Friday, November 13, 2009
In which I apologize to all those nice people I may have inadvertently pissed off.
There are a lot of things that warp the orbits of our lives that we never got to voted on.
For example, I don’t remember ever holding a national election on the question of whether or not we should massively de-industrialize the United States, shutter our factories, ship millions of middle-class jobs overseas, eviscerate whole regions of the country, turn the American economy into a feudal state and the American workforce into WalMart greeters...all to radically enrich a fraction of one percent of the population.
But that’s what we did.
We also never held a referendum on whether or not an adult American citizen has to have a credit card; we just made it inconvenient-to-the-point-of-impossible for adult American citizens to function without them. I know. I tried. If you ever wanted to be treated like a Unibomber suspect, try telling the company you work for that you can’t just charge your trip to Albuquerque and they can reimburse you later because you don’t have a credit card.
We never voted to make cellphones mandatory. Like credit cards, they are a theoretically fine idea that has become a pestilence in practice, turning us into a nation of Pavlovian droolers for whom the siren's song of the ringtone trumps everything else.
Virtually every oblivious asswipe who nearly (or actually) rammed me on Lake Shore Drive, or tried to kill me in a crosswalk, was yap-yap-yapping away. Every trivial morning-meeting-muffin-misdelivery gets escalated into a frenzied round of phone-and-Blackberry tag. Every tinpot dictator boss with a sense of absolute entitlement to your time whenever and wherever the mood strikes them has turned a benevolent technology into a leash that stretches all the way around the world, and a siphon to steal away the precious days of your life.
And if you want to be looked at like a sex offender making your court-mandated neighborhood notification of your arrival in Mayberry, try telling that boss, "No, I do not have a cell phone and have no plans to get one just so you can interrupt my personal life when you can’t find the 'Any' key on your girlfriend’s computer."
Which brings me to Facebook.
Some months ago a certain bastid fellow blogger (who virtually never posts anymore, which I realize now sadly covers about 4/5 of all the bloggers I have ever met) sent me an innocent-seeming email.
See, there were these pictures…
But they were on his Facebook page…
So, being a credulous idjit, I clicked on the link provided, which jumped me to a friendly screen, which informed me that I had to sign up with Facebook in order to see the pictures which, at this point, I’m thinking better be really spectacular.
And so, discovering that someone out there had already taken the appellation “driftglass”, I chose another variation of my nom-du-blog and waded in up to my ankles, intending only to flip through a few photographs this pal of mine wanted to share with me.
11 minutes later…and I have 53 “friend” requests.
Suddenly I have a home page. or at least I think I do. I have a “wall”. Or maybe I am part of a wall. Or I'm another brick in the wall.
I discover that the someone who took the appellation “driftglass” has been uploading my posts to Facebook wholesale. Trying to be helpful? I haven’t a clue.
I start getting little bursts of traffic from various islands far out in the Great Facebook Ocean.
As a happily private person who can barely keep up with his email, this is one of my favorite, little nightmares come true: finding myself down a Kafka-scented rabbit hole where “friend” is a verb and I am suddenly a member of a club aggressively geared towards share-share-sharing pictures and poems and personal details; a club I never had any intention of joining, with mores, widgets, protocols, norms, duties, obligations I never asked for, have any desire to learn, or was even dimly aware existed.
I realize that millions of people feast on Facebook (and then clean the table with a crumb sweeper called Twitter) and jolly good for them, and if my inattention to the medium into which I was softly press-ganged has caused anyone insult, I apologize. Believe me, I always try to make sure that my insults are clear, direct and full-frontal.
So if anyone is interested what I have to say on any given day, come to the blog: it’s one mouse-click away. If you want to sound off, that’s why I leave comments open, and why I sometimes reply, although y’all do just fine without me. If you want to drop me a note, I have email, and am also on Twitter (although I haven’t used it weeks, can’t belch in fewer than 140 characters, and in my most narcissistic fever dreams could not imagine that anyone would give a titmouse’s taint what I’m planning to have for dinner, or how many step there are between me an the local “el” station.)
But no Facebook: for now, the conveniences I already use are surfeit enough for me.
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