Twenty Four Hour Friendship

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).

True boobie devotees will identify this as a likely implant, since the real ones just don't stand up like that. (Image from the author's personal cache of custom inspirational FB posters, created with love and snark, by the author himself)
True boobie devotees will identify this as a likely implant, since the real ones just don’t stand up like that. (Image from the author’s personal cache of custom inspirational FB posters, created with love and snark, by the author himself)

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.

Uh oh.

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.

Put this on your Facebook page, and I won't shoot this dog (Quasi-inspirational poster by the author)
Put this on your Facebook page, and I won’t shoot this dog (Quasi-inspirational poster by the author)

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.

“Retired”

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.

What Do I Want? Glad You Asked!

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:

Someone or something on Facebook calling itself "The Mind Unleashed" came up with this, and people have been reposting it ever since.
Someone or something on Facebook calling itself “The Mind Unleashed” came up with this, and sheep people have been re-posting it ever since.

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!)

Put this on your Facebook page, and I won't shoot this dog (Quasi-inspirational poster by the author)
Put this on your Facebook page, and I won’t shoot this dog. (Quasi-inspirational poster by the author)

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.

I apologize if I come across as kind of demanding, but as long as we're on the subject, I forgot to add that I want to have my cake and eat it too - because really, what good is it having cake if you can't eat it, right? (List of what I want by the author, but feel free to post it on your Facebook page - if you can't save the image, drop me an email and I'll send you one)
I apologize if I come across as kind of demanding, but as long as we’re on the subject, I forgot to add that I want to have my cake and eat it too – because really, what good is having cake if you can’t eat it, right? (List of What I Want by the author – feel free to post it on your Facebook page – if you can’t save the image, drop me an email and I’ll send you one)

Crapsmanship

You've got to admit, a couple of typos really take away from the original message.  (Image from textfail dot com)
You’ve got to admit, a couple of typos really take away from the original message. (Image from textfail dot com)

I just saw yet another annoying attempt at a memorial poster on Facebook.  It was supposedly created by a guy who is known there as johnconnor1964.  This particular poster was of a single set of footprints in the sand.  Written over the photo were the following words:

“What I would give to hold your hand,

 To leave our footprints in the sand,

 Never thought the day would come,

 Instead of two prints theirs only one”

It was posted on the Facebook page of a friend who often laments how deeply she misses loved ones who’ve passed away.  Apparently her own words were insufficient to express her sadness, so she let Mr. Connor’s little memorial poster do the talking for her.  Someday, when I’m not emotionally drained by the tragedy of my March Madness pool nose-diving into the toilet, I’ll write in greater detail about Facebook as a place for memorials.

I don’t mean to come across as an elitist, or to trivialize the sorrow of my Facebook buddy, but Mr. Connor’s literary effort can best be described as a shining example of “crapsmanship”.  The thought behind the poem is sweet enough, but the forced composition and misuse of “theirs” instead of “there’s” just destroys what little hope this gem had to begin with.  His intent was to bring to mind the emptiness of missing a lost loved one.  Instead of fond memories of Uncle Phil, Connor’s poem reminds me of an old standard which used to be found with some regularity on the partitions of pay toilets.

It went;

“Here I sit,

Broken hearted,

Paid my dime,

And only farted”

To be fair, the pay toilet poem is a clever bit of potty humor and John Connor’s creation never really stood a chance in a comparison with such a classic.  Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, the dime was replaced with a quarter in later years to reflect the increased costs of dropping a deuce.  Literary historians agree that the extra syllable of the updated version took away from the playful rhythm and energy of the original.

Putting a witty caption under this gem is like putting icing on top of the cherry on top of a sundae.  (Image from chopped liver roadkill dot com)
Putting a witty caption under this photo is like putting icing on top of the cherry on top of a sundae. (Image from chopped liver roadkill dot com)

Many people think that quality workmanship should only apply to things like custom cabinetry and Italian loafers.  This is simply not the case.  If I learned nothing else in Mr. Barton’s 7th grade woodshop class, it was the value of doing a job well.  Whether you’re building a napkin holder or writing a four line poem, you should strive to rise above mediocrity.  Mr. Barton would tell anyone who’d listen that the excuse behind crapsmanship is a simple one – for some people, it’s just too much work to do a job well.  Then he’d go on to tell you why excuses are like rear-ends, but we’ll save that pearl of wisdom for another post.

As if  crapsmanship in the realm of the written word isn’t bad enough, the damage is compounded when others actually embrace it.  People accept a lack of quality, and proudly display it on their Facebook pages like commemorative plates with depictions of Elvis and the twelve disciples enjoying fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches at the last supper.  You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to know that Elvis served hush puppies and barbituates at that particular dinner party.

