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Response to Roger Cohen: Why So Upset?
Posted on December 7th 2012
In The New York Times today, columnist and semi-professional Andy Rooney impersonator (won 3rd place in Mid-Atlantic regionals last year) Roger Cohen took a break from defending the Iraq War and Rupert Murdoch to talk about how painful it is to hear people who over share on social media. Actually, it’s not just that Mr Cohen finds it painful, but it’s that he’s forced to hear them. Offensive, disgusting, 140-character messages that no one in polite society should have to hear.
I sympathize with Mr Cohen. Truly, I do. It’s unfortunate that we sometimes see tweets and Facebook shares we’d rather not see. It’s also unfortunate when we miss the subway by mere seconds, the deli runs out of peppadews, Geico releases another insultingly stupid commercial, among many more inconveniences of life.
But relief from all of these is possible: we can take the bus, make our own lunches, and read instead of watching commercial television. Problems solved! Well, except for losing all of the benefits that come from them.
So it goes with social media. It may have come as a surprise to Mr Cohen, but the majority of everything in existence will have merits and drawbacks. And the only way to eliminate the latter completely is to withdraw, completely.
But clearly Mr Cohen derives some utility out of social media, or he wouldn’t use it. And given that it bothered him enough to write his article in The Times about it, it appears he uses it quite a bit.
I don’t begrudge Mr Cohen for disliking overly intimate details about someone’s personal life. That’s completely subjective. But I’m not sure why he’s allowed it to get to this point. Social media is as opt-in as any media. If he doesn’t like the music, why does he keep showing up to the concert?
Unless, of course, the intention of the piece was only to complain. In which case he did an adequate job; not amazing, but I suppose it could have been worse. I’m just afraid I simply didn’t understand why he doesn’t write complaint columns about life’s other annoyances, too. Except for the fact that people on social media are more likely to write response pieces like this than they are about missing subways. Clever boy, Mr Cohen.
Oh, and the status anxiety part? That only raises all kinds of projection flags.