A few weeks ago, I accepted the friend request from a guy on Facebook. He and I have a few mutual FB friends. His name was vaguely familiar, and I was feeling outgoing in a virtual sort of way.
Perhaps my new friend would post something on FB which would trigger enough synapses in my old wrinkled head to help me recall how I actually knew him (assuming I’d even met this guy in the first place).
Within only a few minutes, I spotted his first post. It was a motivational poster with strong religious overtones. It rang no bells of recognition and no one I knew had commented on it. Before I could waste too much time wondering, another post popped up from him. This one was quite ethnic and not funny to me, though I’m sure someone laughed at it. As I tried to make sense of why someone would post religious cheer-leading, then baby-mama posters within minutes of one another, yet another post popped up from my new friend.
I had published a new blog post. As fate would have it, a few people read it and commented, so I was making sure that I read and replied to as many comments as possible. I also have a job, a wife and a life, so I wasn’t on FB too often. Every time I was though, there were multiple posts from my mystery friend.
I knew I had to block this guy before his dorm-quality WWJD posters and World Star Hip Hop-style homages to booty overwhelmed my news feed. I’d have to sift through mountains of this junk to find the kitten photos and empowerment slogans of the rest of my remaining FB friends.
Before I blocked him, I decided to tally up the posts for the twenty four hours of our friendship. The total: Forty-six photo/slogan/booty-liscious posters and eight religioso posters. None of the posts included photos of the guy, or so much as an original sentence. Fifty-four FB poster posts in the span of one day?! I glanced at his profile page to see what career allows someone the time paste over two of these inane things every single hour of his life.
I won’t be retiring for another 10 years, give or take. I haven’t given a huge amount of thought as to how I’ll spend my golden years. I’m thinking of taking up fly fishing, or maybe opening a combination craft brewery/yoga studio so I can touch my toes before my beer belly gets too big. In the event that I choose to spend my hard earned retirement posting buckets of virtual bumper stickers all over social media sites, I hope one of my actual friends will come over and smother me with a pillow as I sleep.
By now you may have heard about the Fox News anchor who used a racially derogatory word in her discussion of Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars. The beauty-pageant winner turned newscaster said it was hard to really hear Gaga’s voice with all of the “jigaboo music” accompanying the singer. I missed seeing the Academy Awards again this year. I think my streak for skipping that show for 56 consecutive years is impressive, but I’m not here to grandstand.
Since I didn’t see it, I guess there’s a slim possibility that Gaga’s back-up music was so raucous and bizarre that the standard English language was simply insufficient to adequately describe it. If that was the case, the reporter had little choice but to resort to jerky hand gestures or funny sounding slang words like “razzamatazz” or “badonkey-tonk”.
When criticized for her use of the slur, the news anchor Tweeted her little heart out, spewing apologies and offering the explanation that she didn’t actually know what the word meant when she said it (twice, but who’s counting, right?). The guy to her left seems to be a little more familiar with it.
In these N-word sensitive times, many white folk simply aren’t up to speed with the broad selection of racial epithets available out there to insult most any group. In truth, there’s no shortage in colorful words and phrases with which to simultaneously flaunt both ones racist leanings and impressive vocabulary. I’m not interested in helping popularize any of these lesser known terms and will keep them to myself, unless someone cuts me off in traffic.
As a lifelong speaker of English, I understand that we sometimes say things we don’t mean to. I say the wrong thing fairly often, such as “Hell yes!” to the offer of yet another pint of beer when I meant “No thank you”. The difference is that I know the meanings of the words, I just chose the wrong ones.
When I go to Starbucks, I order whichever coffee drink I’m interested in having, and specify whether I’d like a small, medium or large. I do not order a yeti or a grande. Though I’ve certainly been to enough Mexican restaurants to know that grande probably means large, I’m not positive, so I don’t use the word. To further complicate things, Yeti is another name for Bigfoot, which has the word “big” right in it. No wonder people are confused. Besides, the whole thing smacks of pretentiousness, but that’s for another blog post.
