Facebook Decoder Ring

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.

Squiggy lays on the floor in the most hazardous spots.  It's only a matter of time before he's going to get tangled up in Dad's walker.  (Image from echeng dot com)
Squiggy lays on the floor in the most hazardous spots. It’s only a matter of time before he’s going to get tangled up in Dad’s walker. (Image from echeng dot com)

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.”

Maybe he'll make the dean's list, or maybe he'll find a market for those allergy meds.  (Image from quickmeme dot com)
Maybe he’ll make the dean’s list, or maybe he’ll find a hot market for those allergy meds. (Image from quickmeme dot com)

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.”

Why ruin this illustration with an attempt at a witty caption?  (Image from demotivational posters dot com)
Why ruin this illustration with an attempt at a witty caption? (Image from demotivational posters dot com)

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.”

Several major college football teams have changed the names of the positions in their defenses due to no one wanting to play "Nickleback".  (Image from nashvillescene dot com)
Several major college football teams have changed the names of the positions in their defenses due to no one wanting to play “Nickleback”.(Image from nashvillescene dot com)

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 .”

I saw what you wrote on Facebook - you're allowed into heaven now. (Image from popejokes dot com)
I saw what you wrote on Facebook – you’re allowed into heaven now. (Image from popejokes dot com)

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.

Claes Oldenburg and Me – Misunderstood Artists

Recently, while driving South on Broad Street in Philadelphia, my dear friend and I spotted one of Claes Oldenburg’s impressive, whimsical sculptures.  While the subject of his piece was fairly obvious, my friend thought it looked like something else.

It’s no secret that the works of artists are frequently misinterpreted by the common rabble.  Even someone as vastly cultured as myself can look at a Rothko painting and exclaim that it looks like a big block of color with another block of color in it too.

This might be about man's inhumanity to man, or maybe it's about the artist's love of delicious strawberry shortcake...or maybe not.. (Rothko white over red - Image from etc.cmu.edu/projects/atl/rothko.htm)

I might look at a Robert Motherwell painting and see nothing more than a big black rectangle.  (On a side note, I’d like to take a brief moment to thank my parents for footing the bill for that undergrad degree which included quite a few art history courses – without their support, I might have gone through life thinking that Robert Motherwell was a British soccer player).

This is a painting by Robert Motherwell, or maybe it's a lithograph. I don't need to tell you what this is about - it's obvious. (Image by elogedelart.canalblog.com/archives/2009/06/20/14146298.html)

Oldenburg though, is not someone whose work is usually subject to such blatant misinterpretation.  He’s renowned for taking everyday objects and looking at them differently.  His sculptures include subjects such as a giant clothespin (Also in Philadelphia), a soft fabric version of a toilet and as we saw on Broad Street, a giant paintbrush with a healthy dollop of red paint on the pavement beneath it.  The tip of the paintbrush is way up in the air, a celebratory salute to Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts .  Technically, the sculpture is on a section of Cherry Street which is closed to traffic, but it juts out onto Broad Street (For the record, it’s Broad Street, putting sculptures on it and adding a few extra signs doesn’t change the name to the Avenue of the Arts – sorry).

My friend, like most people, had no idea about this whole Avenue of the Arts nonsense.  When I pointed out the giant paintbrush, she took one glance and said it looked more like an elf’s foot.  Almost immediately, we began to speculate about the state of the rest of the elf.  We settled on him being awkwardly splayed out dead on Cherry Street, in full rigor mortis, a giant cartoon butcher knife stuck in his chest and a chalk outline around his profile.  The elf in my mind would bear something of a resemblance to Sonic the Hedgehog, but more elfin and dead.  The street would be cordoned off with crime scene tape as throngs of morbid curious onlookers milled around just up-wind.

You can see where we let our imaginations get the better of us. The giant, dead elf just out of sight on Cherry Street - it looked a little more convincing from the other direction (Photo by the author)

While I don’t think that artists in general enjoy having their hard work misunderstood by stooges like us, I like to believe that Mr. Oldenburg would humor us a little bit.  Although, now that I’m a massively successful blogger working in words rather than oil or marble, I believe I’ve earned the right to identify with the frustration of the misunderstood artist.

Take comfort Claes, at least someone saw your work.  If there was a “like” button for your paintbrush, I’d hit it.

Marriage 101 Required reading: Man to woman dictionary

  • She Says: "This will hurt me more than it hurts you"
  • She Means: "If this hurts me more than it hurts you, I'm doing it wrong"

Do we have to wonder why this artist only lived to be 38?
Bartholomeus Molenaer (1612-1650)


I recently read a blog which troubled me.  The fact that I read a blog which troubled me also troubled me, as I tend to stay away from troubling blogs, preferring to occupy my time with light-hearted, funny blogs and those with pictures of cleavage in them.  The blog in question detailed a woman’s frustration with her husband.  It took no time at all to realize the problem.  These two lovebirds had a serious communication breakdown.  I felt badly for them, as there seemed to be no way this husband and wife would possibly find a way to understand each other without some outside assistance.

I knew that I had to step in and help.  I had planned on cleaning the garage and policing the yard for dog dookie, but I would have to put these selfish acts aside and work on bridging their gender communication gap first.

Here now, I present some common Man-Woman / Woman-Man translations accompanied by typical interpretations:

  • When he says:  “Honey, have you seen my car keys?”
  • He means: “I can’t seem to find my car keys – I hope you’ve seen them”

The common female interpretation is: “I’m an idiot.  Even a toddler can keep track of a jingling set of shiny keys.  Maybe in the future I should secure my keys to a massive chunk of 2 X 4 so they’re harder for me to lose in my limited mental capacity.  I don’t deserve a woman like you.  Please help me”

  • When she says: ” Does this skirt make my butt look fat?”
  • She means: “Do you ever wish you’d married someone else?  Do you realize I shopped for hours to find this skirt?  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to lose this baby weight?”

The common male interpretation is: “Don’t you dare answer this question.  It’s a trap, run..RUN NOW!!”

  • When he says: “Is that a new blouse?”
  • He means: “I wonder how it will look in a heap on the floor after we get the kids to bed”

The common female interpretation is: “Does that idiot think this is a new blouse?  I bought this back when we were still dating!  Crap, I could’ve bought a new blouse”

  • When she says: “Do you mind helping with the dishes?”
  • She means: “Do the dishes yourself and be glad I don’t break a plate over your head!  Wasn’t it enough that I cooked the dinner in the first place?  Do I have to do everything?”

The common male interpretation is: “The Browns are a 10 point dog against the Steelers.  My neck itches again.  Did she just ask me something?  Crap!  What should I say?  I’ll just nod.  Maybe if I do the dishes she won’t wait for an answer to whatever she asked”

  • When she says: “Hey Shakespeare!  I thought you were going to organize the garage today.  Why are you still sitting there typing”
  • She means: “Unless you’re going to start making money doing that blog nonsense, you better turn off the laptop and start organizing the tools and patio furniture.  And don’t forget, it was your bright idea to get a dog”

The common interpretation is: “Did she just ask me something?  Dammit, there goes my train of thought!  I was just about to come up with a witty, smart-assed way to end this post”