We turned dunking into a sport

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

George RR Martin on his blog: Dark Days

It used to be fun talking about our favorite books and films, and having spirited debates with fans who saw things different… but somehow in this age of social media, it is no longer enough to say “I did not like book X or film Y, and here’s why.” Now social media is ruled by anti-fans who would rather talk about the stuff they hate than the stuff they love, and delight in dancing on the graves of anyone whose film has flopped.

I think one of the unexpected downsides of social media over the past couple decades is how much they have become dunk machines. Yeah, positive stuff can get some traction as well, but if you want to really get people buzzing and boost those engagement numbers, you’re way better off dunking like crazy on some sucker. People blame quote tweets for this, but I’m on Mastodon everyday and believe me I know what people there don’t like. I’d go so far as to say for a decent number of people I follow, I know more about what they don’t like than what they actually enjoy. Why? That’s what they post about; it’s the thrill of the dunk.

Now I’m not suggesting that disliking pieces of art and media is new, we were all teenagers who thought that disliking the right things was as important to being cool as liking the right stuff, but I do think that social media helped turn it into a sport.

If you’re a video game account on any major platform, a surefire way for you to generate engagement this week is to talk shit about the new Suicide Squad game because that’s the thing that’s cool to hate right now. Apple has a new product, so that means it’s time to dunk on their new thing as well as the people enjoying that thing. Hell, if you want to get the clicks on YouTube, throw Rey on the thumbnail, make sure “RUINED STAR WARS” is in the title, and boom, you’ve got yourself some juicy content.

This also isn’t to say that talking about the things you dislike is wrong, and I know being positive comes more naturally to some people than others — I get that peoples’ situations are different. What I will say is that I think it’s good to be aware of what you’re putting out into the world, and whether that body of work represents what you want others to think about you. If it is, awesome! But if not, it’s okay, that negativity spiral is very easy to fall into, but it doesn’t take much to pull yourself out of it either.

I’ll end this post by saying I recently got a Meta Quest 3 VR headset, and while it’s far from perfect, I think it has some really awesome features, including the ability to be a wireless headset for VR games on your PC. And that wireless connection is excellent. I played the opening level of Half Life Alyx today and good lord was that an incredible experience! I can’t wait to play more, and I look forward to what other discoveries I can dig up with this headset.

Nice, that felt good 😊