Posted by: Mark | March 19, 2009

#stoked and #fail

This is a twitter based post, so sorry for those who aren’t there. However, it is in response to a comment made from a non-twitter friend so I think there’s fun for everyone in here.

My favorite hashtag is #stoked. Let me explain for a second what a hashtag is. If you want in Twitter, you can “tag” your tweet with a hashtag by putting the pound sign, #, in front of whatever phrase you want to tag. That more or less files it, if anyone was to ever search for this hashtag, into a certain folder of conversations. This is used a lot at conferences. For example, a bunch of the uber-geeks on Twitter have been at the South by Southwest festival in Austin lately, and are tagging pretty much every tweet with #sxsw. So I could search #sxsw and find all the updates that come from here. This has been one of the most annoying things ever in the last week, as a ton of people I follow are there and are tagging everything with #sxsw and I’m basically at the point where I wish that the stupid conference, and heck even the city, even though I’ve heard Austin is cool it just has such a bad association to me right now, would just sink into the ground.

But I digress.

My favorite hashtag is #stoked. Whenever something good pops up, I’ll write it up and end with #stoked. For example, from last week, “It’s water polo Friday #stoked.” Obviously I would be stoked to play water polo, so I’ll tag that. I’m #stoked lately because a lot of my twitter followers are starting to use the #stoked hashtag, and while it started with just me updating, now there are more people going out of the way to express feeling stoked. In fact, I just did a search of #stoked and here’s the screen shot I got:


It’s great. I’m obviously there, my wife’s in there, a bunch of friends, etc. If you scroll through there’s other strangers as well, and that’s cool because other people are expressing that they’re stoked as well.

On the other hand, there is the hashtag #fail. This is a big one in the online world. People love to talk about things that fail. There is, in fact, an entire blog called the FailBlog, probably one of the most popular blogs out there, with pictures and videos of things going wrong, sort of like an homage to Murphy’s Law. I can off the top of my head think of several other blogs, with very inappropriate titles that I will not include for my mom’s sake, that also follow along this similar mentality of basically complaining about the bad things that go on.

Here’s a screenshot I just took of my search results for #fail:


A bunch of people I don’t know. But here’s the striking thing. In my #stoked screenshot, the time that elapsed between people feeling #stoked is quite large. Several tweets were from a day ago. On the other hand, the #fail screenshot is almost instantaneous…a lot of people within the last few minutes were complaining about something.

And this gets to my point, and the question raised by my friend. Are social networking sites, those which emphasize the individual over all else, creating a bunch of whiny complainers? Are we all self-obsessed and looking for the flaws in life to share with people, as compared to looking for the things that are wonderful and make you happy? Now I know that the word “stoked” isn’t necessarily used a lot, but even searches for #happy give older results than #fail, same with #gratitude, etc etc.

This is a bummer. First off, it’s a bummer because I don’t like to think of the possiblity that humanity is drifting towards being a bunch of self-involved complainers. That is obviously no fun to think about at all for about a billion reasons. (It’s also a bummer because if it’s right, then my friend mentioned at the beginning of this post is also right, and I just don’t like giving him the satisfaction of being right.) However, my bummer is maybe even bigger. Maybe humans in general just like to complain a lot, and don’t like to enjoy the bright side of life, and this is a constant across time. Technology may aid our dissatisfaction, but maybe it’s always been there, since the beginning.

It seems that human complaining is one of life’s constants. There will always be those out there who will find something to complain about for pretty much everything. So then that leaves all of us with a choice. First off, we could complain about the complaining, but that seems pretty counter-productive. What good does it do but add more bad vibes.

Instead, you can do what I’ve chosen to do, because us humans can make choices and can craft our destiny. You can choose to acknowledge the bad, recognize its existence, and mourn the losses in life, but to still let good prevail and overwhelm you. Find beauty in the rainstorm. See the twinkle in everyone else’s eye. Because as I said, use humans can make choices. We can choose to try and break our bad habits of seeing life as one big affront on our comfort, and instead see it as one big gift for our enjoyment.

If you do that, you’ll be pretty regularly feeling #stoked.



  1. Nice analysis. No #fail here; just pure #stoke(d). Perhaps someone should start #purevida.

  2. As a relatively new communication tool, it’s possible that the majority of the user population are analytical, techie types, and they use this outlet to communicate to fellow techsmarts in an effort to improve the overall functionality of whatever system is “#failing.” That’s my sunny view on #fail. I can also say I’ve never used it. 🙂 I’m always looking to be #overwhelmedbygood.

  3. So, I clicked on your website thing on Twitter and then I read your last post. I went back and looked at my Twitter history and I realized I’m kind of leaning towards the self-involved complainer category. I’m going to change that up. Anyways, it’s kind of weird that I’m reading a teacher’s blog… that I don’t have… in the middle of the night… but I just wanted to say, I like your perspective of life. It reminds me of eating fruit loops and watching cartoons when I was younger or actually even now. That probably doesn’t make any sense, but it’s a compliment.

  4. If I pipe in to say that you kinda simplified the point I was trying to make in the three crazed minutes of typing you allotted me before taking off for your class/swim meet/soccer practice, does that count as complaining? I don’t want to be a hypocrite. But I just think that too many folks construe their ability to share with the world, via Twitter or Facebook status updates or whatever, that they’re annoyed about, say, the traffic on the ride home today to mean that other people actually want to hear them talk about how they were annoyed with the traffic on the ride home today. I think it’s helped to create a culture of “EVERYTHING I SAY IS IMPORTANT” and “EVERY OPINION I HAVE IS WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION” to the extent that the barrier between the important and the unimportant and the opinions that are informed and worthy of attention and the opinions that are uninformed and not worthy of attention barely exists anymore. People have always complained, yes. Some more than others. But nowadays, since people have the opportunity to announce and ennoble the trivialities of their daily lives, they’re far less likely to internalize these complaints and just get on with their lives. Which means there is more complaining and whining in the world now than there was five years ago. Which sucks. #Not Actually Andy Rooney

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