If we were to call today’s interviewee a “social media guru” he’d probably track us down and beat us with Ethernet cables. Brandon Mendelson is a humorist and critic of social media, and his first book, titled Social Media is Bullshit, in which he will expose every little seedy detail of the social media world, will hit stores April 2012. Toss in his other writing credits, which include such outlets as The Huffington Post, CNN, Forbes, Mashable, and many others, and it’s clear to see that Brandon has no business answering our idiotic questions. But he did, and for that we are thankful.
HT: Next year you will release your first book, titled Social Media is Bullshit. Well, Brandon, if social media is such “bullshit,” then why is it that I can stalk my ex-girlfriend digitally through Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media outlet she’s a part of?
Brandon: You’re just using the Web to do your stalking.
Social Media doesn’t exist. “Social Media” is a bullshit marketing term made up to sell you e-books, consulting services, conferences, workshops, and other crap that makes these asshole marketers and Cyber Hipsters rich. All “social media” describes is what the Web has always allowed you to do. The Web is better, prettier, and faster now, but functionally its the same.
So if you had a crush on this athletic girl from college with large DD breasts who now has a kid and lives in Western New York, and you’re keeping tabs on her just in the event you strike it rich and she decides she wants to fuck you, that’s all the Web’s doing. Social Media had nothing to do with it.
Not that I would know anything about using the Web for stuff like that …
HT: Anglefire. Geocities. Knife fight. Who wins?
Brandon: It’d be a wash. Angelfire and Geocities both started as scrappy upstarts that were later swallowed by large corporations, so they’re the digital equivalent of the kid you used to know who claimed they were “from the streets” when they actually lived in a development rife with McMansions.
I don’t think they’d get into a knife fight. Probably a couple of shouting matches (when their poser friends are around), and maybe Angelfire would steal Geocities’s mail box, but I doubt it’d get much further than that.
If I had to pick though, Angelfire is still around and Geocities is not. So in the knife fight of time, Angelfire wins.
HT: The internet is a cesspool. We all know this. In your informed opinion, what’s the worst thing on the internet today?
What’s the point of harping on that shit other than to educate people who don’t realize how badly they’re being fucked in the ass with a 12’ steel dick made in China, but branded with the names of American corporations like AOL, Clear Channel, News Corp, Disney / Apple and Comcast?
By the way: Steve Jobs is Disney’s largest shareholder, so don’t kid yourselves: Apple runs Disney, and they’re just as guilty for the stupid bullshit these other asshole corporations get away with. Jobs is not a saint. He’s the guy making the next version of that steel dick and trying to sell it with the knowledge that you’ll need to replace it with a better one six months from now.
Tthe worst thing on the Web are these assholes that want to tell you what to do and how to live. They’ve been around forever. America was founded by these motherfuckers, but back then they had bigger belt buckles and syphilis. Today they have keyboards and don’t even have to be American. They just have to be as loud and stupid as possible because Corporate America is generally run by pussies who fold like a recently discovered by the cops massage parlor. You know, the good kind?
So now that these assholes can find each other and band together, they’re better able to bully the rest of us. And since none of us have any real power and we’re at the whim of spineless corporations and politicians, we’re powerless to stop the bullies from dictating how we live.
HT: If the internet became sentient and had a thirst for blood, how would you recommend we fight it?
Brandon: I’d tell you not to fight it.
As a species, we’ve had a good run. Lets let the computers take it from here. It might even be better. Haven’t you seen The Matrix?
I didn’t empathize with the humans at all in that movie. “You want to disconnect me from paradise to live in a sweaty hole in the center of the Earth where robots want to kill me with lasers?”
Who would want that?
Morpheus was a fucking con artist. “Free your mind”, and find what? Really. Think about that for a second. If Morpheus had been like, “Yo man, let’s live in that fucking hole down there and sweat and scrounge for food until we die from our squalor or fucking robot lasers”, nobody would go with him.
So if the Internet became sentient, I’d embrace it. I’m ready for something new. Humanity is clearly not capable of running the show anymore. It’s time for new management.
HT: A quick look at your Twitter profile reveals that you’ve sent over 41,000 tweets. Did you install Tweetdeck or some other Twitter client directly in to your brain so that you may live tweet every thought?
Brandon: Despite being pro-Matrix, I wouldn’t want anything installed in my brain. I don’t even own a cell phone, and I never will. Portable cancer. Why would you want that? “Let’s irradiate your balls and kill your insides! It’s ok, you can play Angry Birds while you die!”
