What Type of Social Virus Are You?

I think computer viruses should count as life.
I think it says something about human nature
that the only form of life we have created so far
is purely destructive.
We’ve created life in our own image.
— Stephen Hawking

Stevey Haw and I have different opinions and experiences regarding many things. However, this quote interests me as an IT associate and observer of human nature. In another context, I could reference it theologically, but for today, let’s use it as a launching point to something more whimsical.

Last year, social media was proliferated with the introvert/extrovert extravaganza. Over the past few months, online quizzes have been replicating like rabbits letting us know what city we should live in, what Disney princess we are, and what inbred dog we would be.

Unfortunately, BuzzFeed has yet to release an App for us common folks to create such quizzes. So for today’s post you are stuck at looking over a list of options to discern for yourself which type of virus you and your friends are at parties or social gatherings. At times we function, even humorously so, with a Darwinian mindset and our (un)conscious survival of the fittest can often create relational havoc.


1. Adware

Adam is a 3rd year communications student. He’s well put together, always in his business-casual attire. He has a knack for key words. As you sit around the table, enjoying some guac and mole with everybody, Adam hears you mention “something” and his marketing algorithm goes off. He then goes into a tirade, letting you know how great his Cutco or Amway or it’s-not-a-pyramid-scheme-pyramid-scheme is and how you should get on board. Even if there is no product, he is focused, and tries to get others to focus, on his Facebook or Instagram feed. Adam self-promotes whenever he gets the chance. Adam is Adware.

2. Hijacker

Have you ever been with a circle of people, having a lively discussion about music or film, and then all of a sudden, find yourself in the midst of something dealing with the political ramifications of the Malaysian government being in alliance with the fair-trade sugar mill workers in Fiji? If so, you’ve met Heidi. She’s Adam’s cousin. She busts into the pilot’s cabin and grabs the steering yoke, taking the conversation to a “more important” place without consideration of context or relationship. Heidi, she’s a Hijacker.

3. Bot

Beth has a compassionate heart and cares about people. What she doesn’t have are good boundaries. If you’ve ever wondered how your intimate gathering of a handful of close friends morphed into a “Risky Business” house party, it’s because Beth was somewhere in the mix. She doesn’t want anyone left out and even though it’s not her party, she delegated herself to being in charge of the guest list. This causes stress on the actual hosts as well as DOS attacks (denial-of-snacks) because there weren’t enough resources allocated. The worst thing is, she doesn’t even realize. She just smiles and is ecstatic that all 50 people are crammed into this 10 x 10 room. Beth is a Bot.

4. Spyware

If you glance over your right shoulder, you’ll see him. He’s the one against the wall, between the two ferns. He’s wearing a hipster beanie, drinking out of his red solo cup every 30 seconds, grooving to some music with one ear bud in. No one is sure who he’s here with, but seems friendly enough to make eye contact and give the cordial head nod to passers-by. His name is Seth, and he’s data-harvesting. You don’t know it yet, but he’s the guy responsible for a few co-workers being pissed at you come Monday morning. He tweeted about the party that night, with enough “general” information to be specific enough to incriminate you as you lamented (you thought privately) about the douchebag at work. Seth is Spyware.

5. Bloatware

Here’s the thing about Bradley: He earnestly thinks he’s adding to the conversation. At first, when he notifies you of his presence, you give him the courteous half smile chuckle. But then he keeps interjecting, and what he’s saying is related to the topic at hand, but is so obtuse (and not in the funny clever way) that it just jumbles things up. Eventually he gets the hint. You even feel bad as you see him there on the couch, alone, eating cool ranch Doritos. It would be better for you just to ask him to leave. But you don’t. So he sits, not hurting anything, just taking up space. Bradley is Bloatware.

6. Phishing

The social butterfly that was really interested in you for about 10 minutes, that’s Phil. It seemed normal at first and you were glad that he wasn’t just talking about himself. But he never reciprocated anything back to you about his life in the general way that strangers do as they get to know each other. He’s searching to find out what you can do for him. Job lead? Information about your hot single friend? You don’t know… but he does. Phil is good at Phishing.

7. Macro Virus

Megan assumes that everyone thinks the way she does. This makes conversations with her typically awkward as she is oblivious to her own mindset. Everyone else is on the same page because they are listening, but Megan… well, she has already formulated her response before the speaker is done talking. She thinks your satirical tone is serious and your somber comments funny. In the document of conversation being written, she applies her own rules and adjustments to the meaning behind the words, impulsively twisting them into what they are not. Megan is a Macro Virus.

8. Ransom Ware

It’s too late. She’s already made eye contact with you and is heading your way. “Oh, hi Roxy,” you mutter while looking at the ground. You play nice, but actually despise one another in the form of apathy. The only reason she came your way is because she’s new to this crowd and doesn’t want to look like an outsider. You try to politely excuse yourself (moron – why did you leave your herd and get a third helping of the mango salsa?), but then she asks how your friend, Chris, is doing. That’s code and alarm bells go off. You see, Roxy has some dirt on you, of some things you’ve done that weren’t the most valiant. She knows this and so do you. So she holds you as a social captive and you pay her with your time until the room gets acclimated to her and she goes on her way. Roxy is Ransom Ware.


Photo Credit: Mike Shaheen via Compfight cc

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