Crapsmanship is slowly becoming the norm.  People don’t see a problem with the wall paint smearing up onto the white of the ceiling.  If a table is wobbly, a few sugar packets or a pack of matches will steady it; there’s no need to demand four legs of equal length or a level floor to put it on.  You’re talking Applebee’s on a Friday happy hour – you should be thrilled to have any table!  With crapsmanship the accepted norm, caring about whether or not a sentence contains erroneous homonyms might seem a tad fussy.

Even I will admit that writing a poem with grammatical mistakes isn’t a cardinal sin.  Putting that hokey poem over a photo of footprints in the sand may be incredibly trite from a design standpoint, but it’s not going to get you jail time.  John Connor put what is presumably his name on this poster.  Perhaps he doesn’t care what the grammar police will say.  There’s an outside chance that he is actually the John Connor of “The Terminator” fame and realizes that once cyborgs take over, spelling and syntax will lose what little value they still possess.

In everybody's favorite line of the movie, Arnold's in the police station.  He says to the desk sergeant "Aisle Bee Bach"
In everyone’s favorite line of the movie, Arnold says to the desk sergeant, Aisle Bee Bach (Image from fan pop dot com)

Perhaps the people who use Connor’s poster to express their feelings are so overwhelmed with melancholy that they don’t even realize that it’s riddled with butchered English.  Maybe I’m reading too much into this.  Still, I can’t help but think that settling for such a vintage example of crapsmanship will cost users a degree of perceived sincerity of their original sentiment.

I realize that the status of ones Facebook page is transient at best.  For chronic status-posters like my friend, there will always be a new update to replace the last one.  Facebook statuses are as impermanent as the footprints in the shmaltzy photo on the poster.  Regardless of the fleeting nature of Facebook memorial posts, your late Aunt Sophie or Sparky the deceased labradoodle may be watching from the other side.  They may not care any more about grammar than you do (especially Sparky, who always cared more about dragging his butt across the Berber than he ever did about English composition).

I just want to go on the record now; I give a hoot about the proper use of the English language to lament the passing of a loved one.  If any of you think I’m going to just lie there a-moldering in the grave while you post poorly composed, typo-ridden poems about me, you’ve got another thing coming.  I’ll bring a red pen back from the grave and haunt your ass.

Inspirational Poster Proposals for Facebook

After writing my post about the over-use of inspirational posters on Facebook, I decided to come up with a few of my own.  I had a ton of old digital photos including some from a vacation to the Pacific Northwest.  After a little time screwing around with my computer, I was able to put some inspirational words of wisdom on the images.

Without much more of my pesky dialogue, here are some more of them.  I’m hoping to put them next to myself on Facebook.  In the event you have no taste (you’re already reading my blog), I want to make them available to you, my faithful readers to put next to your names on Facebook if you so desire.  Since I took the photos and came up with the quotes, there’s no need for copyright concerns.  If you somehow missed the previous post, click this link – Cheap Sentiments.

Cheap Sentiments – Get ‘Em While They’re Hollow!

Apparently, I am far from being the only person to be annoyed by uber-cute posters like this. A quick internet search for this poster revealed tons of cynical and occasionally grisly remixes of this image.

As my loyal readers may know, I rejoined the bizarro-world better known as Facebook after a year away.  I went back for one reason only – to drum up some readers for my dopey blog posts.  At the time, it seemed a small price to pay for my own perception of popularity.

Many people will admit to a bit of sentimentality when it comes to catching up with friends on Facebook, I have to confess that it’s been stirring up a very specific piece of nostalgia for me (Cue the time-travel music and wavy-screen effect).

It was the carefree days of my freshman year in college.  The rigors of high school and  oft-embarrassing life history of my hometown were behind me.  I was a whole state away from those ancient gaffs.  My slate was clean and I was making the most of it.

I’d chat up some little cutie from the dining hall, and before too long, I’d be hanging around in her dorm room.  Her pleasant-but-dumpy room mate would be there as well.  While my amorous intentions were held in check by the presence of Mandy or Becky or whatever the hell her roomie’s name was, I would look around the dorm room, sizing the place up, hoping to spot some clues which might come in handy later if whatsername ever left.

