June 2, 2014

FACEBOOK, The Happy Place! Warning: this is long and offensive.


I've been away from blogging for about 7 months. I decided to take a break for a while and try another avenue of sharing my work and day-to-day activities. I also felt I must have been one of the last holdouts to be on Facebook. I decided early on that I would rather have a few Facebook "friends" that were actually acquaintances at some point than collecting hundreds or thousands of "friends" like some people have done.

To be perfectly honest, once I set up my account, I immediately went "hunting." I was so curious to see the people I knew from long ago who still lived in Virginia. First, I looked for the girls from my high school that were the best looking, the brightest and then the guys who were considered the best looking, secretly hoping that the guys had aged horribly and the women had stayed the same. I began with the girls who wouldn't give me the time of day. The cheerleaders, the popular girls, the ones with the faces and bodies my friends and I admired in the halls (more like gawked at). My plan was to go to a certain popular athlete's FB profile and go through his friend list, but I found out at a recent reunion (of sorts) that he had been charged with soliciting a minor (his daughter's best friend) and was now either in jail or banned from the Internet. On to plan B.... I went to one popular girl's friend page and as I scrolled through the photos I recognized the names but I couldn't place the faces. But then, "Wait...Holy shit...this girl weighed 104 lbs in school...who is this HUGE woman holding a margarita?" I found myself saying "Holy shit" over and over again. "Who is this fat guy with a gray beard that looks like Santa?"....I see the name....my memory kicks in...."Holy shit? What happened to him?" Now, realistically, I don't expect everyone to weigh what they did in high school. But really, most of these people were slim, beautiful and athletic. You managed to gain 75+ pounds in 35 years? How does that happen? For women, I'll give you 10 lbs per kid... I'll understand someone putting on 25 lbs over the years. But a few pounds a year? Anyway, I was shocked...And realistically, they were probably shocked when they saw my face pop up. What happened to Stephen...he looks all craggly and weathered... That may be true, but I didn't get fat! Craggly is out of my control.

I have a theory about fat: There are two kinds, "poor fat" and "rich fat." Poor fat comes from eating Happy Meals and junk food, drinking soda and eating chips. Then there is "rich fat." This comes from going to nicer chain restaurants sucking down 3 margaritas, some poppers, a few bread sticks and a steak a few times a month. From going to backyard barbecues, drinking a 6-pack every time a game comes on the TV. My friends are all "rich fat." Anyway, last year someone walked up to me at a small reunion and said, "Gee, doesn't everyone look great?" I looked at him and said, "Are you kidding me? They're all fat and look like shit." That's FB...One big reunion...most of the people you didn't really ever want to see again.

Another thing I find truly annoying about FB is the mundane bullshit people post (myself included). The cake they baked, the sandwich they had for lunch, their kids jumping and playing, the bird in their backyard, their stupid dog or cat. News flash: Other than immediate family, nobody gives a shit--I promise! Then you have all the "What kind of [blank] are you?" posts. "What band are you?" "What animal are you?" "What city should you live in?"  The CRAZY thing is, I take these stupid tests wondering what kind of car I am (I was a Mercedes S-Class). You find out what city you should live in (I got Paris), and I found out I was an owl. WTF? It's addicting. Then, before you know it, you find yourself posting the sandwich you ate, the drink you just ordered and the ferry trip you rode on. And, you get pissed when there aren't enough "likes" to your own stupid mundane photos. I put up a photo of my deceased mother and I and got more likes than ever before. Later I put up some photo from a job I did that I thought was pretty nice and got 6 likes. What's up with that? Nobody likes my work? And, you feel obligated to "like" other people's stupid photos even if you think it's total bullshit. Being a photographer I admit I may be a tad more critical than most people regarding composition and such... but come on, if I see another golden sunset or kid standing on a rock while hiking I think I'll kick my Mac off of my desk. But, I grit my teeth and click "like" because they clicked "like" on my burrito post 3 days ago. It's so easy to get caught up in the FB world.

This is most annoying of all: Facebook is a happy place. Rule #1, don't piss ANYONE off. I learned this early on when one of my "friends" posted some bullshit about 2nd amendment rights with the comment "never let them take our guns." I responded simply saying that I support owning guns but also support strong restrictions such as lengthy background checks and registration. I also said that no one needs to own a semi automatic gun with a multi-shot clip. I gave her a death toll of homicides in the U.S. She went crazy telling me I was the devil and against the constitution. She said  that I "was the problem with this country." And, suddenly, I was "un-friended." I felt glad to be rid of her and also very surprised that the debate got so out of hand. I should have learned. Soon after that, a very good friend of mine's wife was posting something about the NFL. Having NOT learned my lesson I responded with a comment about how no other organization will allow a convicted felon to come back from jail and be rewarded with a $5 million dollar contract (Michael Vick). Every sports loving imbecile jumped on that post until it got completely out of hand with name calling and near threats. Everyone quickly became aware that I detest sports for so many reasons. "Really...you toss a ball and make $3 million a year and the average teacher makes $45K...You can barely spell your name you fucking meathead." In the end I was "un-friended" for a second time, and glad for it. I was sick of seeing her labor-intensive cakes she baked, complete with green frosting for grass and chopsticks for goalposts specially made for game day....With each of her posts I wanted to respond "Get a fucking life"  but held back (a Facebook no-no). Take a deep breath Stephen.... To each his own...If you want to spend 4 hours making a cake that has team names on it who am I to say I think you need a more meaningful hobby?

So, with that said...I think it's time to say farewell to Facebook. Hopefully, like Myspace...it will soon fizzle out and be a distant bad memory. Facebook, the happy place.