The real story is not that some perky newscaster used a racist term. The big message is that this woman, who talks for a living, had no idea what she was saying! Thousands of viewers tune in to find out what’s going on in their corner of the world and this is one of the people who tells them!? She didn’t know what it meant, and said it anyway – at least that is what she Tweeted, but there’s a chance that she also types things she doesn’t know the meanings of.
It’s commendable that people turn on the news in the first place, considering the sensationally tragic nature of most news stories. Even if some of them are only tuning in to find out who won the game or to ogle the weather girl, at least they’re taking some slight bit of interest in the world around them and not parking themselves in front of a “13 Wives and Counting” marathon on A & E.
This talking head has done little to restore peoples’ faith in the news media. If only she’d stuck to the teleprompter. In other news, Walter Cronkite is still spinning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken on a cordless drill. When pressed for a comment, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley both stated they could do a better job handling broadcast news despite their mutual state of deadness. Stay with us for continuing coverage, we’ll be back with weather and sports after these messages (Pull back to studio shot and cue the Starbucks commercial).
A friend of mine posted this thing on Facebook. It’s a shining example of one of those passive-aggressive/feel-good/one-upsmanship things that show up there. My interpretation of the message is “Look at me and how selfless and wonderful I am! You can try to show how great you are by re-posting it, but you’ll never be as great as me, because I posted it first. If you don’t re-post it, we can all just accept how horrible a person you must be.” (Your interpretation may vary, it’s a free world). Here it is:
Since it’s posted here and not on my Facebook page, readers are permitted to not feel guilty if they are okay with orphans remaining alone or for sick people staying ill. As a rule, my Facebook page seldom shows much more than my blog links. I try to avoid posting any sort of “happy horse-shit/pray for my cancer riddled Dachshund/what-the-world-needs-now-is-love-sweet-love” types of things. Ironically, since there will be a link to this post, the above message will end up showing up on my Facebook wall, albeit in a roundabout sort of way.
Faithful readers may recall my earlier attempts at creating my own stuff to post on Facebook. In one blog post I came up with several inspirational posters, and in another I developed a yet to be patented decoder ring for FB posts. Sadly none of them have taken off and been re-posted hundreds of thousands of times. The lack of a meteoric rise in success of posters like the one below may be due to a paucity of wit among readers*, a lack of readers in general, or the fact there are no kittens in any of the photos.
(* Not you, Darling, those other readers – you know who I mean!)
Despite my previous failures, the post that my friend passed along like an emotional flu bug has inspired me to try one more time. I’ve developed my own “I Want I Want I Want” poster, which is brutally honest and not designed to make anyone feel crappy for not posting it. That being said, if you don’t post it on your Facebook wall, I’ll mope around the house and wish I’d never gone to all this trouble.
There’s a cool thing all over Facebook. The program asks you a bunch of questions about yourself, and in return tells you which character you’d be in “Game of Thrones”, or “Star Wars”, or “To Catch A Predator.” As if finding out which character you’d be in a make-believe TV show or movie isn’t enough fun, you can also choose to use your initials to find out what your dragon name would be, if you were, you know, a dragon.
Even though I’m almost positive that Facebook is selling my personality quiz answers to the marketing expert with the deepest pockets, I went ahead and took every one of these tests I could find, for the sake of my art (Plus, I didn’t have much else to write about since the polar vortex is pretty well spent as a subject). Here now, in no particular order, are the results:
Which “Star Wars” Character Are You?: You’re competitive and incredibly loyal. Your strong spiritual beliefs guide you through this land and will serve you well in faraway galaxies. You are Ghan-Ghan, R2-D2’s pet electric can opener from “Star Wars XVII – Escape From Popularity”
Which “Star Trek” Character Are You?: You are self-reliant and very independent. Ever an opportunist, you’re always on the look out for an advantage. You put no stock in organized religion or coed team sports. You are Phylleus, warrior of the Wo-Ran dynasty from “Star Trek – When Epics Fail; The Auroras Bore Me, Alice”. Your character can be seen for roughly 23 seconds in the 43rd minute of the movie.
