where you could, purportedly, input your weight loss plan that included eating lots of Brand Name Bananas (I didn’t get that far because the website required email verification). Never mind eating bananas because they’re delicious, or because they have lots of fiber and vitamins, or because they’re easy on your stomach when you have the food poisoning.

BANANAS FOR WEIGHT LOSS.

I have a bag of brown sugar that says “Gluten Free” on it, proudly, in big letters. I’ve bought strawberries that say “Trans-Fat Free!” on the label. Strawberries. Like, whole fresh berries with the leaves still on. Yeah, they’re trans-fat free!

It’s like TJ’s snicker’s bar – why is my food telling me why I’m eating it? I know, I know, it’s because food is an INDUSTRY now. It’s all about advertising and product placement. Eat THESE bananas and not THOSE bananas. See? OUR bananas make you lose weight. OUR cereal makes you skinny.

Doesn’t anyone eat food because it’s good anymore? Or because it has nutrients? Are we so afraid of being/getting/continuing to be “fat” (whatever fat is) that we can’t evaluate our food based on the actual food itself instead of what it’s supposedly going to do for us as a side effect?

Oh – and that’s another rant. Isn’t it a little scary that you can eat a bowl of cereal that has 100% of your day’s vitamins in it? As though you really don’t GET anything from eating all those vegetables. Who needs broccoli and carrots, just eat cereal for breakfast, get all your vitamins, and then eat candy bars and drink soda all day! Vitamins good!

The whole process is just so silly. No wonder so many people have such weird relationships with food, and that the newspaper can tell us that this week pasta is bad, but next week we can have an all pasta weight loss diet. Our food (or rather, the companies marketing it) assume that we’re too stupid to make our own choices about what we like and what’s good for us.

Which, of course, is confounded by the newspaper science thing. High fat, low carb. High carb, low fat. Low fat, whole grain. Cabbage Soup diet. Miracle Vinegar Cleanse. Nobody knows what’s really good for them (at least, nobody that’s actually reading the newspaper pseudo-science and believes it), and in turn, we go looking for the food companies to tell us whether or not we should eat something.

Of course, that’s what nutrition labels are supposed to be for, right? They tell us what’s in the food? Except that the ingredients list is full of (mostly corn and soy derived) chemicals and vitamins disguised by chemical names to the point where that list is basically useless.

How many of those items are just code names for sugar? How many are petroleum derived? What does “0 grams of trans fat” really actually mean? (answer: less than .5 grams. not none.)

I know that packaged food is a good thing. How many of us have been thankful for a can of Campbells soup when we’ve been sick? Packaged, shelf-stable food allows a lot of people to eat who couldn’t normally access that food easily, and that’s a Really Good Thing- especially since I live in a Hurricane prone area!

But really? All this hype? All the uber-marketing research strategies?

It’s well beyond ridiculous, and it gets on my nerves.

Dear Food:

Please shut up.

Love,
Me