Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Wear everything.

     Confession: I don't hate Facebook as much as some people do. Maybe most people. As much as you probably do.
     It's useful. A ready pool of almost 5,000 noses under which to slide my column or, four days a week, my blog. 
     A curated audience. Jerks can be shown the gate. I guess they can be blocked on gmail and filtered away here. But the exile on Facebook seems more permanent. They vanish more completely, without a trace, forever.
     And Facebook is constant source of ideas. I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday afternoon on my phone, and saw a friend's announcement about ... well, I guess I shouldn't say. Something involving butterflies. I thought it would make a great column, and would put it in the newspaper right away. But, alas, she didn't want to be in the newspaper: worried about getting in trouble with her boss. Because of her personal butterfly activities. Which itself was interesting. I gently requested she think about it, maybe talk it over with her boss. The story would buck people up.
     It would sure buck me up.     
     A very 1930s, Jack London kind of expression, isn't that? "Buck you up." Sounds almost obscene now, though.
     I'm sorry, where were we? Ah yes, Facebook. Much interest there; because it has much interest in me. A robotic fascination with my past doings and jottings and quips, one that outstrips even my own, which is really saying something.
     Two days after Christmas, Facebook served up this, from 2017, when the temperature dipped to 4 below:
"It isn't bad if you dress for it," I told my wife, returning from walking the dog. "Wear everything."     
     Wear everything. Quite a good phrase, if I say so myself. Is there better advice for surviving the Chicago winter? Monday morning it was 7 degrees outside. I put on an REI fleece, with a thicker Boston Traders fleece over that, and THEN my Eddie Bauer Gore-Tex Ridgeline Parka, the one I bought when I hoped to go to the South Pole for Rolling Stone and report on the social life of graduate students at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The trip fell through, alas; the station is run by the National Science Foundation, and you need their permission. I thickly explained what I hoped to write about, and they said no. Should have lied...
       Back to the matter at hand: Out from storage came the snow pants. Lobster gloves. Two hats—a skullcap like wind block, and then a big fake rabbit-lined Northwestern hat with ear flaps that I bought for my kid when he got into school but he was too cool to actually wear, not realizing the joy with which I would appropriate it: warm AND nostalgic....
      My go-to phrase regarding clothes and the weather is, "It's never too cold in Chicago; you're just underdressed." But "Wear everything" packs more of a punch in less than a quarter of the words. It has a certain urgency, like the famous line in "Jaws," "You're going to need a bigger boat."
      It almost sounds like it applies to more than clothing, to a general need to emotionally armor yourself against everything that's going on, the plague and the politics, employment and isolation. Do everything you can to preserve your warmth, keep your spark, stay alive. Reach out to friends, plunge into literature, art, music, exercise. Layer it on. Wear everything.  


  1. Included in "everything" these days for me? A mask. We are required to wear a mask just to get out of our hundred-unit building, which doesn't bother me (much) because I'd be doing it anyway. The last few days, I've been happy to keep it on once I got outside for the warmth! Though taking the time and trouble to assemble and don "everything" in order to go for a walk -- uh -- sucks.

  2. Great photo of the coffee! I like FB a lot, but the reasons I don't may outweigh the good. Someone got my headshot & made a fake profile with my real name, and Facebook kept refusing to take it down after a ridiculous number of reports I made. Same just happened to a friend. A gross person has been making horrible comments on a neighborhood group, which I reported to FB and they claim his comments (of a sickening sexual nature towards a college student) do not violate their standards. A senior I know was duped out of tens of thousands of dollars, thinking they were donating to charity that a nun friend was a part of, using a fake account. Also, they have been a conduit for violence and fake news, and since one cannot reach them on the phone and they deny that problems are problems, it can be dangerous.

    1. Agree completely, in balance...thumbs down to FB. With all due respect to the pictures of ourselves, our grandchildren, our cats and the breathtaking beauty of our last meal.

  3. The ending of this column was almost a companion to Caren’s most recent one insofar as there was optimism. A reminder that there’s much good out there.
    Regarding FB. More harm than good.
    A podcast called Sway by Kara Swisher had an excellent episode with Sasha Baron Cohen’s well founded opinions about FB and other social media. Offered some good solutions too.
    Check out Best Of: Sacha Baron Cohen Has a Message for Mark Zuckerberg

  4. For fifteen years, I resisted Fecesbook, because I heard so many negative stories about it. But then I got banned from Nextdoor last year, after one suspension too many, and I needed a source for neighborhood happenings and a way to find out information...like someone to put on a new roof, electricians, landscapers, and the like.

    FB is a cesspool of strangers, and the neighborhood groups are moderated by power-mad admins who consider their pages to be their own little kingdoms. I've already been removed and blocked from three of them. Hey, I'm a snarky guy, who says what he thinks. In my two decades online, I've lost count of how many times I've been booted and banned.

    And FB is also very, very addictive. It's as hard to resist as tobacco. But if I could quit smoking (cold turkey), after 32 years, maybe I can kick the FB habit as well. It's mostly a terrible waste of time. You're far better off watching TV. At least the folks on TV don't snark back at you.


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