29 May 2019

A Facebook History

Back when Facebook was quite new, two trendy friends kept pressing my dear friend and longtime companion Louis to join, so he did. Being a nice guy, he gave me his password so I could look, too.

And it was interesting. Then some problems arose. First, quite rapidly Louis had enough Facebook friends that together they uttered way too many posts for him to keep up with, especially since he got around to looking only every few days. Another problem was that people he barely remembered from distant points in his life, with whom he’d never been friends, somehow tracked him down and wanted to Friend him. Alas, if he had any memory whatsoever of the person, he went ahead and Friended them, which increased the deluge. Besides, he finally realized that there were things he wanted to say that he didn’t want all those new “Friends” to see.

So he closed down the account, waited a couple of months, and started it again, this time making sure that all his Friends were friends. It ran along that way for years even though the reduced number of Friends did not solve the problem of Louis’ not looking very frequently and thus missing delightful posts because he has four FB Friends who post very interesting material at least once daily. But hey, he looked at it when he felt like it, and that kept it enjoyable.Well, until a couple of years ago or so when it gradually started sinking in that there was still no such thing as a free lunch, and that the price we were paying for this wondrous utility that let us stay in touch with our friends was giving up little slices of our souls so that Mark (“They trust me, dumb fucks”) Zuckerberg could sell those slices to whomever he wished.

As that sank in, Louis found himself profoundly grateful that when he’d set up his Facebook profile, he’d somehow got his birthday wrong and had made a clever joke about the name of the institution that granted his degrees. So all that Facebook had right was his name and city of residence.

Even so, that was too much, so he warned his friends that they needed to Friend me because he was closing his account down and deleting it, which he did last fall. As for me, y’all who Friended me can still be confident that I look at Facebook every few days and will probably see your posts.

Regarding the fake news that Facebook spreads, I sat down wondering why I was missing out on this American treasure and then noticed that over on the left side of the page Facebook provides something called “News Feed” followed by a bunch of widgets that you can use to tailor what you see on your screen so that nothing you disagree with will ever appear. Of course. Wouldn’t want stuff about that global warming hoax to disturb your day. The alternative is to just ignore all that left side stuff, as I’ve been doing all along.

Regarding security, I haven’t cut as wide a swath as Louis did, so there’s not all that much data on me out there and nothing in my FB profile that would help anyone track me down. It’s a good feeling.

Meanwhile, for years I’ve been attending concerts put on by Noe Valley Chamber Music at the Noe Valley Ministry, a handsome little Presbyterian church on Sanchez Street, where I’ve kept admiring a stylized cross floating in the corner of the sanctuary, a cross so handsome that it appeals to even the heathen. Went up to examine it at the last concert and discovered that it’s by Ruth Asawa. No wonder it’s beautiful.

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