A little over three months ago, I decided to take the Twitter app off my phone. Every time I clicked the small, blue icon on my home screen I encountered overwhelming negativity. I am thoroughly convinced that anyone who can spend time on Twitter’s cesspool of controversy, skinny Mariah Carey memes, Trump tweets and the occasional viral video depicting graphic violence is superhuman. Remember that time is the one thing you cannot get back. Not to be dramatic, but Twitter may actually be a crime against humanity on par with the atomic bomb. Maybe even the show Big Bang Theory.
Yet around this time last year, despite thinking the exact same thing about the app, I browsed Twitter incessantly.
Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers love giving us younger generations heat for just about everything we do. This morning, I saw an article which listed every industry that Gen Z is killing. We’re slaughtering cash with Venmo, slashing the throats of shopping malls with online retailers and murdering Facebook in cold blood. Not a single one of these facts invokes any negative emotion in me, but I digress.
Most of all, our parents and grandparents rag on us for the way we use social media. They call it an addiction, a distraction or a menace. Of course, my knee-jerk reaction to complaints from old people is dismissal. After all, we may eat Tide Pods but at least we have a polio vaccine.
I’m not even here to spout the generic complaints so many of us hear about sites like Twitter and Reddit. We all know that you can say anything anonymously the Internet is forever, that anyone can edit a Wikipedia page. Most Internet safety presentations in middle and high school come long after pretty much everyone has experienced the Internet for themselves. Ironically, the thing I hate most about social media is the inter-generational phenomenon that floods my timeline with: Kardashian culture.
We keep up with the lives of celebrities to a ridiculous extent, so much so that a three-paragraph story about the way someone eats ramen gets tens of thousands of clicks.
To be a thousand percent clear, aspects of Kardashian culture took place long before anyone knew who a Kardashian was. In the 2000s, Love, Actually actor Hugh Grant faced brutal media coverage. Again and again tabloids splashed intimate tenets of his personal life across front pages. Child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen struggled with eating disorders and drug addictions, each burned out and oversexualized for years as teenagers. Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Justin Bieber: All famous, all torn to shreds in magazines, newspapers and gossip blogs.
It’s our fault. I have never understood why we feel the need to know everything about people we will never meet. If I go to the explore page on Snapchat, I’m bound to see a Daily Mail story about the oh-so-scandalous bikini Kylie Jenner wore to the beach. Thanks to the checkout aisle at HyVee, we can all stay updated on Jennifer Aniston’s weight. Maybe you’ll get lucky and learn about the black yoga pants Taylor Swift wore to the gym. We keep up with the lives of celebrities to a ridiculous extent, so much so that a three-paragraph story about the way someone eats ramen gets tens of thousands of clicks.
Since I’m calling out Kardashian culture, let’s analyze an example of it with none other than Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson. Recently, TMZ broke a story claiming that Thompson, while in a relationship with Kardashian, cheated on her with Kylie Jenner’s best friend, Jordyn Woods. The story reached just about everyone alive, which is understandable. A famous family involved in a cheating scandal is bound to make waves. But as the buzz seemed to continue for days and weeks, I grew more and more annoyed. The memes were hilarious, but I just cannot comprehend how anyone cared enough about that drama to continue Tweeting about it day in and day out.
What also baffles me is how seriously people took it. I saw this issue spun into a matter of racism and I saw genuine anger in Instagram posts. If you Google ‘Khloe and Tristan,’ articles from today will show up. It’s been weeks yet updates are regular.
I’ve fallen victim to this phenomenon, too. I used to spend hours at a time scrolling through stories about people who are entirely irrelevant to my life. It’s juicy, I admit, but after looking through the replies to a Tweet from Generic Celebrity #3472 one day I realized I just don’t care. When I looked back, I realized I only looked at controversy on Twitter and as a result always felt sad, angry or riled up when I was online.
Kardashian culture caused me to unknowingly consume immense amounts of toxicity. I sought others’ negativity and called it entertainment. I succumbed to Kardashian culture.
Since I deleted Twitter, I can proudly say I’ve seldom logged on. Sometimes I stalk Armie Hammer’s account for a laugh, but mainly I use social media with a pre-established purpose, rather than finding a reason to scroll after I log on. Most importantly, all, I keep up with my friends. Not the Kardashians.