I work hard and I get everything done in a day that needs to be, but I do spend snippets of time in between checking invoices and posting bills scrolling through facebook. Now don’t give me that scoff. Although it can be a terrifying sociological and psychological experiment, facebook has value too. Mostly in those who ride that invincible hydra to defend good rather than evil. Folks and projects like these:
Tysonism – All things Neil deGrasse Tyson, and stuff Tyson fans might enjoy.
George Takei – Just all manner of fuel for a good mood and an optimistic outlook. LGBT haters especially need to study this one.
I f’kin’ love science – Science, new science, old science, blinding science.
Word Porn – Poems, quotes, words, and all the marvelous and beautiful things you can do with them.
I could go on, but it would take a while and a lot of space. I’ll likely include more eventually because my list of fun stuff to research, think about and write about expands due to my facebook glances. I’m including these links because I want you to follow them if you don’t already. Why? Because there are a million things between them that will make you think, get you curious, and entertain and educate you for hours. Tysonism alone could be published as an anthology of fascinating information that teaches this former educator at least a dozen new things a week.
All the corners of facebook have been riding that mean ole’ hydra for all its** worth lately. My friends list is comprised of people from all walks of life, all religious beliefs, all political bents, and a multitudinous measure of experience. And many of my friends go “share” crazy like I do. Political views, memes sneering barbs concerning some frivolous outcry, some strong belief that blots all others from importance in certain minds, lists of fantastic puns, adorable critters from around the world, cats that can’t spell and dogs that can’t bark, the list goes on. Some are entertaining and funny, informative and hopeful. Others surprise or disturb, and still others confuse and perplex. A lot of them leave me unmoved. I don’t always agree with what I read or see, but these people are still my friends and family. I’m not going to debate with them until neither side makes a lick of sense. Because in the long run, neither side does. What is, is. What we perceive is flawed, skewed, and manipulated. My perception certainly isn’t any more immune than yours. But good luck convincing either of us.
So I take pleasure in simpler things. In life as in facebook. New information, interesting studies, really incredible photos and beautiful videos. That’s my usual fare in between trading witticisms with high school classmates I wish I’d talked to more, watching my beautiful nieces and sweetheart of a nephew grow up at alarming rates in real-time pictures, and having the opportunity to wish somebody a happy birthday every day. It’s much more fun and less stressful to cruise the wall in this manner than getting pissed off and insulting everyone you don’t agree with.
But I’ve fallen victim to the negativity that is required to keep the milli-capitated beast running. And it’s true. The nature of everything is the balance between negative and positive, and facebook is part of everything, so you can’t separate the two poles even if they never come together. It’s so easy to be sucked in when words flow free and unfettered from a keyboard. They’re good and necessary things, these negative facebook experiences. Even in the throes of an enraged diatribe, that “wrong” post may teach you to see something in a different light or from a more empathetic point of view.
That’s the key word, there, y’all. Empathy. I don’t see much of it lately. Even if it’s impossible to fully appreciate the condition of others, surely every human being has enough imagination to consider the comfort and quality of anyone’s shoes. Wouldn’t that dreadfully offensive (oh dear!) opinion you read on your wall seem somewhat fair and understandable considering this person’s background, situation, or experience? You know. Those things you sometimes can’t help. Like how stubborn you are; just like your grandmother.
As is true of every foolish idealist, I’m not anywhere near as perfect as my imagination. So I verbally balk, I verbally protest, and I sometimes share a meme that might offend (oh dear!) any number of my friends or family. But I think we all need to be offended sometimes. A species that doesn’t know how to take a thrashing can’t survive long enough to see who was right. The way things are going we won’t survive, and we won’t quit bickering over bullshit long enough to inspect the evidence and make a decision.
But there are some who are willing to stand up on a chair and say, “Hold up!” I think we ought to quiet down and pay attention to them.
Meanwhile, these are for you:
*My title quote is from a scene in “Becoming Jane,” a movie based loosely on a novel based kind of on Jane Austen’s life. I haven’t read it yet (it’s on the list), but as I understand it’s mostly speculation, but that makes it no less entertaining or relevant. It involves this characterized Jane Austen (played beautifully by Anne Hathaway) and her brazen beau, LeFroy (played brilliantly by James McAvoy) telling LeFroy’s conservative, old fashioned, and extremely dickish Uncle about meeting Ann Radcliffe, a Victorian Gothic novelist who influenced countless greats. This pompous, old-fashioned Tory is amazed that a woman has been allowed to make money off of anything literary and managed to avoid his courtroom (or so I glean). This quote is his reaction to learning about how much money she makes. It’s a voice I hear in nightmares.
**Yes, that is supposed to be possessive. I like the possessive better than the contraction here.