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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

A Fool and His Facebook

I just don’t understand the world.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not looking for another world to try. The commute would be a pain in the ass, for starters. And I probably wouldn’t understand that one, either.

But this one? Bewildering.

Mostly, it’s the people that confuse me. Other stuff, I mostly get. Trees, for instance. I’ve never been flummoxed by a tree. Rocks are pretty straightforward. Sidewalks, underpants, ballpoint pens — I’ve got a fairly solid handle on these things. It really is just the people I don’t know how to deal with. People, and all the crazy-to-me shit that they do.

Like Facebook.

Oh, I’ve got the basics of Facebook down. I’m old — but I’m not that old. I never call it “the Facebook”, unless I’m being ironic. I’ve poked a peep or two, tagged a few walls, and never yet — yet! — posted a private message into an embarrassing public place. Hell, I even write an article series spoofing companies on the Facebook.

(See? That was ironic. I got this.)

But sometimes I log into my Facepage account, and I’m just floored by crap I don’t remotely understand.

I’m not even talking about emails changing every other week, or that ‘Timeline’ nightmare. They’ll cram my wall into a freaking timeline when they pry it out of my cold, offline hands.

Or when they make it mandatory. Whichever comes first.

Anyway, I’m not talking about that. I’m thinking of something much more fundamental. And caused by people. It’s the suggestions.

Facebook suggests people all the time. That makes sense. Maybe I know a friend-of-a-friend, or someone who graduated from the same high school or clown college or asylum for the criminally smart-assed. Fine.

But then it suggests… other stuff. Things that other people — people like you!, Facebook insists — have publicly declared their love for. Or at least their “Like” for.

“I want more shopping like a vegan wants more bacon enemas.”

Like Shopping.

I just logged in, and Facebook, under a heading of ‘Recommended Pages‘, suggested that I might be interested in declaring a like for Shopping.

Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Zuck?

Never mind that I’m the last person you’d suggest would be interested in shopping. I want more shopping like a vegan wants more bacon enemas. A couple of weeks ago, I wrotegiddily, I might add — about the prospect of never having to step foot in a commerce shop again. Of any kind. Ever!

(I’m getting the goosebumps now, just thinking about it. That’s where I’m at with this ‘Shopping‘ thing.)

That’s not what bewilders me. Marketers are ignorant little grease weasels; we all get suggestions that make zero sense for us, every single day. But the thing is — just for the sake of this post, mind you; I hope you people appreciate the extra mile I’m sweating out for you — I clicked on that Shopping link.

And behind it, there’s a Shopping Facebook page. