Teaching Facebook a Lesson

Our bookstore attracts free spirits, intellectuals, and weirdos–sometimes all in one person. So of course some bookstore friends and I have enjoyed inventing a new game; it’s what creative, bibliophilic, dangerously over-educated and slightly maladjusted people do.

It started after the latest hoopla about “the big F is ruining our privacy and we are being sold as products to marketers via those little pop-up ads” escalated into “Homeland Security is watching you.”

Yeah. The government’s clear-headed efficiency dealing with every project undertaken to date has me quaking in terror about the laser beam of intellectual resources targeted at ferreting out anarchists like me.

Actually, I’m not an anarchist; I voted Democrat in the last election (in case you were confused on that point). But since I live in the Bible Belt’s buckle, that makes me look like an anarchist to some of the neighbors. I don’t mind. They usually send over fresh-baked muffins or rolls with their religious flyers. And when I leave flyers for the Democratic party on their front porch, I anchor them with a jar of homemade chutney.

It’s easy for the five thousand or so of us living here in Big Stone to remember that politics is politics, family is family, and ain’t nobody out there beyond the mountains who loves us as much as we love each other. The same cannot be said of The Facebook Community. I suppose when you get a billion or so people together, there are bound to be disagreements that become hard to settle. But the idea that someone, somewhere is keeping an eye on who disagrees with whom, about what, and why, is not nearly so plausible as that a whole bunch of someones (or, more to the point, somethings) are keeping tabs on what we talk about and what we “like” so they can sell us more of the same.

So some friends and I have started the game of “therapy posting.” Once a week, we get on our timelines and write statuses (stati?) like “package tour to Uzbekistan, small animal husbandry, 1900s German cookie molds, cute memes of fuzzy kittens, sourcing fertilizer, the collected works of Karl Marx and Charles Schultz, and yoga for parrots.”

Go on, try it; it’s fun! And it confuses the heck out of those little pop-up ads. Mine went from “promote your new book in ten easy steps” and “Petsmart” to “10 household supplies you should hoard” and “Lowe’s.” (I guess the Apocalypse Soon crowd would need a lot of building supplies….)

My friend Rachel posted a mess of stream-of-consciousness random ideas, and her pop-ups went from “a message from the First Lady” to “buy Sarah Palin’s autobiography.” She said she wouldn’t play any more after that.

So maybe search engines and cookies are easier to confuse than real people. Here in Wise County we live side by side, screaming obscenities at each other in the political arena, then sitting down to casseroles. ‘Twas ever thus in small towns, where the mayor could be your mortal sworn enemy, your church organist, and in all likelihood married to someone with whom you play on a ball team. And you’re all gonna meet at the bookstore anyway.

Facebook could learn a lot from us, if they were REALLY listening.


1 Comment

Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

One response to “Teaching Facebook a Lesson

  1. I enjoy reading these every day, Wendy. And, I’m definitely going to take a crack at “therapy posting”. HA!!

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