I Have a Great Attention…Look, a Puppy!

Facebook, in its ever evolving need to placate everyone, has implemented a service to help busy Facebook users better manage their time.  You may have noticed that under each article or video, Facebook has added a handy dandy estimate of how much time it will take their oh-so-busy users to read an article.

I won’t even touch on the fact that many Facebook users don’t (or can’t) read an informative article to begin with.

I will even ignore the fact that I can read a 300-word piece in well under 5 minutes, Mr.  Mark Zuckerberg.

Let’s cut right to the chase, shall we?  If you are on Facebook for the twentieth fiftieth gazillionth time today, explain to me exactly what tight, rigorous schedule you are on that prevents you from choosing to read a five-minute article?

“Wow, teens exploring a wooded area next to the local mall downtown discovered a live wooly mammoth family today in New Hampshire! Oh wait, it’s a 5-minute read!? Who the hell has time for that??”  *Keeps scrolling* … “Coke adds the name Adonis to its line of labeled bottles and cans … 2-minute read. All right! Now, that’s the kind of timeframe I can get behind! Let me at this one!”

If it takes you more than five minutes to read the article, can you sue for lost time and damages?  Does that five-minute read include pictures and captions?  Really, Facebook, I have so many questions!

I suppose you could time your Farmville crops to article lengths and give yourself something to do while the crops ripen.  “This one will take exactly one corn harvest.”    “Oh, man, I’ll never get to harvest those yams in time if I read this one, forget it.  Who cares about the newly discovered pyramid on Mars, anyway?  Those crops are waiting!”

Now, what happens if I choose to invest my time in, say, a five-minute article and it only takes me three minutes to read?  I have two extra unplanned minutes in my day.  I could:

  • Post a vague, slightly disturbing update in the hopes it will gain attention from my friends.
  • Read someone’s political beliefs and become angry … not by the post, but by all the comments under it (although I may not have time to post a reply to any of the more egregious statements).
  • Share eight lost dog posts or three Minions memes.
  • Place four posts that I will never look at again in my “saved” folder.
  • Like three posts by accident when swiping up. These will include a friend’s dad’s funeral, someone who broke both legs falling down a flight of steps, and someone’s cat being run over by a bus.
  • Type out a well thought out rebuttal to someone’s post, then spend the next two and a half minutes trying to figure out how to delete it while frantically realizing that I am now over my allotted time limit.
  • Accidentally click on an ad for hemorrhoid cream and watch my page fill with ads for hemorrhoid creams.
  • Try to understand why a video about cake icing has been “covered because it may contain gore.” Uncover it.  Watch in amazement as someone falls into a vat of frosting and is iced.
  • Wish happy birthday to three “friends” I have never met in my life.
  • Search for a two-minute article. Find it, then realize it has taken me two minutes to find so I don’t actually have time to read it.

Years from now we’ll be telling our grandchildren, “In my day, we had phones that plugged into the wall, TV sets without remotes, and we never knew how long it would take to read an article on Facebook!”

So, my followers and friends…what will YOU do with all of your extra time?

Big Brother is watching … No, really, he is

I’ve read the memes and I’ve heard the jokes about “big brother” and how he is ever vigilant in watching what everyone does. However, I’ve never really experienced it until this week. Oh, sure, I’ve been known to look at “must haves” on Amazon or Etsy and then suddenly, up pops an ad for the very same thing on my Facebook feed. I think everyone who spends any amount of time online has faced that disturbing scenario.  But … to ramp up the surreal nature of targeted ads, not to mention creep factor, “big brother” upped the ante this week.

My daughter and I were talking … TALKING … about mochi ice-cream (a yummy Japanese ice cream confection made with a traditional mochi outer-layer) in the grocery store as we stood in front of the refrigerated section staring at said product. I’ll admit, we discussed the topic at length, comparing flavors, deciding which was our favorite from past forays into the mochi dessert menus at various Japanese steakhouses, and waffling back and forth as to whether we should buy some now. Not being telepathic, our conversations were verbal. I know that may seem like an odd distinction to make, but it’s important for me that you know that, because I’m convinced it plays into what happened next.

