Friday, December 2, 2016

Cool and creepy: the wonder of Facebook

There is so much about social media that pisses me off that I often don’t know where to start.

I don’t even do Twitter. I’m not likely to start doing Twitter because of all the negative things I hear about it, the way it has gone sour, the way people attack each other. The Steven Galloway debacle is a case in point. Margaret Atwood casually swiped at a huge sector of the literary community, calling us frail maidens on fainting couches, claiming that firing Galloway because of his chronic sexual abuse of students was a “witch hunt” and “McCarthyism”.

Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet.

It gets worse, but it’s morning and I can barely get my brain around what I want/need to say. I’ve always had problems with people cadging sympathy on Facebook: “oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter that I'll have a migraine when I pick up my Giller Award tonight”, “Sick this week, don’t know how I’ll make my five-week holiday in Greece”, etc. There follows a chorus of sympathy, dozens of comments: “Oh, Diddums, just take care of yourself and I am SURE you’ll be in those Greek isles running around in your bikini before you know it.”

And then there is the “PLEASE, everyone. I am nearly at the 5000 Facebook friends limit and need to pick those last few precious spots myself, so don’t try to friend me! You will only be disappointed. I am so, so sorry, I know it's a hardship for you. But these last few names are absolutely crucial for the promotion of my next novel and might get me a spot on Ellen.”

Yesterday I saw “why do we only get to see posts from, say, fifty of our friends among the thousands we have?” As if it would be possible to see posts from 3500 people a day.

Such problems!

I know there are other things, but the one that is bugging me most right now is “I’m taking a break from social media, guys”. I see this one over, and over, and over again, and NOT ONCE has the person actually taken a “break” of more than two days. Recently it was a woman harmed by the Steven Galloway affair – bruised by a former friend who lit into her for thinking Galloway might actually have done some harm.

I can see this, can see being hurt. I’ve been hurt over and over and over again on social media, and in life. But what she said next, “I’m stepping back from social media for the rest of the year,” was remarkable, because somehow reality changed and the months of November and December collapsed down into two days, which is how long it was before she went back to posting on Facebook every day. But these posts may not even have counted: if she only posts three or four times a day, and the posts aren’t too long, is she somehow, mysteriously, still “taking a break”? Or was it all due to that Greek chorus of voices begging her to come back? Anyway, I am cynical enough now that I kept an eye on that situation, and it went exactly the way I predicted.

Am I in a sour mood? I don’t know. In a December mood, I guess. I’ve had worse. Lots worse. But this is the time of year one’s psyche adds it all up, and - BAM. I wonder what it has all amounted to.

I don’t know why I do Facebook anyway, except to put time in. It’s grey and wet out there, lousy even for taking a walk, and I am “behind” on Christmas preparations which I do not want to make.

I have people in my life, yes, precious and few, and given my family history it’s a good thing I’m not being treated like a punching bag every day. It was unlikely I would ever help co-create something this amazing (though there are those who’ve claimed it just dropped into my lap, undeserved). In truth, I would not change anything about it, or them. But they are growing up, growing away from me steadily. I am no good at loss.

Call it reality. I can’t take a break from life (then come back to it in two days!). It just keeps lumbering along. Already, atrocious things (I won't say what, but you already know) are seemingly normal. We have to do this, I guess, to stand it, to keep trying to enjoy our lives. I enjoy what I can; I honestly do, but they are all such small things.

Facebook reminds me that I will never achieve the big things I dreamed about for so long, though others did, and do. They endlessly shimmy around in their bikinis, Giller Prize in hand, to remind me of it.  Holidays. Awards. New babies. New friends. Exotic recipes that always turn out. And never a family fight. Never an alcoholic in the family. The smooth shiny facet is always kept turned towards your “friends” - but who knows what is on the other side.

Must be kind of exhausting, when you think about it.

BLOGGER'S NOTE. While thoroughly disgusted, and wondering whether I had already posted the Abbie poem and not wanting to look it up (but no one reads this anyway, so who cares), I stumbled upon something remarkable.

I cut this image out of the TV guide, the paper one I mean, back when it still existed. This was probably around 1990:

And I kept it, not knowing the provenance of the picture at all. I couldn't find anything about it, though it haunted me. It was in an ad for some sort of Billy Graham-like religious crusade. I put it in a book somewhere, not able to throw it out but not knowing what to do with it, and that was all, until it emerged again 15 or so years later, and I scanned it.

And then.

I found this, just now, just this minute! This. Is. The. Same. Puppet. It popped out at me on Google images while I searched for disaffected, desolate illustrations for this post.

Years, and years, and YEARS later, this anonymous, strange, unknown thing is now called "Cool Creepy Marionette". That is ALL I can find about this exquisite work of art. On site after site after site, the same image, replicated. 

It HAS to be the same! Even the eyes, even the mask, even the position of the hand - it's all the same. But why can't I find out anything about this except "cool creepy marionette"?

It's because the internet no longer cares about the provenance of anything. It's some sort of ultimate global Communism, everything held in common, nothing owned, least of all works of art that someone actually made - carved - imbued with a soul.

All I know is, this marionette, which looks fairly new, isn't new. In fact, I don't know how old it is.  It means something. Maybe if I keep digging, and digging, and digging, I'll find out - but I don't think so.

I don't know how to feel about this. In part, it filled me with amazement and joy - here he is again! Rediscovered: our puppet of sorrow. But then I wondered where he came from. Another lost boy? And does anybody besides me really care about it?

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