The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

I’ve been here before.  It’s like those movies where the hikers get that feeling that they’re lost.  “I think we’ve passed that burned out log a couple times already.   I think we’re lost, we’re going in circles.”  Well, if you’ve seen that same burned out log, you’re doing laps and – you’re lost.   I feel like, no I’m certain that, I’ve been at this Facebook watershed before – many times.   My burned out log, funny rock formation or random milestone is the Facebook blahs.  Haven’t I said, probably on this very website, that I’m thinking of dumping Facebook?  Haven’t I said it many times?  Many, many times?   And so here I am once again at the burned out log that’s Facebook, pausing and wondering whether or not to continue going in circles. 

I’ve been off of Facebook for about two weeks now having deactivated my account around the beginning of this month.  When you need a Facebook break you have three options.   The first, which my daughter in law has opted for is to simply move the app from your home screen and resist temptation.   I’m far too weak to try that option.   I’d be posting pictures of the dog, two days max.  The second option is to deactivate your account which is sort of like walking out of a room full of friends who won’t stop being annoying.    Once you reactivate you’re simply walking back into the room.  Nothing’s changed, your pictures and posts are intact and your friends are all still there (except for the ones who got huffy and dumped you when you walked out of the room).   The third option, the nuclear one, is to delete your account.   Deleting erases everything.   You didn’t walk out of the room.   It’s like there never was a room.   I don’t know one single person who’s gone nuclear and regretted it.  It’s become something to think about.

Facebook began as a benign, friendly place to visit.   I started out by friending my daughter when she was away at college.   I imagine that when you’re at a certain age and away at college, having dad friend you is one of your worst nightmares but she managed to get through that trauma.  

Much of the Facebook run has been positive.  I’ve joined interest groups and made new virtual friends, traveled with them and shared stories with them.   I’ve taken Facebook friends on virtual vacations with Cora and I, shared recipes, bragged about children and posted photos of pets, grandchildren and of course one can’t properly experience Facebook without sharing pictures of food. 

Facebook reconnected me with long lost high school classmates and family members in Wyoming and Europe.  I connected with some of the kids, now adults, who I used to coach in high school cross country and it’s been a pleasure to see where life has taken them. 

It was early in my Facebook experience that I made a discovery – politics are a big topic of discussion on Facebook.  Who knew? 

I’ve never been loath to dive into the muck of politics, much to the dismay and occasional mortification of my wife and children and other unfortunate onlookers.  And so over the years I’ve never hesitated to jump into the Facebook political bog   For the most part the political discussions/donnybrooks on Facebook are business as usual for me.  

Still, it hasn’t been without some collateral damage.  I’ve cut ties with Facebook friends and had ties cut by Facebook friends over politics.  Depending on the political winds and the emotions of the discourse my friend count has gone up and down.  Graphed, the ebb and flow of my friend count would look like the EKG of a man suffering severe atrial fibrillation.  This has been particularly true since Donald Trump walked down that staircase and told the world that Mexico doesn’t “send it’s best.”   

And so here I am, back to the burned out log, Facebook burn out.   It isn’t the politics and it isn’t the silly memes and it isn’t even those “features” that I’ve long found objectionable; making fun of perfect strangers for their perceived imperfections, the doxing, the notion of outing people (“spreading their shame” as it’s often called).

What could possibly be giving me the Facebook blues?  COVID-19.  The coronavirus that keeps on giving – and taking – lives.  It isn’t the virus itself.  The virus has become a given.   I’ve made peace with the notion that COVID-19 is here for the long haul, or as my son put it – forever.   Check that, I’ve made as much peace as can reasonably be made. 

What I can’t make peace with is having ignorance thrown in my face.  Thrown in my Facebook?  When it comes to the coronavirus Facebook has become a junkpile of nonsense.  For 66 years I’ve never even given epidemiologists and virologists a second thought.  Now Facebook and Youtube are lousy with self proclaimed microbiologists who wouldn’t know which end of a microscope to look through if you labeled the eyepiece with a Post-It saying “Lookie here”.   You can’t swing a cat or log onto social media without hitting a self described infectious disease expert.   I get sick as a dog seeing “hoax,” “plandemic,” “China virus,” “kung flu,” and the squealing of tyranny and masking without representation by a sudden glut of constitutional scholars being asked to bear the most minimal inconvenience of putting a piece of cloth over nose and mouth.  

And those are just the people who I don’t even know.  The ones who I do know have decided that since we’re in a pandemic why not make the best of it.   Maybe I’m just thin skinned for being offended by seeing people who I know, putting up photos of their non-socially distant, maskless photos of their vacations to Lake Tahoe (Tahoe being a place that’s made no secret that they want out of towners to stay out of town) or Santa Cruz or anywhere but their own home town.  Maybe I’m just jealous.   Maybe I’m just a “get off my lawn” old grouch for being frustrated over seeing a laissez faire attitude over a pandemic being posted in living (and dying) color.  My daughter says that people are just making their own personal risk assessments.  I’m not buying that.  A personal risk assessment is flying a foil kite in a lighting storm.  Treating a pandemic with nonchalance is a public nuisance.  

