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WTF, Internet? Grumpy Cat’s achievement award proves we don’t know when to stop

WTF Internet 10_20_2013

I don’t like a lot of things. I’m actually just the vessel that serves as a mouthpiece for the reincarnation of Andy Rooney. If someone under the age of 50 were allowed to be characterized as “cantankerous,” it would be me.

But you know what I do (or rather, did) like? Grumpy Cat.

I admit it. There’s just something about that angry little face that gets me. The dichotomy of an adorable, tiny kitten that has a permanent mean mug just gives me a case of the happy-cries like nothing else.

And for awhile there, we were at optimal Grumpy Cat saturation. There were moments of peak levels where things were getting just a little ridiculous – the SXSW appearance, a variety of “interviews” with the cat were treading down a dangerous path – but for the most part, we were able to keep our cool amidst the insanity.

But that’s all over. We’ve jumped the shark … or the cat. Whatever, it doesn’t matter anymore, because we had a good thing going – a great thing going! – and we did this with it.

grumpy cat pasties

These are Grumpy Cat pasties. They are just one (two?) of the various atrocities bearing Tardar Sauce’s face you can purchase.

A quick trip into Etsy and Amazon will cure you of any remaining Grumpy Cat adoration you have. There are wall decals, cuff linksearrings, baby onesies, nightlights. There’s a drink call Grumppuccino and I hear it tastes like overexposure and cat tears.

This all has been building up to this week, when The Friskies were held. This is the second annual event for the brand’s awards show (as if you didn’t already know that). During The Friskies, Grumpy Cat was interviewed by celebrities and whiskered (sorry not sorry) down the red carpet. It was a magical night, topped off by Tard’s win for Lifetime Achievement Award. 

(For just a moment here I’m going to dive deep into the cesspool I’m criticizing to point out that Friskies sponsors Grumpy Cat, so uh, collusion, anyone? Conflict of interest? No?)

First of all, a lifetime is usually a sum of many years – and Grumpy Cat is whopping one year old, so let’s not count our chickens before they hatch, OK Friskies? Second of all – have you lost your minds!? We have taken a beautiful-yet-curmudgeonly thing and vaulted it to such heights that it’s a joke. No – it was a joke and now we’ve effectively made jokes about the joke to the point where we’re all sort of half-laughing and looking around to see if anyone else still thinks this is funny, or if they’re faking it in confusion too.

Is this good?! Are we laughing?! Are we all still having fun?! I don’t know anymore!

It’s just like us to take a wonderful thing and exploit it to the point that it’s stopped being funny and started being sadly perplexing. It’s not Grumpy Cat’s fault, I’m not even sure it’s our fault, and it’s too easy to blame the brands.

It was just a perfect storm; the Internet plus an oddly adorable cat plus marketer’s renewed interest in viral marketing … it couldn’t haven’t gone any other way.

But now, it’s time to cool it. Maybe giving Grumps the “Lifetime Achievement” award is a good way for her to bow out gracefully. Have we not laughed enough at that puzzlingly judging face? What more can we ask from this meme?

So no, I don’t want to see that new Imgur Grumpy cat image you made, and I’m allowing only three Grumpy Cat sightings before I get a rage stroke on Halloween. We had a good laugh, and now it’s time to pack our bags, and move on to the next one … which we can then overuse to the point that we don’t know what the Internet even was, or who we are without it. 

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Molly McHugh
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before coming to Digital Trends, Molly worked as a freelance writer, occasional photographer, and general technical lackey…
WTF, Internet? Read receipts are letting everyone know I’m a horrible person

