Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Look at me, it'll make you feel better...
Ironic that social media, which relies on people talking to everyone all the time about everything, should over time provide a running lesson on the value of silence.
But it does.
The meme not responded to. The twitter troll blocked. The invitation to list your 10 favorite albums ignored. These little acts of resistance build up, become precious. Lately on the rare times I react to some piece of stupidity someone has posted, I immediately circle back and delete it. Because really, why ride that rocking horse? Especially when there are so many others doing it. The horizon thick with them, the Hobby Horse Cavalry of the Damned.
Even my commenting here about it—well, it reminds me about what I used to write to readers who asked why I wasn't reacting to the the latest stupidity from Fox News: "If I start responding idiotic things someone says on Fox News, it would be all I'd ever do."
However. One practice did sweep Facebook in the past few weeks that deserves noting, simply because it speaks to a large deficiency of us older people—who are, remember, the backbone of Facebook, our little meringue of significance we whip up to spoon feed ourselves and each other. With spring settling in, and high schools worldwide adjourned for the season, the senescent on Facebook began posting their own high school pictures, from deep into the 20th century, in "support" of all these unfortunate actual high school students whose proms and bonfires and conga lines and whatever are never to be, thanks to COVID-19. To somehow comfort them. Out of the goodness of our hearts.
Forgetting that no high school student worth his salt or her pepper gets within a mile of Facebook. Forgetting that, if they did, the process whereby they are buoyed up by seeing some awkward Kodachrome photo of their parents or grandparents is entirely notional. An act of faith in the curative power of our own precious selves. A trust drop into our own image, oblivious that, if anything, the supposed beneficiaries of this charity would be further mocked, had they seen it, which they won't.
Up to this point, I think I could still let the matter pass as insignificant. I have my pride, God knows, it just has a self-awareness feedback loop. But if you pull this situation apart, it touches upon something I try to remind myself, suddenly living with two men in their early 20s as I do now. Musing on what was happening with these posted class photos—old people indulging their own vanity under the pretense of helping young people—it struck me that this happens a lot, outside of Facebook.
There is the matter of advice—useless entreaties the ancient offer that reflect their own anxieties and failures, or act as a kind of lame hand-washing insurance from the potential for ill results—
"Drive carefully!"—far more than any chance that this is useful information, that it might impart any kind of practical information to anyone. I try hard, and often fail, but I do try, to neither offer unsolicited advice, nor glibly explain how to solve problems that people find themselves in. Neither are effective, or welcome.
I thought that was worth mentioning.