And then there’s Facebook itself and Mr. Zuckerberg who wants to have his cake and eat it too.  On the one hand he’s claiming social responsibility and on the other his platform is doing a brisk business peddling bullshit.  Don’t believe me?  Do a Facebook search for pages and groups with names like Mask free Michigan – we are over it, Corona Virus Hoax Resistance, PLANDEMIC, Coronavirus Hoax, and Americans Against the COVID Hoax

Yes Virginia, those are real pages populated by real charlatans who attract and appeal to society’s dim bulbs.  Meanwhile Zuckerberg, hiding behind a tattered veil of the First Amendment is assuring the fed up that his minions are hard at work hunting hooey and giving it the heave-ho.   I can’t vouch for how hard their working.  It took me less than a minute for me to step in the aforementioned poopy pandemic pages and I’m just barely on the technological side of being a Luddite. 

I suppose that I’ll post this on Facebook until the end of the month, see if it generates any discussion or outrage or even outrageous discussion.  At the end of the month I’ll start a long Facebook break and test my resolve again. 

It is truly wondrous the things you discover during a Facebook break.  You find shelves filled with bundles of paper called books, and those people who you’ve briefly noticed walking about the living room are actually family.  You might recognize them from photos in your newsfeed.   If you happen to be in the working world you come to realize how many more uninterrupted job related tasks can get done in eight hours.   A Facebook timeout can be just the bit of fresh air that you need. 

 A week or two and you’re often ready to go back. 

Seriously how long can the human spirit survive without seeing pictures of dogs, kids, vacation trips to Iowa, a medium rare steak or a video of perfect (or imperfect) strangers making fools of themselves at a karaoke bar?   I guess I’ll find out.

15 thoughts on “The Burned Out Log of Facebook

  1. Lol, I love your rant. As for myself, I have made it a rule not to do politics on facebook and overall I tend to use it only for some groups I’m a member of and as a way to chat with some friends that would be difficult in another way. For this reason I ‘keep’ Facebook. Most other reasons you describe: food, (grand)children, pets and the like – I can very well do without. 🙂 I guess it’s a good idea to have a break Paulie. See how much you are going to miss it.

  2. Hello there. You gave me some good laughs with this story. Bundles of paper known as books! People shuffling around the living room who are family members! Enjoy the week. See ya.

    1. Paulie says:

      Glad I could lighten your day. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  3. M.B. Henry says:

    I dumped Facebook almost two months ago. No regrets!

    1. Paulie says:

      I’m probably going to deactivate until after the election and maybe some semblance of COVID control.

  4. Enjoy your Facebook break, I had to laugh about vacation photos from Iowa, since I am from there🤣

    1. Paulie says:

      Funny thing, if COVID hadn’t happened I would’ve posted vacation pictures of Iowa a couple weeks ago. We were supposed to do a baseball stadium driving trip starting in Pittsburgh and ending with Minneapolis and then Kansas City which would have taken us right through the center of Iowa. I really would like to see the heartland.
      Thank you again for stopping by.

      1. Head to Dyersville and catch the Field of Dreams. They updated the field and stands to accommodate the White Sox and Yankees who were supposed to play this summer but got cancelled due to Covid. It’s a fun spot to visit, it really is out in the middle of no where.

  5. mavimet says:

    I can understand your frustration with facebook, but I still enjoy it myself. I have friends from all over the world – some I have met personally after meeting them on FB or other chat boards – and others I only know virtually. I certainly don’t agree with everything that my contacts write about, but have learned to just scroll through those ones after a short look at some of the key words. I won’t get into arguments with anyone on FB, but have deleted and blocked a few who rubbed me the wrong way more than once. Main rule is that I completely ignore any posts on politics and religion.

    1. Paulie says:

      I think I’ve reached the point at which enjoyment has been eclipsed by dissatisfaction. Like you, I’ve made friends from people all over the world through a photo page, a running page and two Gordon Setter pages.
      I don’t touch religion but I do like intelligent and probing political discussion (Intelligent and probing are becoming extinct). Right now the FB commentary on COVID is what is most frustrating and is feeding a sort of helplessness.
      It sounds like you’re maintaining a good, healthy relationship with FB and that’s the key to the enjoyment.
      I doubt that I’ll delete my account but I think a few corners have to be turned (the election and some really bonafide COVID progress) before I go back.

  6. Never been on Facebook. Intend to keep it that way.

    1. Paulie says:

      Your comment should be entered into the pantheon of wise words.

      1. Thank you. Zuckerberg and I should never be left alone in the same room.

        1. Paulie says:

          Zuckerberg is 36 years old and I still seem him as that snot nosed kid. He and Kushner. I guess I’m channeling my inner “get off my lawn” guy.

          1. I’m with you. A friend of mine, years ago, had a bumper sticker that said “I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.“ That’s how I feel about those two.

Would love to hear from you