Friday, July 19, 2013

Be Excellent To Each Other

                Let’s take a few minutes to talk about Facebook.
                Way back in the 2000’s it was a dark, desolate time. When people wanted to talk to each other, they had to “call” each other on phones. Texting was not readily used, and required mashing numbers on a phone until eventually, you got the letter you wanted. Social Media Networks consisted of people hanging out with each other, in person. It was dark.
                Then, some guy no one remembers invented Friendster. I’m not sure if this is how it’s spelled, or if it’s even the first social media network, but it was at least the first one that I was widely aware of. Following Friendster it was Myspace which, in addition to letting you all be friends with Tom, letting everyone know which song you wanted to play for five seconds at top volume before it was turned down, it also let you know who the top eight people you loved more than anyone else in the world were. It was a glorious, glorious age.
                But not wanting to stop at that, eventually a guy named Mark Zuckerberg (known as that rich D-Bag to the people he may or may not have stolen Facebook from) created Facebook. It was a social media network unlike any other. A shining city where all those people in High School you moved 5000 miles to be away from can find you, and your grandmother can totally see those pictures of you hitting up the beer bong.
                Actually, joking aside, I don’t have a problem with Facebook. It actually is something that the internet should be good at – keeping people in touch – and boils it down to it’s purest, hey look at what I had for dinner last night, form. I like the people I knew in High School, some of them. I’m sad we lost touch. Now, rather than losing touch, I can still say “hi.” We aren’t close, we won’t be the godparents of each other’s kids, but I get to stay in touch with some people from a time in my life that may have been awkward, but at least I didn’t have to spend most of my hard earned money on fixing woodrot.
                I digress.
                The real problem with Facebook, and what I’d like to talk about today, has to do with last Saturday Night. Something controversial happened last Saturday night. While normally I love controversy and would like to pick apart the arguments of people, I just couldn’t. Because a lot of the stuff I saw was all over Facebook, and it’s the people I’m supposed to like. Some of them were saying pretty horrifying things, I have to say.
                There are two problems wrapped up in this, actually. One is a minor one: We disagree all the time. Hey, you liked Spider-Man 3… no sweat, I’m sorry your taste in movies suck. We disagree on music… I don’t know what a Mackelmore is,  but I know that Hot 99.5 playing “Thrift Shop” for the 700th time that hour while the fake sounding morning DJ (I have to do a Bad Shakespeare Post on my hatred for The Kane Show…). But for some reason, I find that you voted for the dishonest politician that was opposite of the dishonest politician that I voted for, and we’re mortal enemies, all the smiling photos of us celebrating in the sun be damned.
                The other problem wrapped up in this is that magical word you know I love: Research. I commented earlier that this was not going to be a post about what happened on Saturday, because I didn’t do enough research into it. I didn’t care to. The whole situation made me sick, I formed my own opinions before looking into it, and while I have them, I’m not going to foist my opinions on you when I know they’re based mostly on emotions. But it seems like everyone finds that one random wonderful picture from a TV show that someone helpfully put white text on the bottom and suddenly… YOU’RE AN EXPERT! It’s not even your words, or your funny (unless you invented them… then kudos, especially whoever did the Futurama Not sure if… one. That’s my favorite.) But some of them get mean spirited, and it’s not what friends are supposed to do. That’s not what civilized society was meant to do.
                Now I’m obviously not calling for an end of debate. Debate’s good. Rational debate and argument is a good thing. It’s what our country was founded on. (Originally Ben Franklin wanted to call it “Americaland” and every Tuesday was topless. Damn Jefferson talked him out of it.) But reposting a mean-spirited meme because you can’t be bothered to go out and do your own research, particularly on a website designed for everyone to stay in touch isn’t exciting or fascinating. It’s lazy. And mean.
                We’ve gotten to a sad point where rational research isn’t done anymore. We’ve gotten to the point where it’s easier to regurgitate a made up fact because thinking about something is hard. We’ve gotten to the point that because one person we don’t like does something, then suddenly that something is not ok.  This isn’t the way people are supposed to act. This is the way that third graders act. Yeah, Facebook, Myspace, and whatever comes next (MyBookStergramwer. Designed by me and four other people I’m going to screw out of a billion dollars. Aaron Sorkin, you may use this blog to make your movie.) are GREAT to help us reconnect, but what compels you to share so much of your life that you NEED to post some ill researched picture of a kitten pointing a gun with statistics on it that would make some statistics using guy laugh? (I really searched for a famous mathematician.) Would you walk into a party with your friends, shout Archduke Ferdinand was a tool who deserved it (too soon?) and kill the party?
                There’s a story my mother likes to tell about my Grandfather. He was with a group of friends and somehow, they got to talking about Politics. They were shouting at each other, yelling, calling each other names. I think someone bit another person. Finally my grandfather stood up, held up a hand and looked around. He said, “That’s nice. Enough about politics. Let’s start talking about religion.” Everyone sort of laughed, shook hands, and that was that.
                I’m not saying avoid the debate. I’m not saying don’t express your opinions. I’m saying that maybe, just maybe before you post something, ask yourself it 1) it’s something you’d say to everyone or 2) did you research it, (ACTUALLY RESEARCH) or are you parroting something that reinforces what you want to believe.
               It's like those two great ones once said... "Be Excellent to each other..."

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