Staahhp It!

Underpants Business PlanI used to think there wasn't a more annoying sort on the internet beyond those who give themselves any sort of title that includes the phrase "Social Media". Before that it was blogging; before that it was marketing the One Miracle Secret That Allows You To Sit In Your Underwear Making Millions On the Internet While Lesser Mortals Sleep.

Regardless of whether they call themselves marketers or mavens or gurus or whatnot, the basic business plan remains the same: make lots of money on the internet by "writing" (believe me, I use that word loosely) an over-priced e-book telling people how to make money on the internet. Add the prerequisite circle-jerk of business partners and wannabes giving one another substantially false testimonials, and you maaaayyyybe got yourself a money maker for a couple of weeks (assuming you have enough gullible friends and acquaintances who can be roped into buying your wares), until it finally catches on to those who fell for it that there actually *IS* no secret, aside from continuing the pyramid scheme of writing your OWN e-book about how to make da munnies on da internet.

I used to think there was nothing worse. But now I am prepared to publicly admit: Mojo Was Wrong.

Even more annoying than a Social Media Anything *HAS* to be the clueless newbie who READS such books and takes their lame, lame, hopelessly outdated advice to heart. So you will not have to shell out fifty bucks yourself to get these secrets, I will now freely tell you ALL that is entailed (with all due apologies to South Park's Underpants Gnomes):

  1. Create a website.
  2. Promote your website until it becomes, like, really, RILLY popular.
  3. ?
  4. PROFIT!

Of course, this has gazillions of newbies screaming, "but HOW to I promote my genius website so it stands out from the millions of lesser websites out there?" Never fear; your Social Media Guru du Jour has the SECRET ANSWER to that as well, possibly for ANOTHER fifty bucks. If not, it's in just about every stupid e-book out there, anyway. That secret answer being, you JOIN all manner of groups, forums and discussions on the topic you are an "expert" in (oh, yeah, you have to call yourself an expert, but rest assured you only need an hour or two of study to become one--no, I am NOT kidding; this is what they recommend), and during the course of you pontificating on your expertise and totally GIVING AWAY all this FREE VALUABLE INFORMATION, you deftly remind your breathless readers that oh, yeah, you also have a website somewhere over there, if, like, umm, you're interested.

"Deftly" being the operative word here. Because for every ONE person who may indeed be deft at such gentle and subtle self-marketing, you may rest assured there are tens of THOUSANDS who haven't a CLUE what the word "deft" means. Granted, it's probably something of a foregone conclusion that someone who fails to grasp that there is no real "secret" to whatever you are trying to do (despite said guru using the word "Secret" in the title), such a person might also fail to grasp that deftness and subtlety are required, so's you look like you are ACTUALLY TRYING TO BE HELPFUL instead of merely looking like you are flogging your ultra-lame website.

So now those of us who administer mildly popular websites must then deal with these so-called "marketers", who engage in the following discussions:

PERSON ONE: I like unicorns. They are so cute!

PERSON TWO: I like unicorns, too!

PERSON THREE: If you like unicorns as much as I do, you're sure to LOVE my new website in which I sell cleaning supplies and dog biscuits at a TERRIFIC PRICE!!!

I am NOT kidding you. It is indeed THIS BAD. I kind of slightly ENJOY those who take the valuable time to skillfully GUIDE the discussion from penguins to cleaning supplies, because most, as illustrated above, are too impatient to make a smooth transition. Sometimes with one of these website stalkers my colleagues and I will speculate exactly HOW they are going to turn the topic from, say, the moral arguments regarding euthanasia, into a person's need for cleaning supplies and dog biscuits, but apparently the creativity of the human spirit knows no bounds in this regard. If only this creativity could be channeled into, say, actually HELPFUL behavior instead of piles of self-serving hogswallop, the human race might actually have a future. 'Cuz right now we gots nuffin.

Right up there with the "deftly change the topic" crowd are those EVEN MORE SUBTLE types who take to heart the idea that, instead of outwardly PROMOTING your website, you just stick it in the signature below your name. Which would be okay in theory, EXCEPT such people then (yes, we know VERY WELL what you're doing, moron, and we REALLY wish you would stop) proceed to slap comments on anything and EVERYTHING that comes down the pike.

PERSON ONE: My grandmother died today.

PERSON TWO: Oh, I'm sorry! Hugs!

PERSON THREE: My condolences.


PERSON ONE: Say, does anyone know if there's a *STORE NAME* near where I live?

PERSON TWO: Don't you live near NYC? I think there's one in Yonkers.

PERSON THREE: Sorry, can't help you.


PERSON ONE: So what's the deal with Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird?

PERSON TWO: I don't know all that much about the symbolism in the book. I think Robert Duvall (sp?) played him in the movie.

PERSON THREE: Never read it.

If you are PERSON THREE, rest assured the rest of us actively want you DEAD. Yeah, we're on to you. And no, you're not really making a VITAL CONTRIBUTION to the discussion. In fact, you're rather a jerk.

The only solace I have in these matters is, such people are usually, mercifully, short-lived. They will do this, CONTINUALLY, for a SOLID MONTH. And just when you start debating whether or not you should permanently BAN their sorry butts (I am not one to ban someone just because I don't like what they're saying), they disappear. Why? Because stalking a forum like this takes ACTUAL WORK, and usually their guru e-book does not sufficiently WARN THEM of just how MUCH work it is and how LONG they must continue to do it. So they're ALL in your face for a month, and then poof! They're gone. Because despite following the guru's instructions to the LETTER, somehow they have still failed--in that single month's time--at becoming totally INTERNET FAMOUS and LAUDED for their extreme social media mad skillz. And they are off to lick their wounds and read the NEXT Secrets of Social Media e-book that they have bought from ANOTHER such guru...

...or, more likely, they're writing their OWN book.

Yay. (Well, I suppose we should celebrate the fact that at least you learned SOMETHING. Even if that something is spinning online culture further down the sewer pipe into eye-rolling oblivion. Congratulations on your continued success!)