People give drug dealers a lot of shit in this country, but they’re just providing a service. The cell phone companies are the real drug dealers. They control the rates, the supply, the rules, and all your family and friends want what they’re selling, so you have to get it too.
In my case, I write all my jokes down in this black notebook. I take it everywhere. No one is allowed to look at it. I don’t need my wife or her family knowing I plan to kidnap Jada Fire and titty fuck her until she dies gagging on a mountain of my cum, you know? There are just some things you don’t want people to know!
But since I spend so much time in front of the computer, I started just tweeting the jokes instead of documenting them. “Hey, that sounds funny. Lets see how many people I can offend with that one!” Bam! A joke is tweeted about how Tinkerbell has a shallow vagina.”
And that’s why I tweet so much at @BJMendelson. I don’t care if the volume of tweets annoys people. I don’t care if anyone is offended. I’m amusing myself. And if you like it? Awesome. If not, I don’t care.
Life is short. You can be dead tomorrow. Amuse yourself first.
HT: How has Twitter improved your business life? Follow up question: how has Holy Taco improved your life as a whole?
Brandon: I’ve been reading Holy Taco for a long time. I’m convinced I’ve sent a bunch of letters to you guys along the lines of “Hey Motherfuckers, I’m funny and want to write to you” but no one would ever write me back.
Kind of a dick move on your part, but we’re cool. I’m being interviewed by you, and that’s started to repair the seemingly irreparable damage you guys have done to my ego over that amount of time. So, right now? You guys have made me feel pretty damn good about myself. I might even get hard enough to blow a five roper out my window and on to the people eating below at the Bistro.
As far as Twitter goes? Its weird. On one hand, they have this tendency of lying to people about how many people actually use the service and how “influential” it is in driving television ratings, even though it doesn’t do dick. So on that front I hate to acknowledge that they’ve done anything good for me.
But on the other hand, they promoted my account in 2008, and again in 2009, and gave me the followers that I have now. I mean, most of them are now probably inactive and spam accounts, and 300 or so of them are deleted each day, but the large number gives me a psychological edge that a lot of people don’t have, and I’ve been able to use that to my advantage. So, Twitter has certainly helped me out too.
*cue emails about how to get Twitter to promote your account*. Sorry. Can’t help you. Twitter HQ now seems to have it out for me. In a feature CNN did on me and a few other folks, after that article, everyone got verified but me. And when they did take me off the suggested user list, I was one of very few (if not the only) account not later added to their Twitter Suggestions.
That’s totally fine with me, but really, don’t email me asking about that shit. I’m tired of those emails. Anyone who sends me one over the age of eighteen will probably get a picture of my dick emailed back to them.
HT: You went from being a penniless, unemployed college grad to being a guy that has book soon hitting store shelves. What advice do you have for recent college grads out there that are looking at the bleak job market and thinking, “Screw it. I’ll write a book!”
Brandon: Stay in college. Seriously. Don’t believe the guys at Gawker and the Cyber Hipsters who keep harping on this shit that college is overvalued and useless. Get another major, go to graduate school. The economy still hasn’t recovered and probably won’t for a few more years. And if you’re feeling adventerous and want to write a book? You might as well get credit for it or do it when you don’t have any responsibilities to anyone or anything.
The second you step out of college, you start to get hit by bills and other shitty obligations that take time away from you, and keep you from doing whatever it is that you want to do.
So if you want to do stand-up, get as many gigs on campus and video tape them so you have something to show clubs as soon as you graduate. If you want to write a book, use the resources you got on campus to do it. FYI: Professors have to publish or perish, so ask them for help.
Sure you’re going to rake up debt like a motherfucker, but you’re going to do that anyway, and if you’re going to owe anyone anything, it might as well be the federal government.
As long as you’re not a tard and don’t consolidate your student loans, you can delay those things for as long as it takes until you’re financially stablized and ready to pay them off.
And if you do volunteer work, join the Peace Corp, or teach at a shitty school for five years? The government will wipe out what you owe them.
So, that’s more serious of an answer than I’d like to give anyone, but there you go.
HT: What’s the difference between something being popular on the internet and something being popular in traditional media outlets like TV, film, and print?
Brandon: I can sum that up with a story about prowrestler Kevin Nash showing up at the Boston airport for his Royal Rumble appearance this year. Nash had been wrestling for Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA) for a long time, and the Royal Rumble would be his first WWE appearance in years.
When fans saw Nash at the airport, Nash said a lot of them asked him things like “Where have you been all these years?” and “We miss seeing you compete in the ring.” Nash was shocked because he was thinking, “I’ve been in TNA all that time guys.”
