Now that it's nearly a week into January, half of all New Year's resolutions have likely fallen by the wayside. If yours were among them, fear not. Analog Nation is once again here to help. The following resolutions have been made on behalf of the world in general, and that includes you. See? Now you're back on the wagon again.
I resolve, on your behalf, to stop supporting causes by changing my social media userpic.
Back when the Internet was just a bunch of Geocities sites, failed dotcoms, and bizarre thought experiments that continue to this day, people were constantly sending around petition emails. Every couple of weeks I'd check my inbox and there'd be another one, crowing about some great injustice or other. (Sitting here today, I can't actually remember what any of the causes were. Wait, there was one about how the government was going to start taxing email at a penny per message. And there was something about the rainforest.) The plea was always the same: Add your name to the list of signatories below, then forward the petition to every person you've ever met. By sheer strength of numbers, we were going to set things right. Rising as one, there would be no stopping us.
Except for the part where it's physically impossible for an email petition to accomplish anything at all. There was never a master list of signatures, just a bunch of messages flying around with subject lines that said "Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: End poverty now!!!" At first I signed a couple, figuring that A) it couldn't hurt, and B) girls who saw my name on the list would think of me as sensitive and aware. Once the pointlessness of the whole thing was evident, I became one of those insufferable twats who would reply to the petitions, politely informing my friends that their efforts were futile (while strongly implying that I was still sensitive and aware).
The plague appeared to have been eradicated, but now it's clear that it merely adapted to thrive in its new host organisms, Facebook & Twitter. Patient Zero of the epidemic may well have been the 2009 Iran protests, when Twitter users started tinting their userpics green to show support for protesters who were using the site to communicate and organize. I'll admit, it was kind of touching to see a thousand tiny flags cheering on the good guys. But it set a terrible precedent, and now we have to put up with everyone changing their Facebook pics to cartoon characters because that's going to be the thing that finally ends child abuse.
Listen, if you've taken some sort of real-world action to support a cause, and want to change your profile pic as a way to encourage others to do the same, that's commendable. Otherwise, well ... the resolution has been made.
I resolve, on your behalf, to stop thinking up crazy names for new companies.
There's this strange image I've been getting in my head lately. Whenever I read about the latest digital startup to get millions in venture capital funding, I picture Don Draper reading the startup's name. And no matter how many times I picture it, his reaction never changes.
"What is this horseshit? Did Campbell sign off on this?"
Hulu, Gowalla, Loopt, Skype, Zynga, Tumblr, Veoh, Qlipso, Etsy, Flickr, Vimeo, Vevo, YouTube, Playfish, Thwapr, Brightkite, Grooveshark. It's as if Frank Zappa started creating World of Warcraft characters.
This is the output of the digital crucible, and in a way it was probably inevitable. The entire English language was registered as a domain name right around the time the last available syllable was purchased as a search term on Google. So entrepreneurs started looking elsewhere. Napster was Shawn Fanning's nickname. Zynga is named after Marc Pincus' dog (though the dog's actual name, Zinga, was already taken as a URL). Hulu is a Chinese word that means some stuff Jason Kilar found appropriate.
A new company has to have a URL, and has to be the very first thing that comes when someone searches its name. I get that. Believe me, I know what a giant pain in the ass it is find a domain that hasn't been taken — this very website used to be called Sooper Delishus, partially because I got sick of typing ideas into GoDaddy. But at this point, we're just making shit up. Check out this list of startups that presented at last September's TechCrunch50. It's gotten to the point where investors won't take you seriously unless your name sounds like something a five-year-old spelled with fridge magnets.
Alright, deep breath.
This next one will be difficult.
Truth be told, I had this lined up for the 2010 resolutions, but decided to shelve it because I was talking shit about the word "awesome" and didn't want to cross the line into being a complete dick.
Here we go.
I resolve, on your behalf, to calm the hell down about bacon already.
Please, just hear me out. For the purposes of this discussion, we have to draw a distinction between Bacon The Food (BTF) and Bacon The Social Phenomenon (BTSP). BTF is completely delicious, you'll get no argument about that from me. Once when I was a kid, I had a bacon sandwich and fell ill with the flu within minutes. What did I crave when I finally stopped barfing? You're damn right it was bacon.
No, the problem is BTSP. After quietly serving as a fantastic food for something like (I'm just going to guess here) three thousand years, all the sudden bacon emerged as a beacon of hipness, an indie band that your friends liked before you did. Then came the t-shirts, the bumper stickers, the mugs — searching for "bacon" on CafePress coughs up more than 2,500 items. People started having bacon parties. Somehow this happened. While everyone was debating which dessert item was going to replace cupcakes as the food we never shut up about, the answer turned out to be bacon.
As much as it saddens me to admit, BTSP is giving BTF a bad name. A line was crossed the instant we began veering into bacon-flavored ice cream and bacon cake frosting. Mind you, I am in no way suggesting that BTF go away. Shit, eat it with every meal until it kills you, for all I care. But let's not make a federal case out of the damn stuff. Let's just eat bacon.
(Note: The above constitutes a legally binding document, and by reading it you agree to carry out all provisions therein, including the ones from the last two years, as well as any edits made throughout the year.)