Erin McCullough.JPG

Did you know that snails are a prime vessel for any number of biological parasites in the world?

I didn’t know this until I saw Adam Conover at Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville last weekend.

For those who don’t know him, Conover is the host of truTV’s “Adam Ruins Everything,” and a former member of the internet video comedy group College Humor.

On his show, Conover “ruins” any number of long-misunderstood or factually incorrect institutions, including but not limited to why engagement rings are a giant scam run by the De Beers family, how the funeral industry rips people off during their most vulnerable times, myths about health and nutrition and even – to my horror – how the rules of grammar are flexible and ever-changing.

“Adam Ruins Everything” is kind of like Sesame Street for grown-ups. The show is going to be fun, but you’re also going to learn something by the time it’s over.

Conover is also a stand-up comedian, though not a comedian in the traditional sense. Instead, Conover utilizes slideshows as props in his comedic routines, frequently using images in lieu of spoken jokes during his act.

I’m delighted to say that was exactly what I saw when I went to Zanies last weekend.

Adam Conover.jpg

Erin McCullough learned all about biological and metaphorical parasites when she saw Adam Conover of truTV’s “Adam Ruins Everything” at Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville on July 13.

Conover’s latest comedy act is called “Mind Parasites,” and it combines education with a touch investigative journalism in much the same style as this TV show.

Conover began by educating the crowd about the different parasites that exist in the world, including the Emerald jewel wasp, which, as Conover put it, is “proof that there is no God.”

Conover explained that the Emerald jewel wasp exists in the world to take over the mind and actions of cockroaches (pardon my shuddering) in order to hatch its young.

As Conover explained, the Emerald jewel wasp stings a cockroach, temporarily paralyzing its buggy victim. Once the cockroach is paralyzed, the wasp then takes over the cockroach’s body, getting the roach to do whatever the wasp wants.

There’s more that was significantly more disturbing, but the point of Conover telling us this was to relate it to the mind-controlling powers of the advertising industry.

Think about it, Conover told us. The advertising industry is just like the Emerald jewel wasp, in that the industry hijacks our brains to control what we eat, buy or wear, among other things.

For instance, Conover showed us a green square – just a shape and a color; nothing more – yet when he asked us what company we saw in that simple green square, nearly the entire audience responded with H&R Block.

The advertising industry has hijacked simple symbols or sounds, such as the Taco Bell church bell sound, in such a way that’s not only completely saturated our brains but also saturated how the internet works.

Because free websites like Facebook and Twitter rely on advertising revenue to provide services to people, they have now set up entire algorithms that decide what we see on the internet and when we see it.

Before, these websites just wanted to connect us with other people who also wanted to share their thoughts, but now these robots, essentially, are behind the scenes, manipulating what content is circulated.

From ads to news stories to what your second cousin who you’ve only met once at a wedding was doing last weekend, these algorithms have invaded the internet and turned us humans – one of the most intelligent species on the planet – into crazed automatons, mindlessly sharing and retweeting garbage content for the sake of more clicks.

It’s honestly horrifying to think of how the internet has evolved over time.

In the words of Conover, “You’ll yearn for the days when the most dangerous thing on the internet was porn.”

And that brings us back to the Emerald jewel wasp.

The cockroach is not entirely defenseless against the wasp. It has evolved to learn how to sense the wasp coming and kick it directly in the head, which is awesome, if you ask me.

And just like the cockroach, we can choose not to engage in the things that enrage us online.

Instead of sharing that Tweet from my cousin that perpetuates some weird conspiracy theory, I can choose to retweet a picture of a baby donkey eating a flower because it’s cute.

We still have choice in this world. All we have to do is remind ourselves that the crazy post that popped up on our Facebook feed was put there on purpose to make us angry, and simply ignore it.

It sounds crazy, but I think it just might work.

Thanks for (somewhat) ruining social media, Adam!

Around the Water Cooler is a personal opinion column.  The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of The Tullahoma News.