Which “Disney” Character Are You?: You have an insatiable hunger for cheese. Your habit of scurrying along baseboards and wearing four-fingered white gloves does not go unnoticed. Those ears of yours are rather prominent. You are “Flounder” the blue and yellow fish who is any species other than flounder from The Little Mermaid. Click here for special values on great Disney products and promotions reserved for “Flounder” types like you!
Which “Game of Thrones” Character Are You?: Your trait of having never really paid attention to the names of characters is obvious from the answers to the personality test. There is a deep and complex story being told here – Game of Thrones is more than just topless medieval chicks and people beheaded with single swipes of broadswords. Your character is Paal-Gor from the Hidden Valley of Theon. If you want to see who he is, try watching an entire season and paying attention.
Which “The Big Bang Theory” Character Are You?: You are clearly not a genius, and as such you do not qualify to be one of the main characters. In addition, you are not an attractive female, so you cannot be Penny either. You are Zumwalt the kindhearted dishwasher at The Cheesecake Factory where Penny works. Zumwalt has no lines, but he scrubs a mean pot.
Which “Gilligan’s Island” Character Are You?: Your lack of responses to quiz questions 3, 7 and 14 – 22 eliminate you from consideration for any main role. You are Thurston Howell III’s croquet mallet.
What Is Your Dragon Name?: Your dragon name is Fiery Diarrhea. You fly through the barren mountain passes in the mythical land of Haben-Aero.
What Is Your Rap Name?: Your rap name is Scratchy Smooth. Your def lyrics are interspersed with the rhythmic scratching of your chronic eczema.
What Is Your California Prison ID Number?: Your number is 0098329904-K. You are currently incarcerated for insurance fraud. Your cellmate is in for assault, attempted murder and animal cruelty. You have no gang affiliations yet, and shower day is Tuesday. It is recommended that you start fashioning a shiv from an old toothbrush and learn to make wine in a stainless steel toilet.
What Career Should You Actually Have: According to our personality test, you should be the curb man on a trash truck in suburban Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Your ability to jump on and off slow moving vehicles and tolerate foul smells will serve you well. In addition, your embracing the idea of one man’s trash being another man’s treasure may result in an early retirement.
What Animal You Would Be If You Weren’t Already A Human Animal?: You personality test reveals that you would be an indecisive raccoon on the side of a busy interstate. You might not be one for long though. Looks like there’s a break in the traffic right here, you should go…Now!…No! Wait!…No No – Go! Oops.
Which “Sopranos” Character Are You?: The results show that you’re already in Jersey and a little overweight. You are Freddy “Pine Nuts” DiDomenico. You may or may not currently be in the witness relocation program, and we really can’t give any more details than that.
As we learned from my answers in the “Which ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ Character Are You?” quiz, I’m exceedingly generous. In that spirit, if you tell me one or two things about yourself in the comments section, I will tell you which character in my many blogs or in my personal life best matches your unique personality. If you give me no traits, I’ll just randomly assign one to you, and we’ll all have a hearty laugh at your expense.
I commented to my long suffering wife the other day about my recently having achieved another landmark in followers.
“Honey, my blog now has over fourteen hundred followers!”
“That’s nice dear,” she replied, but then asked “Does that mean something?”
I rolled my eyes discretely at her lack of comprehension of the nuts and bolts of blog mechanics.
