Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I am nearly finished with Facebook. It's becoming so . . . MySpace, with more ads.  It is addictive, because one in about 70 posts are quite interesting, or connect me to remote friends in ways otherwise ignored in this multi-tasking attention-energy-sucking meaning-diluted swirling first-world juggernaut. One of the principles of behaviorism is that intermittent reinforcement will increase the likelihood of the persistence of the desired learned behavior much more than constant reinforcement will. Think gambling. As of this writing, I have not found a filter that will allow a friend's family pictures while preventing their re-posting of videos of skateboarders sterilizing themselves on railings, or pictures of dogs with signs around their necks written by their owners bemoaning the latest cushion dismemberment. As we enter what may be the ugliest, most idiotic political seasons in this country's history, I fear that my ability to remain will not survive.
My account contains a fairly diverse population, which guarantees that the full spectrum of opinion and insensitivity on any popular topic will be displayed for my entertainment, judgement and often, disgust. I would characterize my friends into four general, overlapping categories: Family, the church people, the disability crowd, and gamers. Toss in some co-workers, and I think that you can see the opportunities for any and all to be offended/offensive to each other, no matter where I fall into the Venn Diagram that is my life online.
I have many friends from other countries and continents. Their insights (and involvement) in the United States of America's goings-on is both fascinating and embarrassing for me. Just as I do not know what it is like to be *insert country -ish/egian/ian*, they interpret our goings-on through a foggy american cultural lens that often leaves me screaming (only in my head as of this writing). It does sting quite a bit when they're completely correct. Ignorant of their government structures or functions, I'm not capable of commenting on their internal issues. Educationally obtuse and linguistically, er, inarticulate in only one language, I attempt to at least acknowledge my 'ugly american' status to retain their affections.
My family experience on FB is weird. Isn't yours?
Church People. Very much like the attendance at my wedding, and at my father's funeral, for that matter. My Dad pastored 6 churches officially, and many others as the result of his various leadership positions. What this meant at these two particular occasions was that one could not predict who might show up, how many, or what they'd bring in the form of memories. It makes for some pretty weird combinations. There was a couple who came to Dad's funeral who were from his first church in Sierra Vista, AZ. In 1959.
We in the 'Disability crowd' ( There is no good term, ok?) promote diversity and acceptance. I suppose that's what makes it difficult to 'unfriend' a fellow parent with whom I share a diagnosis only. In my struggle to learn this path, many of us shared an emotional journey that turns out to be like summer camp or, more aptly, a plane crash. Once the circumstances subside, there's not so much left. As with every other group noted here, there are exceptions, where we find common interests that go beyond the generalizations.
Then there's the gamers. From Australia to Italy and points in between. I have moose pepperoni in my freezer from CrazyMoFo from Canada. One is a working ventriloquist who's been on Letterman and "America's Got Talent." Some are gifted, most are goofy. Many of them are prone to posting content that my other three constituent groups would find, well, pretty offensive. I will fail to stereotype them any further; let's just say that they play a lot of different games, some of them are online, some in real life. How else would I learn about things like tanks and snowmobiles and beekeeping and WWII ordinance(one guy operates a prop shop up in Los Angeles with uniforms and all the accoutrements)? 
While I would like to think that I can use all of the friends that I can get, I know that the word 'gregarious' does not pop into anyone's head when describing me. My growing dilemma with Facebook is the signal-to-noise ratio. The "don't just like - cut and paste this to your timeline if you love me and support penguin rights, it's the only way I'll know you care" crap. "Match up the month and day of your birthday to these lists to find your Leprechaun name." The post, this week, that intrigued me: "Never buy laundry soap again!" The link then directed me to buy cakes of Fels-naptha, shave pieces into a bowl, then use a mixer to combine it with other purchased ingredients to MAKE MY OWN LAUNDRY DETERGENT. Perfectly in context if I'm looking through the aisle at the General Store before I mosey back to my sod house on the prairie. Are you kidding me? I buy pre-made soup and a cooked chicken from the grocery store, why would I MAKE MY OWN LAUNDRY DETERGENT? I believe I've made the point. 
Moving, personal information about my friends' lives. Cat videos. Kardashian news. It all has equal weight on this platform. I realize that ads make it 'free', but we've been conned into passing along all of this crap without thinking about the effect we're having on each other. I've fallen victim to it; I did, yesterday. Something I thought was fun and entertaining turned into something I never intended it to.
I have to make some changes. I'm not sure what to do. Winnowing the list may help some, but I know that a few folk that I truly care about clog my news feed with dreck. What, then? Throw the Facebook out with the ice bucket challenge? I was tempted, then. Until Alex did the challenge with a tub of rocks, out here in drought-stricken California, and it was nearly worthwhile. Ya gotta love family.