Saturday, August 2, 2014

It Was Called Facebook

Boys, I  don't usually address your future selves directly but today I thought I would.  (So, those of you just looking on now, in the present, you can skip this one if you'd like.)  You see, there is something I think needs explaining.

Once upon a time there was a pretty cool thing that got people talking and meeting and sharing and showing pictures and dreams and thoughts with each other.   It may be around for you now, but, it's probably like a circular flier of ads in what was once called a newspaper and it is just ignored and tossed away, forgotten.

At first it was pretty cool.   I got caught up with old friends, kept in touch with family, made new acquaintances, even got involved in groups that had the same interests and passions - S@HDs for instance and a caring and involved group of Dad Bloggers for another.  It also did something else that was nice, it let you make a little page for your blog, or your non-profit, or your child’s team or playgroup, and folks could see when something was posted or was happening.

And then, well, it didn't work anymore.  You see, it went public, meaning shares were sold, and the dude, Zucker-something (I am sure you've never heard of him), tried every conceivable way to make more money out of it.   It was rife with ads and bullshit links that went nowhere except to other places wanting more clicks and more money.  They began monitoring what we were looking at and talking about and then advertised those things to us and, well, it got ugly.  Worse than that, all the little people with blogs and church links and school pages and Little League pages and decent and worthy not-for-profit companies were quietly left out of it.  The Zuckerdude, his name escapes me, decided we should have to pay for the privilege of using his site to say when the bake sale was.

I get that, I get capitalism, I get that once you start working for share-holders you no longer care about the product or the service you provide.   But, here's the thing, the people who “liked,” uh, said they wanted to see what a particular “page” wanted to show them, who wanted to know when the fundraiser at the church was or what their favorite blogger had to say or needed to know when soccer practice was, stopped getting those notifications.  Here's the kicker, even though folks had liked a page in good faith, assumed that a company or service or whatever would bind it self at least to some shred of decency, the company stopped doing what was right, and chose only to show these pages if it could make them more money.

It was called Face Book.

I am using it right now, it still functions, I still talk to my friends and such, but, and this is important, I don't trust it.

Many, many, many people used it as a way to sort of document their families and lives and, well, I don't think that was a very good idea.  I'll bet, as you read this sometime in the future, you haven't seen all the pictures your Mom and many other Moms and Dads “posted” on the thing.  Probably, if you pay a price, you could look at the archives and see them – I wonder how that will work?

That is one of the main reasons I have stuck to writing this blog for so many years.  I have it backed up and could print it out at anytime but, wow, let me tell you, there are dozens of places I could have written about you, more that I could have put the pictures we took of you.

For instance, I could of posted this picture on Facebook of something you, Nick, did that cracked me up.  Remember, you filled a bottle up with water and I threw it away and then you did this:

Yeah, it's funny and would probably get a few comments and a bunch of "likes" but, but... then it would be forgotten, buried in the detritus of literally thousands of other images of nachos and chickens and "selfies" (a selfish story for another time) and playgrounds and, well, everything else, literally, under the sun.  The memory of this is more important than that.  You made a great joke, and I want to remember it, I want you to remember it, I want you to know I found it important enough to not bury under the corners of the world wide web, that I put it in a place that will be always dear and near to me.

I suppose there is a Pinterest page I could have put this picture of the hawk that you, Zack, have been watching all summer long.  But, where would I tell the story of watching it soar playfully above the back yard, swooping down and landing majestically on the fence.  To whom would I tell the story of finding the rabbit fur and feathers and guts out beyond the pine trees and explaining the circle that is survival.  To no one and everyone?  You, son, are better than that.

Should I tell the story, in a-hundred-and-forty-characters or less, of the time Nick and I were walking to a bathroom in a campground on a beautiful, serene summer day, and you mentioned that your neck made a "click" and I suggested maybe it was a "pop" or something more like that.  You walked on and I said that it was probably a muscle or a tendon and sort of teased you because a click was more of a machine sound or a robot noise.  You took a nice long beat and turned to me and said, deadpan, "Don't make me use my laser eyes."  What part of that should I leave out to fit on Twitter, and, why would I let that go out and then be lost under an avalanche of the short spurts of constant twaddle that live, and die, there?

As I said there are so many places I could put this picture you made, Zack.  Do you remember?  You wanted to explain to Mom how you got up on top of the roof, the route you took, the plan you had, so you drew his picture to show her.  Should I have placed this on some, long gone, or now pay-to-play Instagram or hoped something called HuffPo might deign to steal this picture and put on some click through thingee that didn't make any sense or so many other giant sites that said they'd post your pictures and then decided that they owned them as well?  How would you find it now?  Isn't this worth more than I few looks, a few clicks, all behind walls of ads and popups and so much crap?  I think it is.

I hope you see my point, dear sons.  I started this all because I wanted to remember you and serve your childhood.  I chose to not scatter and carelessly throw around the images and stories that I find so important now and forever.  So, look no further than this memoir, boys.  It is all here and in the photobooks your Mom so diligently made for you, over on the shelves, by the fireplace, real and tangible, like the love I want you to know we had, and will forever have, for you.

Oh, are you still with me?  That's nice, thanks.  I hope I didn't make you mad, you, here, now - my present day readers.  I know many of you feel that this whole internet thing is forever.  Maybe it is, and, that'd be cool, but, what if it is not?


  1. "Yahoo." (Sorry, I got a little excited). I "stumbled upon" this story somehow. I am glad I "read it." It brought back memories.

    Facebook was good once. And possibly it will be again now that MANGS owns the majority share.

    As you know, MANGS is the combination of Microsoft, Apple, Nokia, Google, and Samsung which has pooled money to finance the takeover of social media platforms that weren't doing good anymore and this poor performance by that platform lead to the loss of sales of the smartphones, tablets and the brainchip.

    Oh, and it's sad how that Zucker dude was killed by a brown bear back in 2023. I guess you weren't to know in 2014 that he'd go like that.

    I'd love to read your follow up to this now that 10 years have gone by...

    1. Good stuff, Darrell, thanks for stopping by. 2023, eh? That's when my sons graduate from High School, and, most likely, about the time I'll let them have their own social media accounts. I am a closet Luddite...

  2. Bill,
    Great read as always. I really like how you take the "everyday" events and show how they are memorable to you, and hopefully your boys - which is all that matters.

  3. Interesting thoughts and colorful wording add usual. Thanks for sharing. I agree with you mostly. My blog serves multiple purposes to document, to stretch my writing legs, to have some fun while opining and even to make some beer money. I love your focus and your blog, I do more of this type of thing in physical books I create online and order copies of for myself, my wife, my kids and the grandparents. When the grid goes down, we'll still have those and so agree it's important.

  4. I just wrote an exquisite opus responding to your post and it disappeared when I attempted to publish it. I momentarily contemplated retyping it, begrudgingly, before I realizing that simply telling you what happened is perhaps more poignant considering your subject matter.

  5. I HATE what FB has become. Although we seem to have graduated from hearing what everyone's having for lunch, the ads are ridiculous and there's no way to hide people or edit the stream. *sigh* That said, I still put up little snippets of things going on around here. The blog, while I do have quite a few crossover pen pals, is still not "public" for me and that's where the WHOLE story goes. But I also buy one book a year, from blog2print just to keep it in the bookshelf. Someday, who knows... maybe I'll pull the plug on the whole thing. At least then, I'll have the books.

  6. I remember when all we had was MySpace and Friends Reunited - life was a lot simpler back then!

  7. Bill,
    Great insight and thoughtful analysis of Facebook and other social media. I love your way with words. So eloquent and full of emotion. Thanks for sharing this with us. -Carl