R U Drunk on Facebook…Again?

The headline screams loud, “Social Media Domination!”   

Oh come now! Are Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and such the “aha” lights of your life? And maybe your business too? Are you drunk on Facebook?

Again?

Yes, the hype sounds good on paper, er uh, I mean, electronic media. After all, I can strategically locate, contact and then woo people I barely know or have never met. And it’s all on the Internet, so it’s not like watching them window-to-window with a telescope.

Is it?

Hmmm……

Certain friends of mine envision a pseudo horror society, where all privacy is stripped and our souls laid naked for the world to do with what it will.  But…what about the articles that quote otherwise?

“Such a simple, safe and effective way to network.”

What I see is, “Never leave the basement. Stay in touch while you lounge in your worn skivvies, sip Red Bull and munch on Cheetos.”

Is it creepy like that yet? Let’s examine…

Not so long ago, it was difficult for many introverted folks to start a conversation. Awkward social skills, rural homes and simple laziness also introduced a certain degree of separation amongst human animals.

Then one day, along comes this abundance of online bounty, called INFORMATION You  Google up a clever line or two and then jump right in—the social walls have tumbled! Let me give you an example…

Anne Rice, the author, is one of my Facebook friends. I have never met her, but nonetheless, she is someone I admire, therefore it made sense to take the opportunity to gain exposure to her “personal” side.

Two days after she accepted my friend request, I commented on a post she had written. My prose was drooly, complimentary and yes, long and drawn out. “This’ll get her attention,” I confidently thought.

Well, imagine my delight, when nine days later I receive an alert from Facebook. “Anne Rice commented on your wall post!”

OMG, I thought. My idol has recognized me.

Had to take a moment to calm myself, till I was ready to open the app and reveal the sacred words of my big time celebrity friend.

Shaky fingers typed that familiar user name, “Getalife,” followed by the password, “Seriously.” I gazed expectantly, and clicked through to the post and there it was…emblazoned in lower case font: “thanks”

“She likes me, she really, really likes me!” I shouted.

“Probably just her assistant,” said one downer friend of mine.

“No! She said in her profile that she doesn’t use an assistant for Facebook. It was her! In fact, I’ll bet she read my post over and over. Probably saved it and shared with her really important author friends. We connected!”

“Uh…right dude.”

Alright, back to center. It is my experience that a good solid human connection should be made face to face. Shake hands, hug, kiss, make eye contact, talk, listen, laugh, cry—all that old fashion stuff from back in the day.

Second best is a phone call. Whether landline or cell, it’s all good. Same as above, sans handshake, hug, kiss and eye contact. Still a live engagement.

I’ll bypass texts, note cards and smoke signals to move right in to Facebook. So much has been said about its virtues, as well as the dark side.

Lots of validity for both.

The way I see it—just as it was somewhat “unfashionable” to shop at Wal-Mart a few years ago; so many folks (Maybe you?) say, “I never go on Facebook.”

Um hmmm. Like the Yogi Berra quote, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Let’s put it out there. Just about anyone who owns a computer and has Internet connection is exposed to Facebook and has likely made a choice to join, or not to join. A recent Statista report stated 77% of all Americans participate in social networking—much of that through Facebook. Another recent poll states that 95% of Americans bought something at Walmart last year.

There’s an old joke, told way too often by stand-up comics… “A recent survey showed that 80% of people masturbate…and the other 20% are liars.”

See the point?

So, what does Facebook do…really.

Some say it’s to “Keep in touch with friends and family.” Sounds reasonable enough.

I say though, it helps to avoid that overdue phone call or drop-by, and instead provides pseudo maintenance to a lazy personal or business relationship.

Of course; on a phone call, you can blabber away and it’s mostly all forgotten by hang-up time. True, but—you connect. With Facebook, on the other hand, you write a few clever sentences, then change your mind and word it all differently—again and again; till finally you have arrived at just the right blurb. Thank God for the backspace key, eh?

Your “timeline friends” will read your post and then sometimes reply in kind. And don’t forget—those same words will stay on your respective walls till the end of time.

Others may troll Facebook, simply for the fun of it. That’s great—if you consider stalking a hobby.

Where else can you peek at intimate testimonials or “accidentally” discover who “friended” whom. Many a domestic battle has been waged on the hallowed grounds of this site.

Still others may say their reasons are to “express my views.” I suppose that makes some sense. I wonder though, if you choose this venue because no one really cares about those views in the flesh and blood world. Write an awkward quote penned by you—or worse, steal something from a buzzword poet and call it your “inspiration.”

I’ll say it, “No one cares!”

OK, I’ve ranted my piece. Made light of Facebook and certainly myself. I too, participate in the hubbub, and despite the negatives, find it a refreshing and simple means to shrink our world to a smaller neighborhood.

So—next time I write a thought or muse on my timeline, you have every right to pummel it with thoughts of how you really feel or you can be extra nice and say it is cute and clever. Just don’t ignore me. Several hundred friends who don’t pay attention to something I took so much thought to say….

One Night in Paradise

Flames, smoke and mass destruction don’t hold a candle to the life that passed by here…

There is only a sliver of moon this Friday night. Though stars twinkle wildly overhead, it’s quite dark. The rhythm of chirping crickets competes with an occasional owl and the lonely bark of a far off dog. Just now a plane has flown past and I wonder where it’s headed. I sit alone on the back deck–and gaze at the brightest, warmest sunshine I’ve ever laid eyes on.

What? Sunshine on a dark night?