“It means that every time I write a new post, one thousand four hundred and seven people, collectively known as my followers, are notified of this momentous event. They can then scramble to the nearest smart phone, laptop or if they’re homeless, the public library, and hang on my every word. Despite the publishing industry’s opinion that I have very little to offer in the way of writing skills, there are fourteen hundred people who feel otherwise”
“That’s nice, dear.” she said, already refocusing her attention back to the sudoko puzzle or Kindle or whatever that thing was that allowed her to ignore me.
I sat there, mildly upset that she had not suggested uncorking some champagne to celebrate. I turned my attention back to my trusty computer and looked at one of my latest posts. This particular one was a whimsical discussion as to the merits or drawbacks of a dog having multiple penises, as originally suggested by former President William Jefferson Clinton. Then I jumped over to the stats page.
The post had registered 11 likes and 141 people had actually read it. These numbers are pretty typical for my posts.
I have a list of 70 or 80 people who I notify en masse via email whenever I post, most of them are not technically “followers” as far as WordPress is concerned. The email recipients are coworkers, family members and the receptionist at my urologist’s office among others. Many read the posts so they can avoid being badgered by me to do so, and at least one coworker has admitted to only reading my blog when seated on the toilet. Of my 141 hits, I’d estimate that 27 of them were from my stash of these non-follower, peer-pressure readers.
I try to tag my posts in a manner which accurately guides readers to my work. After all, it’s easy to attract readers from search engines by including content tags like “Bieber”, “Kanye”, “public urination” or “Kardashian” despite the fact that the post was mostly about my fondest Thanksgiving memory. My tags for the dog weenie post were “Clinton”, “dog”, “lucky”, “two”, “humor”, and “dick.”
My estimates for hits generated per tag are as follows:
Clinton: 6 hits. Rationale: Bill, Hillary and Chelsea are still news worthy, depending upon the week’s events. Funk master George Clinton may have been good for a hit as well.
Dog: 4 hits. Rationale: Everybody likes dogs, also I noticed Korea was well represented in my global numbers.
Lucky: 5 hits. Luck and/or being lucky is always a popular concept, though being as lucky as “a dog with two dicks” is still an analogy known only to Bill Clinton and the hill-people.
Two: 7 hits. Two is a pretty good number. Everyone knows that one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.
Humor: 6 hits. In these dark times, everyone could use a laugh. They’ll plug words like “humor”, “chuckle” and “guffaw” into search engines and hope for a few yuks to take their minds off of the rumors about lay-offs down at the salt mine.
Dick: 13 hits. I’m assuming I would have had even better numbers if Clinton had said Obama was luckier than “a pussycat with 17 titties.”
Those estimates account for 41 of my hits coming from search engines.
So between search engines and my personal mailing list I’ve accounted for 68 of my 141 hits. Assuming no random hits, I can deduce that the remaining 73 hits on my post came from actual followers.
1407 followers minus the 73 who actually read the post leaves 1334 followers who didn’t read my post. Roughly 95% of my followers didn’t follow me loyally enough to read my post. Cue the sad violin music and zoom in on the tears welling up in my eyes. As for the “likes”, 11 out of 1407 followers isn’t even relevant. Mathematicians could argue that statistically no one actually liked the post.
I glanced over at my wife, who was so engrossed in the romance novel on her Kindle that she had fallen asleep. I smiled to myself, secure in the knowledge that for the time being at least, she didn’t know what a total failure I turned out to be in the blog world, despite amassing 1407 followers. That bottle of bubbly can just keep on taking up valuable refrigerator space until we have something meaningful to celebrate, like Justin Bieber publicly urinating on a prostitute who turned out to be a Kardashian.
I click on Facebook more often than I should. I admit to having a burning desire to know what that girl from my 5th-grade Earth Science class is up to now that she’s in her mid-50’s. From what I understand, she’s unhappily divorced and living with her elderly parents and a three-legged cat named Squiggy. For the detail seekers amongst you, Squiggy was diagnosed with a rare feline circulatory disorder just over a year ago. Despite the prayers and smiley-face emoticons sent his way, Squiggy lost the wheel anyway. For his part, he doesn’t appear to miss the leg too much, though it’s hard to tell from the pictures.
