Tuesday, October 29, 2019

There are a lot of sane ones too

    Most people aren't nuts. Most people are sane enough. And smart. So it occurred to me Sunday, sharing yet another Alan P. Leonard letter—the sixth—that I was perhaps doing my readers a disservice by being a valve where only the toxically vindictive can pass through to join the cyber wordstorm.
     Actually, it didn't occur then. But later, cleaning off my desk. Sometimes the thing devolves to a mass of business cards, electronic cords, receipts, clippings, rubber bands and discarded Post-It Notes, and I have to just dive in and start filing and flinging into the garbage can.
     There, I usually find a letter or three, so interesting and well-reasoned that I set it aside to contemplate at my leisure and then answer in some witty, measured way, but invariably never do.
    Such as this, from David Stein, who has been writing to me for years. He offers some worthwhile advice—"QUIT FACEBOOK"—supporting it in a strong and articulate fashion. "Really, what would happen if you opted out?"
     I don't know, I'd ... ah ... disappear. Actually, the image he offers, "the Untouchable of Northbrook," with his begging bowl and the neighbors averting their eyes, sounds about right. This business is all about clicks, right now, and Facebook is the biggest pond where we fish for them. Anyway, there's some good lines in this, a bit of Orwell, and I felt guilty just pitching it after it sat on my desk for ... ulp ... two years, judging by his mention of naked women, which I think is a reference to this column about Howard Tullman's art collection, which got banned from Facebook for violating community standards by reproducing a photo of the risque artworks I was talking about. Anyway, it's a good read. Thanks to Dave, and to all the readers who take the time to write in, and deserve a response, even though I don't always have the time to send one.


  1. Nicely done, both idea-wise and penmanship. I heartedly welcome the electronic age, myself; otherwise, anything valuable that I might say would be irretrievably lost due to the encryption by my lousy handwriting.


  2. In my own tepid manner, I protest the damn thing also.
    But I still utilize it for eye candy, random humor and assorted oddities, keeping far away from actual interpersonal stuff.

  3. I'm with this guy. I deleted my Facebook page about a year ago. Not only don't I miss it, I always hated Facebook and never understood its appeal. To me it was a crappy, confusing interface for a lot of random garbage. Let's not forget its obnoxious origins: It started as a way for Harvard boys to rate the "hotness" of their female classmates.

    My attitude extends toward most if not all social media. Thank God the magazine I work for has a digital editor to deal with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so I don't have to.

  4. I was foolish enough to start smoking at 13 and finally quit (cold turkey) at 45, after watching my wife's mother and uncle wheeze their lives away from emphysema and cancer. I never had to deal with the agonies of quitting Farcebook because I never started. I never saw the point, nor did I have the desire. All that scrolling and updating and statusing ("What are you DOING, right now?") and images of dinners eaten and places visited and mountains climbed and those ubiqitous selfies (a word I truly despise) seemed so ridiculous, even juvenile.

    Same with the rest of what I call "anti-social media"...it seems to have dumbed down our culture, made people more angry, and turned society into one big high school. No thanks, been there and done that, in the early Sixties. Nor am I addicted to phones. I occasionally carry a crappy flip-phone I've owned since Hurricane Sandy. It has space for hundreds of contacts--I have maybe a dozen.

    Sure, FacePlace might allow me to find out what the redhead I had a huge crush on in junior high is up to these days, or to follow a few old pals and classmates. But the older I get, the less I care, because one inevitably begins comparing oneself to one's cohorts and agemates. That's a lifetime habit I've never been able to shake. Some ended up doing far better, some ended up much worse off, and more than a few are already dead.

    I'm grateful to have survived this long, and also ecstatic, as a retiree, not to have any desperate and urgent need for employment-seeking platforms like Facebook and Linked-in. The initial belief was that these technological marvels would magically unite jobseekers and employers, and ensure matches made in heaven. Instead, it has made the whole experience far worse, and has relegated job searching to the lowest circles of hell. One wrong word, one night's embarassing images or drunken mistakes, and you become unemployable.

    On the other hoof, if you aren't on social media at all, then perhaps you don't even exist. I have no problem with being an unconnected "unperson" who's totally out of the game. If never joining the sheeple means I'm not in the loop and that most people can't reach me, that's their problem, not mine. If it means they consider me I'm a recluse and a hermit, so be it. A lot of the time, I even like it.

  5. I love hearing the FB apologists reason for staying on FB: “It’s a great way to share photos with my friends and family.”
    That’s like saying, “I read Playboy for the articles.”


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