i Need Media

i Need Media

     As you might expect, I spend a lot of time online. It’s not really a “second life” for me as it is for some people, but much like IRL (in real life), some things could certainly change to make it a better place to partially exist. Heading into 2014, here are my four social media New Year’s resolutions.

Stop with the damn Upworthy re-posts

     This is the year linkalism broke — as in “broke out like herpes all over everyone’s Facebook walls.” Many sites adopted the “repackage a GIF/list/YouTube video with a sanctimonious headline” approach, though none was more grating and egregious than Upworthy. You may not even recognize the name of the site, but you’ve undoubtedly been suckered into clicking on one of the links. A sampling of its featured headlines at press time: “Head Doctor Says a Rich Kid Isn’t Guilty BECAUSE He’s Rich. Reporter Says What We’re All Thinking.”

“A Video on Why Condoms Aren’t Perfect Will Make You Laugh More Than Worry You.”

“Parents Should Never Outlive Their Children. Can We All Agree on That, at Least?”

No! No we can’t! Stop telling me how I should feel about everything!
You’re allowed to post one Buzzfeed link per month

     In a lot of ways, everyone’s favorite random-list generator, Buzzfeed, is just as bad as Upworthy — except it occasionally has entire posts full of puppy photos. For that, it gets a small pass, but can we all agree to lay off in 2014? Just stop and think: Is that  “25 Tropical Fish That Look Like Harry Potter Characters” really something you need to share?

If you know nothing, say nothing

     When Paul Walker died, there were the requisite Tweets of shock, but mixed among the gasps (and too-soon jokes) were nearly as many posts asking, “Who is Paul Walker?” First of all: Google. Use it. Secondly, if you don’t know who someone is, it’s totally OK not to say anything about them. As social media has amplified the chatter of the “national conversation,” it’s also made people feel as if they need to throw their voices into the fray even if they’ve got nothing to add to the dialogue. Just sit some things out once in a while.  
Quit acting as if social media means “social barometer”

     A spinoff of the “talking loud but saying nothing” trend is what I call “the Grief Olympics.” Social media users using celebrity deaths to show how much more “cultured” they are than the rest of us. Going back to the Paul Walker example, on the day of his death, my respective feeds were filled with complaints about mourning “a shitty actor” as opposed to, say, some 80-year-old classical pianist or obscure foreign dignitary who passed away that same week. Things got worse when Nelson Mandela died and people started measuring the number of posts about Mandela against those about Walker in their timelines. Look, no one’s going to argue levels of cultural import between the star of the Fast and Furious franchise and the man who ended apartheid, and nothing that happens on social media is going to rearrange history. That’s the ultimate resolution going into 2014: Don’t take the Internet so damn seriously.

I Need Media is a biweekly media column by Matthew Singer. Follow him on Twitter@mpsinger.

i Need Media

i Need Media

As I’ve mentioned here in the past, I’m not the biggest fan of anything labeled “fantasy.” Epic fantasy, Final Fantasy, the Mariah Carey song “Fantasy”— all of it turns me off. It’s not that I’m some coal-hearted Republican with no imagination. I just prefer entertainment that explores or reflects the world I live in. And I don’t live in Middle Earth. Or wherever it is Mariah Carey is from.

In the last month, though, I’ve caved on that hard-line stance. I have finally indulged in the whimsical, the quixotic, the phantasmagorical: I have joined a fantasy basketball league.

I know there are no dragons or orcs or otherwise mystical creatures in the NBA, unless you count Chris Bosh. Still, this is a major step for me.

While I consider myself a fairly savvy person culturally, it’s only been in the last 10 years that I’ve become much of a sports fan. Growing up as a young punk kid, I rejected the idea of organized athletics, in part because the corporatized nature of professional sports leagues totally went against my totally well-formed and not-at-all made-up anarchistic principles. Also, I wasn’t what you might call “coordinated” or “physically active.” Why partake in something I’m not good at myself, right? Somehow, around the time of the Lakers’ failed super-team championship run in the 2003-04 season, something got rewired in my brain, and I’ve been a fairly obsessive pro-basketball fan ever since.

Up until now, though, I’ve largely avoided participating in any fantasy leagues, in part because of that dreaded word. Fantasy? What? Are we writing fan-fic where LeBron stays in Cleveland and Grant Hill doesn’t have osteoporosis in his ankles? But now that I’ve been roped in, an addiction is setting in.

It’s only been a few weeks but I’m checking my team’s stats constantly. I access the waiver wires whenever I have a spare few minutes, devising ways to improve. I’m watching terrible Charlotte Bobcats and Boston Celtics games just so I can track Al Jefferson and Jordan Crawford. And y’know what? It’s a lot more fun than following a Lakers team that’s tanking for draft position. (Or at least, that’s what they should be doing. Stay on the damn bench, Kobe!)

Weird as it is to say, I think playing fantasy basketball has enlightened me to what many people see in other forms of fantasy. Simply, the real world is just boring. At least, it is when the Lakers are terrible. The ability to escape to a dimension in which I care about Cleveland-based power forwards and even backup Celtics point guards as deeply as Pau Gasol’s rebounding numbers. Now I understand why people love dragons. It’s because, much like my love of Kenneth Faried’s double-doubles, is doesn’t really exist! Maybe I should consider sitting down and finally experiencing the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Maybe Middle Earth — or the midpoint between there and regular earth — is where I actually belong. Sure, Tolkien novels don’t have anyone as entertaining as Charles Barkley in them, but then, what realm does?

I Need Media is a biweekly media column by Matthew Singer. Follow him on Twitter@mpsinger.







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