Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Would-be friends

"Waiting for the Stage," by Richard Caton Woodville (Smithsonian Museum of American Art)

     Facebook is kinda curdling, along with everything else. Getting weird and unpredictable. It changed its entire look last week, then allowed me to change it back, which I did, hungry for consistency. Then Facebook told me that it would change over again anyway, soon, and then I won't be able to change back.
    What's the point of that? Either change or don't. It's like they're playing with us. I guess given how stuck we are with Facebook, we should consider ourselves lucky Facebook doesn't start doing all sorts of random shit, turning the screen 90 degrees, so we have to sit with our heads angled hard to one side to read.
    Because we'd do it. We're addicts. So I guess we're lucky Facebook doesn't start fucking with us, just because it can.
    I'm not sure what the point of the thing is anymore. Scrolling the news feed, I see how messed up my friends are, what nutbag conspiracy crap they've fallen for, or how they've wandered into some distant pasture of irrelevance. Arguing is pointless.
    Unless of course they say something that reflects exactly how I believe. I'm fine with that.
    Odd stuff keeps happening. Monday I got 15 Facebook friend requests. On an ordinary day I get none. Or one or two, from youths in Ghana, or lonely hearts in the Philippines. 
     Some Q-Anon infiltration squad? Organized Targeted Individuals? I looked at them, and they seemed fairly normal people. Russian bots designed to do damage once admitted? No ... seemed really real. Not the usual fashion shot of some busty young lady with an Urdu man's name. But actually people—all men—with hundreds of friends and posts.
    I sent them all this message:
    "So I got 15 friend requests this morning, which is very unusual, and I'm wondering what is going on. What prompted you to ask to be my friend today?"
One replied:
     You appeared in my friend suggestion, and you are my favourite Chicago columnist.
     Good enough for me! Another:
     You came up in my feed last week though I didn’t see you before. I related to your Drunkard book so long ago and appreciate your writing. I can see why you might be suspicious in this climate so just ignore the request if you’d like. 
     Of course not! Welcome to the party! A radio host wrote:

           Your line of work, my line of work, and our mutual friends!

     Okay then. C'mon in. Everybody who had a halfway sensible answer was friended. The rest, the majority, deleted. Obviously, some microscopic circuit clicked and I was dangled in front of a horde of Facebook users and 15 bit. 
      No, this isn't really going anywhere. I had a column slated for the paper for today, and here, about the Republican National Convention. But it got spiked, which doesn't happen much. Not a quality issue, I am told, but more a space issue, a game of musical chairs that I lost. Or something to that effect. Anyway, I'm not dwelling on it. Things happen. It isn't that my fierce truth was yanked back by the Powers that Be. More likely they opted for real news over the same old Neil Nattering. Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you. Some days I have two columns in the paper, so it seems fair play there should be a column day where I have none. As to why I'm not posting the column here anyway, well, call that a judgment call. I might want to cannibalize it later in the week.



  1. With apologies to Paul Harvey, “ and now we know the rest of the story.”

  2. What could you have said about the Republican National Convention? "A plague of Trumps."


  3. I never cared for Facebook, no matter the format. Just didn't like the interface. Plus, I don't need digital, up-to-the-second reminders of how few friends I have.

    That said, I sympathize with Zuckerberg and his fellow social media moguls, probably more than my fellow lefties do, over how and how much their platforms should get involved in policing content. It seems like an impossible task: let literally anyone in the world post content to your platform, then accept responsibility for scrubbing it. OTOH, Facebook etc. have been the sources for some outrageous shit, up to the coordination of actual atrocities in some countries. It's a dilemma, and I sure don't have the answer.

    1. I started smoking at thirteen and quit at 45, and damaged my lungs just enough to be told I was in the at-risk category when the Plague started (being old doesn't help, eother). If you don't smoke, don't start. And I've always felt the same way about Fecesbook. I never had the urge to consume the Zuckerberg brand of Kool-Aid, and I never wanted to start. So I never have.

      Hated the layout, and all that scrolling, and the friending bullshit, and didn't see the need for people to know what I was up to every minute. Nor did I carw what they were doing.The more bitching and whining I see, about the evils of the site, the more vindicated I feel.

      Zuck created a Godzilla, which seems to have done our culture far more harm than any possible good. He claims he does not allow atrocious content or posts that encourage violence and rioting, and then he turns his back when the shit hits the fan, because policing content would cost him money and cut into his profits. As if Zuck, who I feel was sent here from Hell by the Devil, doesn't have enough moolah already.

      Content encouraging more rioting and looting has been posted after the unrest in Minneapolis, Portland, and now Kenosha. Zuck doesn't care, and those incendiary posts, and the violence that results, do not help Biden's cause. But that's what Zuck wants, because he's a Storm Trumper. He's pretty high up on my Hate Parade, not far behind Himself. I wish he'd go back to Hell, and take Donnie with him.

  4. Ironically, the rightwingers have been whining for at least the last couple of years about being censored on Facebook, while getting away with stating as fact the most outrageous pack of hyperbolic lies one could imagine. But I kind of miss the bastards after dismissing them from my on line life. My real friends are unutterably boring to me, which leads me to believe I bore them as well, especially when I fact check their wilder asservations.


  5. I looked for your column about the RNC in today’s paper — thanks for explaining why it wasn’t there. There were other columns that could have been scratched instead of yours for cry eye! Anyway, about Facebook . . . it often suggests names of people to me that FB thinks (it’s algorithms think) I might be interested in befriending. You were apparently on their list of suggestions for a bunch of lucky folks.

  6. "Arguing is pointless." Indeed.

    I recently had a brief conversation with a friend who is a college graduate and a nice guy, but, turns out, a Trumpeter. It didn't take long to discover that he was not open to any rational discussion about our respective world-views. Not that I was surprised about that, but when he was harping on "Fake News" and proudly boasting that he doesn't read newspapers -- while also unabashedly stating that he gets his information from YouTube videos -- it made me even more concerned about the future than I was already. Even if Dolt 45 loses, we've got 1/3 to 2/5 of voters, at least, whose membership in Cult 45 is more important to them than, -- oh, let's just say reality. Uh, that's seems like a big problem.

  7. It isn't often, but I get a friend requests from women way younger than me. I will talk to them on messenger. I think a lot of them are accounts that are hacked. A lot of times their accounts just disappear. A lot of times their accounts will just disappear.


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