Our phones were off as they dwelled deep within our pockets … there wasn’t a computer to be seen … I didn’t catch sight of a grocery clerk with a clipboard taking notes or a men-in-black representative lurking about, yet the next day, what pops up on my Facebook feed? You guessed it. An ad for mochi ice-cream. And not just ANY mochi ice cream – but the very same brand and two flavors we were looking at in the grocery store.

You tell me. WTF?

 

Into the Fray

I belong to several different online groups, especially on Facebook. They’re mostly book clubs, classic movie fan sites, and vintage photo connoisseurs. I’ve noticed that, especially in one of the vintage photography groups, people are becoming unnecessarily mean and argumentative. In this group, anyone can post pictures of anything vintage, whether it’s their family, celebrities, locations, etc. Someone posted a photo of Doc Holliday and “Big Nose Kate,” his girlfriend/wife, and there were people – you’d think it would be just men, but women as well – who jumped in to immediately say how much Kate looked like a man in a dress (she didn’t) and of course the comments spiraled out of control from there. Good grief! This Hungarian-born, frontier woman has been dead for 77 years. Let it rest.

In the same group, a controversial photo of Billy the Kid was displayed. It’s been authenticated, but some historians still have their doubts, which I won’t get into here. Still, it was as if some of the group’s members had been personally attacked or offended or perhaps had some vested interest in the origins of this photo for all the rage and insulting comments they were throwing out…directed at the photo, the original poster, as well as to those who mentioned, correctly I might add, that the photo had indeed been authenticated and even insured, controversy within the industry notwithstanding.  Nothing is as irksome as self-appointed vintage photo police.

Photos will be posted of family members and people will scream “Photoshop!” even though the photo is obviously old and photoshopping didn’t exist then. While it’s possible the photo was manipulated in the dark room all those 100’s of years ago, who the hell cares?  In any case, it’s the person’s family, so they would probably know if it was accurate or not. People will post old Victorian spirit pictures (which are well-known to be faked) and the commenters jump on those too – screaming, “fake, fake, fake!” As if no-one else had any idea and they are exposing some modern-day fraud. These Visual Vigilantes attack the original poster and anyone else who voices a positive opinion of simply liking the photo or thinking that it’s “cool,” or complimenting the dark-room work, regardless of whether it’s real or not.

Now I know the Internet, and Facebook in particular, is a breeding ground for arguments, but it has become increasingly apparent to me that people will indeed argue about anything and everything. However, it’s amazing to me that in a group that is supposed to be all about simple, innocuous, and light-hearted fun, there are those who cannot contain themselves. It’s as if they MUST be hateful, mean, and argumentative – as if they’ll implode otherwise, by containing all of that vile vitriol…like pressure-cookers left unattended. Or would they explode? Either way, it would be a big mess.

What is wrong with people that they can’t seem to find enjoyment in anything?  Perhaps arguing and being hateful are their forms of enjoyment? If so, our society is going to hell a lot faster than I originally anticipated.

 

 

Who let the dogs out?

I’m sure you all have counted yourselves quite blessed here of late that I haven’t been in so much of a rant-y mood. This lackadaisical attitude was due to a recent attempt of mine to avoid the specific issues that bother me so as not to require the overabundance of Bailey’s Irish Cream it so often takes to get over the stress brought about by these unpleasant topics.

But now I need to return to this outlet for some of my more soap-box inspired ramblings, so the rant-free streak ends today as I grace you all with the following!  Lucky you!  Plus, I like Bailey’s.

Many years ago there was a sitcom called Frasier, starring Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce. It’s still quite popular today in reruns (I watch it myself on the Hallmark Channel late at night), which is why I’m sure that many of you will have seen an episode in which Frasier is supposed to sing a difficult opera aria for a PBS telethon.

He changes his mind at the last-minute, because as he claims “it may be an unwise man who doesn’t learn from his own mistakes, but it’s an absolute idiot that doesn’t learn from other peoples’!”