Skip back to Father’s Day and the big secret my kids tried to keep from me. I’m a single dad and my deck and yard are, let’s say–a little plain and bare. 12-year-old Mikala has lamented more than once about the lack of luster in my outdoor space. Always, I respond with, “I’ll get to it soon Hon.” …not yet have I done so.

All week before the big day, a shroud of secrecy fills the house. Mikala calls her mother from closed doors–whispering pleas to borrow money and work it off in chores. 11-year-old Nick was the decoy–kept me busy with video games, checkers and tossing the football around.

The Saturday before Father’s Day, I was scheduled out of town, so the kids stayed with Mom. Of course Mikala has a key, so she can come and go anytime she pleases, so long as Mom drives her.

I arrive home at 9:00 Saturday night and there are specific instructions handwritten on a piece of lined notebook paper, taped to the front door. It says, “Do not go out back till you call us and we come over.”

“Hmmm…” I wonder. “What are they up to?”

Not one to be the spoiler, I call Mikala and ask what is up. “We’re coming over right now,” she says. “Don’t go outside, okay Dad?”

“All right Sis,” I reply.

Yes, I am curious now.

20 minutes later, I hear the car pull up and they pile out–each with an overnight bag. Though it was not my scheduled weekend, I planned to spend Sunday with them, so didn’t think much of it. Mom waved goodbye and drove off.

“Cover your eyes Dad,” Nick and Mikala said at the same time, as they rushed through the front door.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Just cover your eyes and come outside with us,” said Mikala.

I let them take my arms as I was blindly led toward the back slider door.

“Keep your eyes closed Dad.”

They let go of my arms amidst the sound of opening drapes –much rougher than I’m comfortable with, but what could I do? Next the latch clicked and the slider made it’s familiar sound, while gliding open on its track. Each of them grabbed a hand and I was led outside to the crisp night air.

“You can open your eyes now Dad!”

Wow! In its own way, I found the sight akin to “Wizard of Oz,” when Dorothy walked outside her fallen Kansas house and the world turned from black and white to color. I was in parental awe.

Above me hung a neat row of large green, red and yellow paper lanterns, while strung over the railing were more of the same in miniature, which also contained tiny bright lights for illumination. The end of the rope led to a bright orange outdoor extension cord, which in this context, seemed absolutely perfect and charming. Hanging from the branches of the fir tree closest to the deck was a hummingbird feeder and also a seed block. Strung to some of the other branches hung a dressing of red, blue and green banners. Three small battery-operated stand-up lanterns sat along the top of my old wood deck. In the midst of it all was a handmade birdhouse that Nick and I had built several years ago on a rainy day. Last time I recall, it was at the bottom of a stack of old and unused toys.

One item stood out though. Attached to the side of the railing, with a single bent nail, was a red, gold and white, smiling metal sunshine. I recognized it from the clearance rack at the hardware store. Both Nick and Mikala had eyeballed it previously and I told them at the time we didn’t need more junk at the house. And now, here it was, hammered up with all the love and pride of their young spirits.

I glanced at the two of them as they gauged my reaction. After a few moments spent examining and complimenting in sighs and wows, I finally spoke.

“I love it. But I can’t believe you did this for me. My back porch looks so cool. I want everyone in the world to see.”

Never had I seen such full and bright smiles. “Do you really like it Daddy?” asked Mikala. “You have such a boring back yard and we wanted to fix it up.”

“Of course, I love it sweetie,” I replied. “I’m just so amazed you did this for me.”

Nick spoke; “We want you to think of us when we’re not here.”

“That’s why we picked the sun,” piped in Mikala. “You used to sing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ when we were little and now it will always be there, even when it rains.”

Generally I’m a tough guy when it comes to sentimental stuff, but that hit me between the eyes. “Come here guys,” I said. “Give your old man a big hug.”

With that my 11 and 12-year-old kids came to me and buried themselves in my outstretched embrace. I didn’t want to let go, and did not, till I was able to get my “tough Dad demeanor” back.

I know my youngest are getting to the edge of that ultimate break away, so these moments are rare and quite special. The older they get, the more I appreciate and savor the glimpses of innocence. I don’t know if they will remember the times and surely realize the emotion is within me, but perhaps one day, when their own kids work so hard to make a special place for them, it will come back and flood their hearts with a wave of this same bright sunshine.

I am a lucky man indeed.

Originally posted in 2009… and dedicated to Byron and beautiful Merrie Lynn –for whom the sun always shines…

Don’t Wait

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Left–right–center, sideways or upside down. Doesn’t matter. The only wrong vote is the one you don’t cast…

Back To It

IMG_2047I’ve had this damn blog since 2009 or so. Posted a couple hundred stories–some were ok, some terrible and lazy and some were fucking awesome.

So last week I decided to strip the site and pull everything down. Not cause I’m embarrassed about the shitty posts, not to reinvent myself, not from ADHD tendencies (well maybe a little), but before I croak one day,  I’d like to have credible representation of my work.

Gonna repost some of the good, bad and ugly and also post a lot of new and original material. My dream state slurs that it may cause me to publish that book, while my sloth side says it’s too hard or too late. We’ll see…

The theme will always head toward the truth–and food (you’ll understand), dirt, smudges and raw expression that needs to go to your “to read now” stack.

Follow me–interact–tell me you love my beautiful writing or blast publicly how much my trashy prose sucks. I don’t give a fuck what you say–just wanna hear from you one way or the other.

Look for my first post–if you are on my Facebook, I’ll remind you!