Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Inescapable Prison; Facebook

I love being out and about.

(You have no idea how tempted I am to just leave it at that, walk away and keep you guys guessing.)

Anyhow, it's a great activity for someone like me, someone who thoroughly enjoys people watching. I would most likely enjoy that activity even if I didn't fancy myself as a writer. I think people are fascinating. (Well, not all people. I mean, some are complete dullards. Not you, of course.)

But people-watching, by itself, really only incorporates one of my sensory abilities. I am a man of many -- and let's consider five to be "many" -- senses. (Impressed and intrigued, aren't you?)

Now, people-tasting, I've discovered, is not socially acceptable. (Or legal.) Someone probably should have told me a while ago that you can't just start licking people at the store. Would have been super helpful to know…

Uh, same goes for people-touching. Some of it is illegal; some is just awkward (random high-fives, as an example). (What? I thought the cashier did an exceptional job of ringing up my groceries. I felt that was a suitable occasion for a high-five.)

Smelling people is okay -- as long as you aren't sniffing too closely or obviously -- but it's generally better when you can't smell people, unless they are wearing cologne or perfume in a subtle (read as "not gag-inducing") amount. So no issues there, I suppose.

That leaves one last sense for me to talk about... the ability to detect and interpret sound. (I'm totally going to put that on my resume. "So it says here that you can "detect and interpret sound?" "Yep, that's right. So when do I start?") (Note: That's a little funnier if you picture me as Norm MacDonald imitating Burt Reynolds from the classic Saturday Night Live "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches, especially wearing a giant-sized cowboy hat.)

Editor's note: His note contained a little too many pop culture references in the same sentence. We'll try giving him a shorter leash.

Writer's note to Editor: Shorter leash? Ha! Never!

Actual note to Readers: I apologize for not including a link to the Celebrity Jeopardy sketch. I searched NBC's website, but they don't have one available. Nothing on YouTube, either. (That seems to be the case with most SNL material.) Now, as a thought, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, it's terribly inconvenient. On the other, our society feels as though we should be entitled to watch/read/listen to anything at no cost. We want it... we want it now... and we want it for free. (That is our new motto, I believe.) So I respect NBC's right to control its own property and fight against that increasingly prevailing attitude. Sure, having a link to that clip might make my little blog better, but the whole "free content" concept screws over a lot of artists. I don’t think that is right. At least, that's my take on it.

Where was I? Oh, that's right... hearing people in public.

The other day, while having a prescription filled, I was fortunate enough to hear two old ladies talking about Facebook. Quite frankly, if you haven't heard a conversation between two senior citizens talking about Facebook, well, then you simply have not lived.

I wasn't around for the start of the conversation, but was still able to quickly ascertain that the one had a male relative or friend or booty call (just making sure you’re reading!) who was involved with "the Facebooks." She was talking about the pictures on there (he apparently showed her how someone had put up unattractive-looking ones), the amount of time people waste doing it and the fact that "once you're in, it's impossible to escape." (Just like prison.) (How fantastic would it have been if she included that?)

Now, this poor old lady believes there is no possible way to leave Facebook. Well, actually you can, but they try to guilt you out of it. ("These people will miss you if you go!" Um, if they don't have any other means of contacting me, then how close were we in the first place?)

I know this to be true because I've looked into it. One of these days, I'm going to get around to cancelling my Facebook account.

I am not a fan of that particular service and only signed up in the first place over some misguided notion that I could use it to help foster a new freelance writing career for myself.

(Yeah, it hasn't been helpful for that purpose in the least. I'm convinced that my friends and family either hate me, or cannot see my messages. Whichever, Facebook is proving to be an epic fail.)

Anyway, I intelligently inferred that the old lady is an avid Ducks reader.

Note to old lady: Yes, Virginia, there is a way to leave Facebook. (I didn't catch your name in the conversation, but you kind of looked like a "Virginia.") And your friend/relative won't have to attempt any Prison Break-style escape, either. He just needs to prepare himself for Facebook's impassioned plea to stay. Tell him to stay strong. Tell him it is, in fact, possible to leave Facebook. And tell him to spend his newfound free time here at the Ducks! Thank you.

(Well, I'm considering that my good deed for the day. I should probably get a merit badge or lots and lots of cash for that.) (Hopefully not the merit badge.)


  1. I'm not on Facebook, and your post seems to imply I'm not missing much. In the beginning, I thought it's only for family and close friends ,but then I learned that anyone could become your friend. It looks like a big distraction.

  2. Facebook certainly can be a distraction, especially if your just trying to sit down at the computer to WRITE!

    Your post made me laugh. Enjoyed the blog.

  3. Ha! Your people watching, tasting, smelling thing reminded me of a Demetri Martin bit about how you can say something in a normal voice and it's acceptable, but in a whisper, it's creepy. IE - "I like kids." Try it.

    Yep. I'm still up in the air about FB. Got on for my daughter (has a rare condition) and all these people from high school that I don't give a crap about starting asking to be my friend. I wasn't your friend then, chances are we have even less in common now. Leave me alone.

  4. "Facebooks." LOL, I love it! "Once you're in you can't leave." Omigosh old people are the BEST! I finally succombed this month. Also succombed to twitter. Not to help sell my books, but because I'm involved with a project to help writers sell books and I need to connect with as many writers as possible as quickly as possible. So it's working for networking but where do people get the idea that you can "build your business" or whatever on twitter and fb? I don't get that "let's all make tons of money" part of it. Do it if it's fun or useful, otherwise don't bother with facebooks. Or twitters.

  5. add me to facebook :)mwahahahahaha...

  6. Facebook is evil and so insidious. Somehow they have me addicted; I've no idea how.

    (includes oversized Cowboy hat!)

  8. DUTA - As much as I dislike Facebook, it has enabled me to get back in touch with some old friends. I suppose that it -- like anything in life -- has both positive and negatives sides.

    Miss Pickwickian - Thank you! I hope you come back. Admittedly, some of my posts are better than others (and otters... much better than otters). And I totally agree, it can be a massive distraction that us writers definitely do not need!

    Jolene - My wife and I are HUGE Dimitri Martin fans. I read her your post from the other day in his style and she thought it was great. :)

    Karen - When I signed up for Facebook, I thought it would be a good neworking tool. I suppose I didn't know any better at the time. Now, it was never my intent to try and "become rich" via FB, but I thought it might be useful to let my little freelance writing business get some legs under it. I do agree that no one should necessarily sign up with the hopes of becoming wealthy.

  9. Tara - Justin Bieber has a better chance of being added!

    Talli - Don't worry, because you aren't alone in your addiction. (Unless you define "alone" as "being one of 500 million," in which case I'm not going to judge... but be careful when you use that word. People will think you are weird.)

    SG - Thanks, man! I thought about Hulu, but thought they only do full episodes of shows. (Obviously, I haven't used Hulu yet. It's kind of like I'm still in the stone age. Quite sad, really.)

  10. Awkward High Fives! I had this teenager in the store who had lost his wallet, but someone had turned it in, so I went to get it for him. When I gave it back to him he gave me a high five. It was supremely awkward. :)

    (I am catching up on my backlog of blog reading, so comment is late, late, late :)


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