With that as a preamble, let me tell this little story. (Ha! You thought I’d changed my mind, didn’t you!?)

There is a person I know (however well you can know someone you only “follow” on Facebook).  They live on a large-ish property on a main road that seems to get a lot of traffic. They have horses and to keep the horses safe, they keep them behind fences. Smart move, right? Yeah, I agree. However, the main part of the property isn’t fenced as it’s apparently inconvenient for moving the horses around and general day-to-day life.

Now, these folks keep getting dogs – both to keep and presumably foster.

In fact, not a month goes by that this person doesn’t post an announcement on Facebook about the sad fate of the dogs they keep getting.

They lost two last April.

A Corgi was run over by a semi – but, according to the post, it was the dog’s fault for chasing the truck. Semi vs Corgi…you can imagine how that ended up.

A Pomeranian mix was run over by a school bus – but that was the dog’s fault for not getting out of the way.  I guess the little bugger just couldn’t out-maneuver a bus. I mean, really…what was he thinking?

The month of May saw another victim of the road and a tragic blurb was duly posted on Facebook.

That time it was a Border-Collie mix that was run over by a car. I’m sure that was also the dog’s fault – although they didn’t post any details except to simply say that yet another one of their dogs bit the dust.

Another poor soul was lost in June. This time they didn’t even bother to mention the breed of the dog. All the post said was they thought it had been hit by a car (imagine that!) because its body had been found in a ditch on the side of the road.

The end of July saw yet another tragedy when a Cocker-mix lost a fight with a pick-up truck. I guess this family just attracts dogs that like to battle fast-moving vehicles. The Don Quixotes of the canine world I suppose.

I read with sadness that they “lost” another dog in August. It was a Pekingese. They didn’t even realize it was missing at first. When they finally noticed, they went to look for it and found it dead on the side of road, likely another victim of the ongoing traffic that flows right outside their unprotected property line.

September was blessed in that all survived or at least, there was nothing posted one way or the other. However, October saw a similar canine eulogy but details on breed and specific demise were less forthcoming.

So, they keep “losing” all these dogs. Although, it’s not really “losing” them is it? They know damn well where they’re going. It’s not like they’re “lost” in the true sense of the word.

Anyone who has ever seen The Importance of Being Earnest is familiar with Lady Bracknell’s sarcastic witticism, “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose both looks like carelessness.”

I’d have to say that to lose one dog to a vehicle can be regarded as a misfortune…to lose any more than that seems to me to be more deliberately negligent than careless.

I mean, we’ve all heard the classic definition of insanity, right – to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result? I mean, what is wrong with these people?  Did they not think after the first dog that perhaps a fenced-in-area might be nice?  What about after the third or fourth?

Well, according to one of their most recent comments, they’ve “thought for a while” about an electric, underground fence but they’re expensive, and other conventional types of fencing, such as chain link, are simply too inconvenient for their lifestyle.

So now I’m wondering how many were “lost” prior to me following their Facebook page? These are just the ones that I saw described during my short duration as a “follower” (I ended the twisted voyeurism in early November…but maybe I need to check back in to catch up).  Perhaps this is an ongoing thing with no sign of stopping. Or maybe they just had a run of some seriously horrific luck. Only time will tell.

And what about the shelter people?  Or whoever it is that’s giving them these dogs. Do they not wonder what’s going on that dogs keep disappearing at such an alarming rate and more are being requested?  If you ask what happened to the previous dog (or two or three or four) and you learn that it was hit by a car or a truck or a bus, wouldn’t “you need to have a fence installed” be a no-brainer prerequisite to adopting or fostering another dog?

It’s horrible to lose a pet, it truly is, and my heart goes out to anyone who has the tragic misfortune to lose a four-legged member of their family.  But when you take in a dog or cat or any animal, you hold that life in your hands and you need to take responsibility for it. And if you know that the highway next to your house is a serious danger zone, you put up a protective barrier or take other precautions to keep your pets (or fosters) safe.  You don’t just tick off your losses on Facebook and leave it at that.