There were two staples in any of these freshman girls’ dorm rooms;

The first was a prom picture of the girl in her gown holding a corsage with some dude in a powder blue tuxedo.  The size and display of the photo spoke volumes.  The bigger the photo, the more likely she was still carrying a torch for him.  If it was in a massive Rococo frame surrounded by a semi-circle of votive candles, that would usually be an even worse sign.  If, on subsequent visits to the room, you noticed that the picture was missing or face down on the dresser, things were looking better.  If on a later visit still, you noticed that she had cut him out of the picture or somehow mutilated his image, that was even better.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep any photo mutilation in mind for the future in case things with this young lady actually proceeded into some sort of relationship.  Knives and razor blades in the hands of a scorned college coed can be hazardous to one’s health.  Still on the topic of one’s health, another good use of the prom photo was for reconnaissance, in case her knucklehead date turns out to be the possessive type and comes to visit some weekend, it was probably a good idea to know what this former all-county linebacker looked like.

All-County linebacker?! From what county?! In which state?!!
(pic from piclab.com)

The other mandatory feature in all of these dorm rooms were the schmaltzy posters hung on the rather institutional walls.  There were two posters which seemed to be on nearly every freshman girl’s dormitory wall.  The first had a  kitten on it, clinging to a span of clothesline with the words “Hang in there, baby!” in jaunty letters somewhere on the image.  The second poster would have some saccharin sweet image of a mountain sunset or a horse and foal, with the words “If you love something set it free, if comes back to you, blah blah blah”  (I’ve finally managed to forget the exact quote, so “blah, blah, blah” is kind of nice for me).  As for clues, these posters told me next to nothing.  The kitten poster was there because the girl liked kittens or because she needed an emotional boost to help her get through those tricky freshman courses for Elementary Ed majors.  The “If you love something, set it free..” poster may have been there for any number of reasons.  It could reflect a deep, philosophical stance on love’s fleeting nature, or a taste for sunsets and horses with the sappy quote as a mere afterthought.

In any case, they bothered me.  Unlike the prom portraits, the posters had no redeeming value.  To be frank, once you’ve seen one kitten dangling from a clothesline, you’ve pretty much seen ’em all.  If there was any doubt as to the worthless quality of these posters, all one had to do was look at the dorm rooms of these same girls as sophomores.  There were typically no traces of these sickly-sweet bits of visual noise.

As the years marched on and I moved into what I like to refer to as the  post-college-freshman-phase of my life, I have been blissfully spared those horrible posters.  I don’t mean to imply that my life is without schmaltzy sentimentality.  The hollow sweet phrases are still there, usually sold for 2 or 3 dollars with color coordinated envelopes from Hallmark and other purveyors of prepackaged emotional kitsch.

For the record, I don’t mind receiving a greeting card, especially if the sender writes something other than their name inside it.  There is something which borders on insulting when someone sends me a greeting card and only signs it.  It’s as if they’re saying “I have incredible fondness for you and wanted to take a moment to let you know just how much I care about you on the special occasion of your birthday / death of your uncle / recovery from same-day surgery / loss of your job.  Luckily, the folks who make greeting cards wrote this particular one and it captures all of my emotions just so.  All I had to do was pay for the card at the counter and put the old John Hancock on it.  Thanks Hallmark!  P.S. I hope you can read my signature, I signed it in the car at a red light.”

Apparently Facebook has some kind of massive photo album of inspirational Hallmark-ish quotes.  They come in a wide variety of fonts and colors.  The quotes cover every emotion known to man (OK, every emotion known to woman and more than every emotion known to man).  A person needs only find the quote of their choice and click on it, and it will show up next to their name.  Other people, who are apparently even lazier than the original virtual-Hallmark poster, can then “like” the original poster’s post of an actual writer’s quote.  It’s quite convenient to be able to post your emotions by just clicking on an image of a dorm poster (Certainly it’s less labor intensive than, say, writing a massive blog post, then revising it, editing it and then hitting “publish” and regretting it).

Unfortunately, like everything else on Facebook, some people feel the need to overdo it.  I have several “friends” on there who regularly who post dozens of these little posters of deep-thoughts every day.  It’s like they have an all-you-can eat pass from the dorm poster store.  I can barely keep track of how my other friend’s quest for magic unicorn eggs in Castleville is going without these cloying posters popping up every 30 seconds.  The implied “cleverness” of the person who posted it is also kind of annoying, as they didn’t actually do much more than browse at a virtual card shop and click a key on a laptop.  Friends then “like” the little quote as if the person who clicked first had some sort of creative stake in the process.  The fact that this person clicks on more posters in a given day than most people even have time to read gives a more accurate reflection of how little they actually put into it.

So, after decades of not having seen kittens-in-peril posters, I’m now inundated with a new generation of feel good, pep-talks on people’s walls.  The difference is that now, I never even asked to hang out in their stupid dorm rooms in the first place.