Sometimes I think the Internet was made so we could have yet more ways to embarrass ourselves. Every time I accidentally "reply all," every time I make a horrible, incorrectable Twitter typo, every time I send a text to the wrong person.
Then who is it?!?! And what have they done with mom??!??!
There are infinite ways in which you and I and everyone we know has mistakenly thought the Internet was their friend, only to realize we're all outing ourselves as big time creeps, weirdos, or in my case, horribly insensitive human beings.
Point in case: Read receipts. You might think they are a simple mechanism, alerting you to what has and hasn't been read, but no! No I say! They are the most evil method for pressuring you into using technology all the damn time!
Say you log on to Facebook because you are a person with an Internet connection and a mild to serious interest in the lives of your friends and family. You're perusing the News Feed, you're liking pictures, you know ... you're doing inventory, taking stock. And then a chat pops up – fine, that's fine ... you don't have the want or time to respond right now, but maybe later.
But the sender of that chat knows, beyond a doubt, that you read and dismissed their message. You stupid slut – how dare you fully read that text and then just carry on with your life as if you'd never even seen it!?
It gets worse with party invitations or group messages. Have you ever been subjected to the mass message asking for something – anything? "Hey it's me that friend you've seen twice since college, what is up gang?! My soccer team/choir/book club is having a fundraising/bake sale/auction and I wanted to know if anyone wanted to donate something/bring cookies/lend me their pickup?"
I am the worst, as documented by this faux admission I'd just seen this thread ... even though my "seeing" was being documented the entire time.
And then it happens: The read receipts roll in. The responses ... do not. This is followed by a deafening silence of empty Facebook Message space that makes the inside of me scream so loudly I avoid opening my Messages folder altogether for fear the sender will somehow know, and my lack of friendship and participation will be further recognized. Like Facebook will tell them, "Molly read this five times without responding."
It can be made worse when each recipient of the message sends a response ... except for you. I mean me. It's always me – I am always that person who, after a week's worth of back-and-forth between the normal people involved in the chat, is like, "Oh hey just saw this ... what's up everyone ...". But they all know I saw it long, long ago. We all know.
As if I really needed one more way to look like an insensitive asshole. I create plenty of those opportunities all on my own, thanks.­­­­
Being on the other side of the read receipt sadism isn't fun either. The iMessage nonsense comes to mind. Most iMessage and SMS texts say "delivered" once sent, but sometimes they say "read." This power is entirely in the recipient's hands as well – the person you send messages to determines whether you see that "read" and time stamp.  And oh, good lord, there are a plethora of times where our mental states would be much aided by not knowing a text message we sent was read.
Situation number one: If you're crushin' on someone and you said them an ill-advised text. This could be a drunk text, a needy a text, a text meant for someone else about said crush, the borderline-obsessive-third-text-in-a-row-with-no-response text. When any of these occur and you see "Read" pop up, it's like, let's all find a mountain ledge to jump from immediately. This becomes a million times worse when it's not followed by a response for over an hour. Or ever.
Situation number two: When you truly need an answer to a question and your jerkoff friends won't reply. Oh, they'll read it ... but that's as far as it goes. And yeah, I'm clearly guilty of this, as referenced in the Facebook bitching portion of this article. But when it happens to me, it's totally different!
Situation number three: You sent what you think is a hilarious joke, and you're greeted by nothing but silence. So of course, you send another seven texts to clarify your joke. Just stop though, it's sad. You're bumming everybody out, man.
These instances are all enough to make me chuck my phone across the room and hide from it like it's the drug leading to my undoing. And not a fun, party drug – no, more like heroin, or something you shoot up in a dingy bathroom and then you fall asleep against the door and wake up in a "wha-huh-where am I?!" haze.
I swear I don't do drugs. I just watch a lot of Breaking Bad and The Wire.
Then there's also the case in which read receipts just don't effing work – hey Twitter, what's up?! I'm looking at your Direct Messaging nonsense. My Twitter iPhone app consistently tells me I have messages – and every time, I hit "mark all as read." And it won't. Do. That. It's infuriating because I get a little thrill ("OH I HAVE A DM I NEVER GET DMs THIS IS EXCITING!") whenever I open the app. And then my hopes are immediately crushed and I feel like, somewhere, a tiny blue bird is laughing at me. You're just toying with me, read receipts. In every way the digital world can, I am being teased and humiliated. 
I get that smart, learning, informed technology and apps lead to a better digital experience, but a little mystery would be nice. I would just love if it took people the tiniest bit longer to figure out I'm a huge jerk ... and you know, maybe I wouldn't have self-diagnosed iMessage-induced anxiety disorder. 