Friendly Advice à la Facebook

So, to start out my New Year, Facebook, quite unsubtly I might add, broached the idea that perhaps I need to get out more, mingle more, or at the very least reach out and touch random strangers online. As I scrolled my News Feed, I came to the end – personally I didn’t realize there was an end to one’s News Feed – when lo and behold, an annoying helpful hint for bettering my life appeared.

“Add Friends to See More Stories.“  Now, apparently not content with just briefly assessing the situation and providing guidance, Facebook was determined to really drive the message home, so immediately following this statement, as in the very next sentence, was:  “You’ll have more stories in your News Feed if you add more friends.”

Now I have about 300 friends on Facebook – some of those people are in the animal advocacy world like myself and some are in-the-flesh people I actually know or better yet, I’m related to.  I think that’s plenty, thank you very much. Who the hell wants 1,000 friends they don’t know? Why on earth would I want to fill my friends’ list with people I don’t know or friends of friends of friends of that barista’s cousin (who made some damn fine coffee, but still…) who have no clue who I am or vice versa? Just so I can read more stories about Joe Blow’s wedding announcement fiasco, find out whose toddler just learned to open doors, or get pissed off at yet another stupid opinion on God knows what?  No thanks.

Besides, Facebook doesn’t know…maybe I just have boring friends who have no stories to share. Did you ever think of that Facebook??

Socially Unacceptable Social Media

If I look at one more picture of a dinner plate on my Facebook pages, my next status update will be from jail for assault.

Social media is simply out of control.  I wish it was as mundane as posting dinner pictures, but people are getting a little too comfortable sharing their most personal, intimate thoughts on their Facebook pages. These pictures of their innocent children on the first day of school, their vacation plans, or their real feelings about neighbors, religion or politics seem harmless on the surface, but consider this.

The average Facebook user has 338 friends. Okay, don’t ask me how I figured that out. It’s a terribly complex and difficult formula that I came up with all on my own. Out of those friends, only a handful are people these users actually know; family, coworkers, and real life friends account for an astonishingly small percentage of those 338 people.  That leaves an alarming number of people they really do not know on a personal level that subscribe to their page.  Friends of friends, people who pop up because of a shared interest or mutually “liked” page or TV show, and downright strangers make up the rest of the 338 people.

Many studies have been conducted regarding the various Facebook or Twitter users who feel it is necessary to inform everyone of every action they take throughout the day.  “Going to the bathroom, brb.”  “Taking out the trash.”  “Just woke up.”  “Going to the gym. Again.” And the selfies…good God, the selfies.  These are people who try to validate themselves through social media.  No one gives a damn about your carefully orchestrated duck face as you post that must-see picture of you holding your teacup poodle…all carefully filtered of course.

Yet, the people who make these posts really do think people care.  As if people are waiting with bated breath to see what they might post next. They randomly friend people who comment on someone else’s posts, and just as routinely unfriend people who don’t like that adorable selfie they took by the beach.  To be unfriended by someone is apparently devastating to the extreme, and they will take to their media of choice to cry about being unfriended.  In fact, in one astonishing case, being unfriended was a reason to commit murder. I mean, WTF?

Want to bet they duck faced for the mug shot?

This is all pretty frightening, but it hardly even scratches the surface of the social media lunacy.

People, mostly females for some reason, become so obsessed with actors that they post their reaction to every move the guy might make.  I’m not entirely sure what they hope to accomplish with this; perhaps it gives them a cachet and makes them feel important. Maybe they think this ultra-rich, ultra-handsome, ultra-everything will notice their post or tweet or whatever and simply appear from his island getaway to sweep her off her feet.

