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.


  1. Beautiful. Nice tie. Left the Leisure Suit and Fro in the closet that day. Good move. That could have haunted you well past the grave.

  2. Awesome Neil! Thanks for the walk down memory lane! Think the hairstyles are coming back?

  3. C’mon, let’s see your full photo!

    Spot on with the graduation pic thing. What consolation is some 17 year old supposed to find in seeing these relics?

    1. Maybe, "there but for the grace of God?"

    2. C'mon Coey, that's the whole point! It would undermine what I'm saying if I stuck my face atop it. Besides, by the time they got done airbrushing, my senior picture looks as much like I was at the time as your senior picture looks like me, ie, not at all.

  4. I honestly could not figure out how posting 20 year old photographs of what old people looked like 20 years ago would cheer up or help current young people. (Or in my case, 40+ years ago). I also would not think to post a youtube video of a song from the 1970s as a way of communicating... anything... with someone born in the 21st century, but that's just me. The one and only exception to that rule is I think every young man should hear "Little Things Mean A Lot" by Kitty Kallen (1954) and listen to it until he memorizes every word... he will then be so good at knowing how to treat a woman that he will be grateful he heard those lyrics. I am not being ironic.

    1. Same here. Why in the world would anyone, of any age, want to see my high school yearbook photo? I don't even want to see it. I didn't want to see it the first time I saw it, which is why I threw away my yearbook shortly after it came in the mail.

      This whole post-your-yearbook-photo thing strikes me as a digital version of Grandma paging though a photo album while her grandson squirms next to her on the couch, wishing he were anywhere else.

  5. I passed on the yearbook photo request. Too lazy to dig it out more than anything. Unsolicited advice..eh...it's happened. But "drive safe", "be careful" not as much advice as they are small prayers.

  6. When I read that parents of potential 2020 grads were posting graduation photos of themselves from back in the day I thought Why? How does that possibly assuage their kids’ disappointment at not finishing out the school year, not having graduation pics taken or a graduation ceremony or the ability to attend prom, etc. How did it become “all about the parents”?

  7. I have never sipped the Farcebook Kool-Aid, but in recent days I have seen at least three warnings from the talking heads on local TV nooze, regarding the "supporting" of the unlucky Class of 2020. Somebody, somewhere, may have started this craze with honorable intentions, but it has since become a gold mine for hackers and scammers.

    Even our local Better Business Bureau and "Scam Squad" have told good-natured geezers not to do it. Apparently, it's like handing the charlatans your house keys. Too many people use the name of their high school and the year of graduation as security questions on their computers. And fraudsters are using that same information (one's alma mater and what class you were in) for con games, identity theft, and other nefarious shenanigans.

    Over the years, some of my fellow Boomers have called me foolish, and even paranoid, for refusing to join the teeming billions.They keep telling me that Farcebook would allow me to stay connected to family and friends, as in "real" friends, not merely the dubious ones who "friend" you. I have few friends and family left in my life, and I've always felt it was simply another way be victimized, similar to e-mail scams and phone scams. And I have other reasons for not joining up...but this reply is already too long.

    I'm not going to say "Told you so!" and gloat. The news about the "senior picture scammers" just makes me sad. Good people everywhere are constantly preyed upon by human vultures, who are also everywhere. The senior photo craze (and scam) is merely just another sorry example. Who knows? The scammers themselves may have even started it. It wouldn't be the first time.

  8. Your concluding paragraphs bring to mind the moral of a Thurber fable. "The saddest words of pen or tongue, are wisdoms wasted on the young."



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