I was one who was early onto Facebook which I believe was about 8 years ago or so. (Modest research on my Facebook page tells me that I in fact joined in 2007. That’s a lot of wasted time!) (No excuse for shoddy research when we have the internet at our fingertips, eh what?)
At the time of its inception, or maybe more to the point, of my joining of it, Facebook really seemed liked the greatest thing since, as they who have no gluten issues would say, which I do but I’ll say it anyway – since sliced bread.
When I signed up, I was a columnist for the Calgary Herald which used to be a decent newspaper but is now hardly more voluminous than the various flyers it lovingly enfolds (Revenue! Revenue!), as it trickles down from the Herald building to an ever diminishing readership. Well, that’s another story. The point I am trying to make here and would make if I’d just get on with it (and so here I go, getting on with it – cut to the chase they will tell you at the journalism schools that mysteriously continue to pump out graduates year after year, even though there are no jobs for any of them, a situation where you have essentially entire faculties of failed journalists teaching eager and bright young people the tricks of the trade for a trade that exists less and less each and every day. “Get on with it!” they will say, reading from notes drunkenly scrawled on yellow foolscap thirty years ago in a fit of gin-inspired inspiration, “Get on with it, and tell your story! Cut to the chase!” they will say, as if they know anything. OK, so, fuck them, I’m not going to get on with it, I’m going to tell my little story about NOT writing for the Calgary Herald anymore and it goes like this . . .
I was wandering aimlessly (Like a cloud! Like a Calgary Flame back checker!) through the aisles and channels of my local Co-op grocery store when I was accosted by a sweet little old lady, she pushing her cart full of grim healthy things and me pushing my own cart piled high with the usual rubbish, red meat and chocolate and pretzels and the usual bachelor fare) when she stopped me, short of ramming my cart with hers, and pulled up her 5’2 inches to my 6’6 inches, saying, “You’re that fellow who writes in the Herald.”
This kind of shit happens all the time. I hadn’t written for the Herald for two years when this incident went down, but what can you do, she’s like a grandmother, who’s going to be rude (not me) and so I looked her in the eye and said, “Yeah.”
She looked me in the eye, and lying through her dentures said, “I read you every week.”
“Oh yeah?” I rejoined.
“Absolutely,” she re-rejoined.
“Welllllllll,” I countered, “Did you read me last week?!”
“Sure,” she said. Lying. “I read you every week.”
“Well, isn’t that a miracle, because I wasn’t in the Herald last week!” I said, triumphantly.
And then she grasped my arm with her bony little hand and laughed gaily (as they once said) and said, “Oh, my, you say the funniest things! Keep it up, boy! Don’t stop!” And then she walked away.
And really, who was I to argue? In a very bizarre way, she made my day.
OK, and now I am ready to get on with it, so I will now close this endless parenthesis and do just that.)
(She actually called me “boy.”)
So, when I joined Facebook, I did in fact still write for the Herald, in the Entertainment Section, on Saturdays, yet, and so I immediately got (attracted?) a thousand friends. Some I knew, some I didn’t know. Good friends friended me. (My hobby is making verbs of nouns!) Casual acquaintances friended me. Total strangers friended me. Hot babes friended me! It was all good. I was like a junkie! Bring ‘em on! Bring on more friends! I couldn’t get enough. (Now I have almost 2,000! I need more! I need more friends! The beast must be fed!!!!)
(In fact, in that very same Co-op store, on another occasion, I was fondling the juicy plump olives one day when a man hoved in beside me and said, conspiringly, “We’ve never met . . . but we’re friends on Facebook.” Brave new world, indeed.)
And, as God would have said, when God was still speaking, “It was good.” That kitty cat picture that someone I don’t know posted was so cute, and so I hit “like.” That scholarly article from Oxford or Germany about the obscure playwright Brghwraighght, I read, and then hit “like.” The photos of dilapidated cinemas? Like, with a pithy comment such as “Wow!” or even pithier, “OMG!”. The pithy Oscar Wilde quotes? Like, and even share. I was only too happy to engage.
Honestly, other than masturbation, I can’t think of anything that has held my interest for so long.
But lately, I don’t know. I think I’m feeling a bit of Facebook fatigue. It was bound to happen. I mean, I used to like so many things that I don’t like anymore, why would this surprise me? Initially, I was happy to be able to stay in touch with friends, and I still am, although I am growing a tad impatient with “friends” (for there are friends, and there are “friends”) who only use the thing to advance their own greatness and never ever ever ever hit like on something you’ve posted, let alone share it.
But beyond that, I’m wondering if it’s possible that there is a finite number of Oscar Wilde quotations (there has to be) and if there is a finite number of cute videos showing insane blood thirty carnivores (ie, dogs) playing with other sweet innocent mammals (cats and humans, say), and not ripping them limb from limb and then devouring them. (There’s probably no limit to these.)
For my part, I am reduced to sharing photos of owls (50 likes) as opposed to sharing scholarly articles (1 like, from an insane friend whom I have never met from rural Kansas, who likes everything I post) because no one will read anything longer than ten words anymore. These, and the photos of myself trying to convince my 2,000 friends that I am if not still “dramatic,” at least interesting.
I am old enough to have lived through a few trends. No one thought vinyl would end. (As it turns out, it hasn’t, it can’t be killed, it’s back.) Or cassettes. Or VCR’s. (Go to any garage sale. VCR’s! Toy Story! Does anyone even have a player anymore? How many billions of VCR’s are out there polluting our planet now??) (Sorry)
As much as we can’t see it, or won’t see it, it’s obviously inevitable that Facebook will prove to be another passing fad, and I am confident enough with my take on the zeitgeist that if I am feeling fatigue, others are as well.
Wait for the next great thing?
In the meanwhile, on Facebook or off, how about this: How about rediscovering what “friends” really are. What it means to be a friend. Or how about going to an event instead of just hitting “like” or “join” because you think that would be a good thing to do, if only you weren’t at home experiencing life through Facebook. I’m as guilty in this as anyone. Hell, you’re probably reading this because I shared it on Facebook. But I am going to make this little credo my mantra this winter so I don’t get stuck inside alone all the time: Set it aside. Shut it off. Go out. Make human contact. See live performances. Start living again.
And don’t mourn Facebook. It’s not dead by far, but I sense that it’s purpose is shifting. When all is said and done a hundred years from now, if there is still a planet called earth, in my mind it will be shown to have done more harm than good.
But for now, it is what it is.
If you’re old enough, this video might make sense. If nothing else, it’s a good song.
Thanks for reading!