#NSRP

Posted by on December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm.

nsrp
I suggest we begin hashtagging things #nsrp, meaning “No Serious Replies, Please.” We’ll put this on posts we create that are satirical but apt to attract serious replies. You know the ones: they issue from people who don’t know us very well and/or don’t have a great sense of humor and/or have an inflated sense of self that blinds them to the nuance of our statements. Such people feel compelled to step into our lives to provide unbidden advice.

We can already say jk or lol, but that generally ruins the spirit of the post. Such tags imply we’re saying something funny but then taking it back immediately, which blunts the statement’s edges. #nsrp is directed not at the poster but at the viewer. It’s a brief way of saying, “If you’re wondering if I’m serious, I’m not” without crushing the chance for the statement to be taken at all seriously. We can still be frustrated by a situation (as in a friend today who posted a rhetorical question asking why he can’t stop clicking on clickbait), but we don’t actually want advice about how to fix it.

But what does this tag allow us to do, rhetorically and beyond? I can think of at least one good and one bad element to this. I’ll selfishly end with the good so that #nsrp still seems valid.

The bad is that it fits a bit too well into our age of ego-driven oversharing in which we demand to be heard but not to listen. We want to be able to say things in public but shield ourselves from opinions we don’t care for. In this negative view, #nsrp might be shorthand for “If you’re not in my filter bubble, I’m not listening to you.” Over-filtering seems like a mistake, as it shuts down meaningful dialogue. More importantly, though, status comments posted by people who don’t get the situation are often the best comments of all; consider the kindly grandmother who posts, “I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. Cheer up, my buttercup.” on someone’s post about how they’re planning self-harm because of the ACA. These exchanges are golden.

Filter bubbles tend to be political, but the not-listening overshare functions in an emotional register as well as a political one. Its emotional facet manifests in those friends who love to share feelings without any comedy or information value. They make cries for help that don’t want ideas on how to make the situation better. “Eating a sandwich, feeling sad. #nsrp” is actually hilarious as I type it, but it really says, “This is a cry for help, but I’m not interested in actually engaging in a conversation about it.” That attitude may not be best for a site in which people view each other’s statuses and have the ready option of Liking or Commenting on them. The medium isn’t built for the one-way communication of content (though of course it isn’t not built for that, either).

On the other hand, here’s why #nsrp is good: it gives posters a new power to express their opinions with clarity and to buttress their statements against condescending responses. We’re in an age of selfish oversharing, but also of mansplaining. Having someone post a comment in which they try to act as a logical counterpoint to your emotional status is THE WORST. To make a “serious reply” is not the same as taking seriously the content to which one replies.

Ultimately it’s difficult to project accurately a net positive or negative effect of a hashtag, but discovering the affordances of such tools is fascinating business. In the case of #nsrp, it reminds me of how much online expression is meant to go unanswered entirely, how much is open to additional dialogue, and the necessary rhetoricality of facebook as a medium of exchange.

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