This was brought home to me a couple of days ago when I was watching an excerpt of a British talk show featuring host Graham Norton reading Facebook posts from women talking about their lust for actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Kahn in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock, Doctor Strange.) Poor Cumberbatch’s acting skills were really put to the test as he sat there and pretended that he was amused and not revolted or uncomfortable at all to hear someone say, “Just bury me in a Y-shaped coffin,” or “I can get pregnant just looking at him.” “I look at him and my ovaries explode.” Those were the “decent” ones. I could go on, but my mother reads this blog, and I try to save the ensuing lectures over my…ahem…colorful language…for rants I’m truly passionate about.

Oh, and just so you know, we have recently found out what makes women pregnant, and let me be the first to reassure frightened women everywhere that eyeing up Sherlock’s junk does not in fact contribute to pregnancy. Whew!  I know, right?  That was a close one. And by the way, get a grip. It’s one thing to have your private fantasies about an actor whom you like – there’s nothing new in that. We all do it. But to look at him solely as a sex object? Yeah, I suppose you could say it’s tit for tat as men have been looking at and objectifying women’s bodies since forever; long before the advent of social media. But still. Do two wrongs ever make a right? And to blast it out lewdly for all the world to hear see? That’s a little much if you ask me.

What’s the common phrase men write on message boards? “I’d do her,” referring to some actress whom they might not like in a role, but who looks so good that they’d “do” her anyway. I hate to burst that bubble, boys, but chances are the actress in question would never give any one of you the time of day. They’re on a whole other level from “normal” people. I’m also willing to bet my next Facebook picture of a baked potato that if 90% of the guys who say “I’d do her” on these message boards ever actually met the actress in question, they wouldn’t be able to muster up the nerve to say word-one to her…at least not coherently.

So, although I was somewhat revolted by this…psycho-gushing is the nicest term I can call it… it got me thinking about people who post things on social media of this nature. Do they expect the actors they’re talking about to read these posts? Do they secretly hope they will? Do they think the actor in question will actually want to meet them after reading this stuff? “Oh my goodness, did you read that!?  I just have to meet that revolting amazing person ASAP!”

These actors are real people, for goodness sake. They’re not just characters on a screen or a photo op in a magazine. They. Are. Real. People.  It is actually possible for them to read these Facebook and Twitter posts and what’s equally disturbing, so can their families.  These real people have wives, children, mothers, and fathers. People on the actor’s staff have to read this garbage, too; someone from Graham Norton’s staff obviously monitors the web very closely to find anything written about the actors he’s about to interview, for one.

Now as regular readers of my blog know, I’m a serious Marvel movie and TV fan. I like to think that if I ever met any of the actors who star in these creations (I’m looking at you Loki Tom Hiddleston), I’d act like a mature individual, say, “Hi, I enjoy your work,” and let them get on with their lives without 1.) thinking that they’d be so taken with me (one fan out of a thousand to greet them on any given day) that they’d even remember me 5 minutes later, or 2.) be that lewd, babbling stalker they do remember and recount as a “you’ve got to hear this one!” story on Graham Norton. That is if I’d be able to talk at all instead of just stare. But “Here, sign my boob!” I would never utter. At least not sober. It’s enough that I can enjoy their characters on the big screen, and know in real life they are totally different with lives of their own.

Long story short, Facebook posters and social media users everywhere, get a freakin’ grip.  Now, excuse me while I go post this incredible picture I just took of my lunch.

Anger Management

Do you ever just need a few moments to step back from a frustrating or angering situation to regain the composure and serenity you so desperately want – nay, need – to hold onto? I count to ten sometimes. Hell, sometimes I count until it sounds like I’m playing some kind of hyped-up extreme version of hide-n-seek…”50,000 mississippi, 50,001 mississippi…”

No, it’s not my work that’s doing it to me this time. The constant shaking of my head and whisperings of “what the f…” are not currently provoked by cruelty so much as stupidity. And it can all be traced back to Facebook and the “political argument.” The bane of society as we know it.

No matter how much I’m goaded, I swear to myself over and over that I will not be drawn into political arguments on Facebook, I will not be drawn into political arguments on Facebook, I will not be drawn into political arguments on Facebook, I will not be drawn into political arguments on Facebook…

Ugh. Move over wine, I think it’s time for the hard stuff.