That’s the thing with Facebook – you can’t always tell what’s really going on. There are posts and photos galore, but sometimes it’s hard not to imagine that there’s more to the stories. With this in mind, I’m developing something called the Social Network Objective Reinterpretation Tool, or SNORT. When completed, this tool will be able to take a standard Facebook post and reinterpret it to give the reader the poster’s actual message. The results look promising so far, but I’ve still got a few bugs to work out.
Here are a couple of quick SNORT interpretations.
Original Post: “I’m going to miss my son/daughter when I drop them off at college for the first time next week.”
SNORT version: “That’s right bitches, my kid is going to college! You whispered behind my back that he looked “a little slow” at that birthday party back when he was turning 6, even though I had already explained that it was because he was taking allergy medicine. I knew you didn’t believe me.”
Original Post: “Congratulations to my daughter Savannah and the rest of the Pikesville 8-and-under swim team on another great season! Go Pikers!!!”
SNORT version: “Savannah can swim, just not fast enough to get a medal. I hope this post soothes the sore feelings about my forgetting to bring brownies to the Tri-County qualifier meet.”
Original Post: (Inspirational Poster).
SNORT version: “I’m feeling like this quote from some guy I’ve never heard of is right along the lines of how I’m feeling today, but there’s a strong possibility that I posted it because I like pictures of unicorns and rainbows.”
Original Post: “If you’re against child molestation, you’ll repost this.”
SNORT version: “If you were a child molester, posting something like this would be a good way to make people think that you weren’t.”
Original Post: “This is a test…this will determine my future on FB
Don’t often do this but….It occurs to me that for each and every one of you on my friends list, I catch myself looking at your pictures, sharing jokes and news, as well as support during good and bad times….[blah blah blah blah for a ton more words, then ends with the following:]… So, if you read this, leave one word on how we met. Only one word, then copy this to your wall so I can leave a word for you.”
SNORT version: “A clever vehicle constructed to help people with failing memories remember how they ever came to know their “friends” on Facebook in the first place. Sadly, the use of a one word clue for the real-world connection is often insufficient to give the original poster enough information to actually recall meeting the friend. For instance, ‘church‘ is nowhere near as descriptive as ‘we used to go sniff glue together out behind the church’.”
Original Post: “Joe Blow is listening to Nickleback on @Okeydokey Internet Radio – you should too!”
SNORT version: “Joe Blow’s taste in music is nearly as horrific as his taste in TV reality shows. If you join him, all your friends will see what hideous taste you have.”
Original Post: “Joe Blow is watching the “Say Yes to the Dress” marathon on TLC.”
SNORT version: “Joe Blow’s taste in reality TV is even worse than we had originally thought. If you want to watch this crap, it’s your business, but letting everyone on Facebook know about it is just a bad idea.”
Original Post: (Biblical quotes, requests for prayers and/or offerings of blessings)
SNORT version: “I may not attend services with any regularity or behave in a very pious manner, but I’m hoping Jesus is on Facebook. If he is, I’ll try to friend Him .”
Original Post: “Hey everybody, click this link to see my latest blog post.”
SNORT version: “Thanks to this blog, I can tell people that I’m a struggling writer and not a middle-aged loser.”
Obviously interpretations like that last one are examples of the kinks in the program which still need to be ironed out. I’m thinking once I get this working well, I can create an app with it and sell millions of them. Once I’m rolling in the bucks, I’ll quit my dead-end job and maybe get myself a Trans-Am and some hair-plugs.
I admit that I spend too much time on this blog making fun of people on Facebook. Obviously, I’m on FB myself, or I wouldn’t be privy to the treasure trove of idiocy which shows up magically every few minutes. I might not feel feel like taking the time to maintain traditional relationships with most of the “friends” I have there, but I’m okay with spending the handful of minutes it takes to feel superior to many of them.