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WTF, Internet? Stop tagging me in these horrifying photos I never wanted to see
Instagram Tagging

You may have seen some news this week about a new Instagram feature: The app now allows you to tag and be tagged in photos. It works exactly like you’d think it would. After uploading a photo, you have the option to add people to it.
Sounds simple enough, right? We’ve been conditioned to accept tagging, be it via Twitter or Facebook, or even Instagram's former half-hearted option for awhile now.
But note that with this update comes a “Photos of You” tab, where people can see everything that your friends and followers have tagged you in.
Your first reaction might be total acceptance. But your second might be more like mine: Absolute effing horror.
Remember back when Facebook was just college kids? And you would go to parties and hold those red cups and people would take pictures and within what seemed like hours those pictures would be up and on Facebook for the entire world to see? Well back then it didn’t matter: Unless someone was a fellow student, they couldn’t see these incredibly incriminating and embarrassing photos. Tagging – which, mind you, was a totally new concept that everybody went absolutely nuts over – wasn’t a terrifying thought.
Of course, all that has changed. Social media isn’t the youngster, insider game it used to be. Ooooooh no. That was over a long time ago. It was either the day your mom friend requested you' or when you realized that your former college roommate now works at a legit company that, hey, you’d love to apply to … if only she couldn’t view those pictures of you doing a keg stand.
The point is, Facebook used to be a safe place! It lured us into this false sense of security! Share those photos! There are no consequences! Except, oh wait, yes, there totally are, and it's the worst. 
Et tu, Instagram?
Same story, different social app. It started out small and exclusive. Grew a tight, loyal community. It was great! Seriously, I feel like a week ago I was all in on Instagram, just thinking, “Aw shucks! I mean, Instagram, you are just … you are just great. With your filters and your relative lack of spam and how no one can privately message me (code for annoy me). Way to keep it simple!”
Why you gotta do me like that, Instagram?
I’m sucker and I got played because YET AGAIN I was sucked in to feeling the freedom. No one can tag me in this noise, so what the hell! You take that picture of me doing a Jager Bomb! Sure, mom and dad, take and post photos of those hideous middle years I’d love to forget! It matters not!
Using my sister as a sacrificial lamb: I don't think she'd love for my dad to be able to tag this Instagram he posted of her.
How wrong I was.
So now, in addition to religiously monitoring the photographic evidence of my shenanigans that my “friends” (so they call themselves) post of me on Facebook, Instagram is added to the mix. Gone of the days of a carefree, Amaro-filtered photos of my shambles and derp-ness and enter those wherein I'm compulsively checking my news tab in paranoia.
They can take our Instagram anonymity … but they can never take … our freedom!
Except that yeah, they totally can and just did. 

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WTF Internet? Instagram inspired Nikes … ‘Just DON’T Do It’
Instagram inspired Nikes

We all knew it was coming. The signs have been around us for awhile now. So it should come as no surprise that Instagram is working on some monetization schemes.
The little photo-sharing-app-that-could catapulted the idea of the mobile-first social network, and managed to create a whole new level of hype around “iPhoneography.” For chrissake, people refer to themselves as Instagrammers. There are meetups organized around the community so people can physically get together to use the app. It’s a really real thing, you guys.
But it’s not just for us anymore; the transition has begun. And it has begun with what’s possibly the brandiest, most corporate, blatantly-appealing-to-the-lowest-common-denominator campaign there ever could be.
Before we dive into the nonsense that’s about to follow, realize that this has nothing to do with the fact that Instagram wants to make money. A company is a company is a company; I don’t care if you’re a corporate banker or an app creator (or a candlestick maker!), you’re doing what you’re doing because it’s your job and you want money. So yeah, rake it in Instagram, get it girl.

No, that’s not my problem: My problem is that one of the first official product partnerships Instagram is entering into is with Nike. To design shoes. Shoes inspired by - you guessed it - your Instagrams.
Yes, really. No, I won’t slap you out of this dream hellish nightmare. Write it down, Internet: 2013 – the year we started living in a world where it was possible to create shoes inspired by pictures you took with your smartphone that you then filtered with an app. We will never be the same.
In case the concept isn’t enough to infuriate you (or at least make you sit there, slack-jawed, slowly releasing a guttural, “Whaaaaaaaaaaat?”), allow me to run you through the process. It all starts out innocently enough: Sure! I’ll authorize a Web app that wants access to my Instagram account. I do this all the time! I am comfortable and in control of what is happening. We good, we good. 

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