That’s the difference between the Web and the traditional media. The Web is Impact Wrestling, and the mainstream media is WWE. Everyone wants to be in the WWE because it has the largest audience and the biggest potential for exposure (and thus the biggest potential for a healthy payday).
Impact Wrestling may give you a great opportunity, and it does for a lot of guys like AJ Styles and Samoa Joe who WWE fans have no idea who they are, but at the same time it doesn’t give you anywhere near the amount of exposure and profit that the other place does.
Will that ever change? No.
With everything becoming personalized, the Web is going to become increasingly smaller in terms of what people consume on it, so as long as you’re doing stuff on the Web, you may develop a loyal audience, and you may be able to make a living off it, but you’re almost never going to reach the same heights as someone doing the same thing using the traditional media.
HT: You’re a big professional wrestling fan. If you were given the opportunity to create your dream 4-fatal four way Japanese Death Match, who would be on the card?
Brandon: It would have to be made up of the people I think ruined the business. Because when you say Japanese Death Match I’m thinking barbed wire and that crazy “only in Japan” stipulation where after a set amount of time, the ring will explode.
But since I’m the one booking the match, I’d really make it explode. Why not? If you’re going to advertise that the ring is going to explode, you might as well deliver. If a couple of fans get killed in the process, that’s alright. It’ll be like going to an expensive and more violent Gallagher show.
So, who would I book? Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Eric Bishoff, and Stephanie McMahon.
The only one on there that needs any explaining is Hulk Hogan. If you don’t follow prowrestling, you’ll think “That dude is fucking awesome, John Graziano had it coming for not wearing a seat belt, and I’d bang his manish looking daughter in a second.”
If you think that, you’re an idiot.
Hulk Hogan may have been an awesome attraction in the ‘80s for the WWE, but if you do any reading about him, almost universally everyone says what a backstabbing liar the guy is and talks about how he held people down.
Of course, Hulk Hogan will tell you that’s not true, and he’s “put over” people like Billy Kidman, but the reality is although Kidman won three matches against Hogan, if you watch them, he certainly didn’t do Kidman any favors, and considering the wins and losses in prowrestling don’t mean shit, what does mean shit is how the fans perceive the wrestlers. So Kidman winning is kind of useless when he’s made to look like nothing in the process.
If you look at the direction Impact Wrestling went in after Hogan showed up, and the direction WWE has gone in since Triple H and Stephanie have taken an (almost) leading roll in the booking, you’ll understand these picks.
HT: If social media, in all of its various forms, were taken to an extreme, what would our dystopian social media future look like?
Brandon: For a brief time, I was a building substitute at William Hackett Middle School in Albany, New York. Outside of History and English, I was not prepared to teach other courses, which as a building sub blows because you’re expecting to fill-in everywhere. And quite often, teachers wouldn’t leave plans for me to follow. That would mean I’d have to face a room filled with 30 or so inner city kids who weren’t particularly thrilled that this skinny white man was standing in front of them pretending to know Spanish.
What usually happened, until I instituted an effective system of fear, was chaos. Kids were screaming, nothing would get done, and I didn’t know what I was doing.
Those chaotic classrooms are a lot like what the Web will become.
You don’t need to take it to an extreme to see this happening. We’re producing way more bullshit noise that distracts us, keeps us dumb, and away from anything approaching productivity. At the same time, since everyone has access to (almost) everything, the cost to be successful and to produce something good increases, not decreases.
That means even if you did want to put in the effort, the odds are *barring a lot of luck* your project or idea isn’t going to be seen by anyone. And to top it all off, there’s a whole lot of people who don’t know what they’re talking about (see: anyone who talks about “cashing in on your passion”, “purple cows”, and “enchantment”) giving you advice.
And since the media has a fascination with the Cyber Hipsters (the shitbags who run around telling everyone the Internet deserves a Nobel Peace Prize), we all buy into this stuff because we’re generally trusting people.
For example, when the media tells us about a guy like Tim O’Reilly (who made up the word “Web 2.0” just so he can cash in on it by publishing books on the subject and holding conferences on it) we believe what O’Reilly is saying because the media does. Despite the fact that O’Reilly made up this word just to cash in.
The end result of all this misinformation and nuclear rat race is just endless noise. Noise way, way louder than the sound of television sets across America being turned on simultaneously to catch the Super Bowl. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.
So, I encourage you to do what I do: Sit back and watch it all burn while you wait for your big breasted college crush to call you.