If there isn’t sufficient fodder for my cynicism in the main section of the page, my eyes wander to the upper right corner where some friend or acquaintance will have just “liked” someone else’s photo or status. No matter what time it is or what day of the week, another one of my friends will post a status which is at once noble and yet indescribably trivial. I refer of course, to the following Facebook status gem:
“Joe Blow gave Life in Candy Crush Saga.”
(For those of you who think I have an actual Facebook friend named Joe Blow, please return to almost any of my previous blog posts and consider that I might be making that name up. For those of you who might actually be named Joe Blow, my apologies, but I’m pretty sure you’re used to being the brunt of jokes by this point in your lives – feel free to hate your parents for their lack of both creativity and foresight.)
We just celebrated Mother’s Day. Memorials and salutations dominated the landscape of Facebook as old photos of mothers and grandmothers graced the digital pages. People who despised their mothers when I knew them back in Mrs. Benedict’s Social Studies class now took great pains to try to make it up to them by posting dog-eared photos of dear old Mummsy. They proclaimed their mothers were the best mothers ever. Their own children may have even proclaimed them to be the best mothers ever, thus creating an umcomfortable tableau for the medals ceremony. Contrary to everyone’s claims, my mother is actually the best. No wait…I’m changing my vote to my wife, she’s the best…no, I mean my daughter…no…no, I’m going to stick with my wife as the world’s greatest mother of all time. Irrespective of whose Mom is the best, they all have one thing in common: They gave life.
I ache to know if giving life in Candy Crush Saga is similar to doing so in a delivery room or in the backseat of a cab on the shoulder of the Cross Bronx Expressway. As a man, I’m already relegated to the sidelines of the birthing process as it is. Despite my desire to know, I can’t bring myself to actually go play CCS . I live in fear of what people will think of me if my status says that I’ve given life in there. My bosses will instantly know that I have entirely too much time on my hands. My wife (Best mother – ever!) will realize that I did in fact have time to pick up dog dookie from the yard, but chose instead to dawdle on the computer. My kids will know that at least I’m not looking at fetish porn. The icing on my cake of shame will be that my friends from 7th grade will know that I’m every bit as pathetic as they are.
I know it’s just another addictive app on Facebook, taking its rightful place in the Pantheon of Time Wasters, among such legends as Farmville and Mafia Wars. Though I’ve never played CCS, I’m going to go out on a limb an guess that it has something to do with crushing candy. I imagine there are different degrees of squashing sweets. Certainly it’s one thing to step on a lint-covered Wint-O-Green Lifesaver, and entirely different to drop a freight car full of Necco Wafers off a bridge.
Regardless of what the game actually entails, I take exception with the app creator’s choice of names. It takes balls to name any game a saga, let alone one which revolves around smashing Root Beer Barrels and Atomic Fireballs. It may be fun, and you may waste years of your life playing it, but that doesn’t qualify it as a saga.
The word “saga” can apply to nearly any batch of books written by James Michener. These thick-as-a-brick tomes often span multiple generations and pivotal eras in history. They may also include some heavy mythical stuff, like “Beowulf”. If a film is made, it should feature saga-friendly actors like Tom Selleck and Richard Chamberlain. Sagas still in book form can be found holding up the one corner of the coffee table where the leg was broken off during your parents’ lone attempt at a get-away weekend back in your teenage years. In a bizarre twist, that ill-fated get-away weekend was to celebrate Mothers Day.
Paralyzed by the fear of looking ridiculous and already over-booked in more meaningful free-time pursuits, I guess I’ll never know the joy and satisfaction of giving life in Candy Crush Saga. True to most trends, CCS will eventually run its course and be replaced by some other time-sucking app with a goofy name. In just a few short years, people’s status update will show the latest news:
“Joe Blow just gave flames to his candles and Iced Layer 147 on his Cake of Shame”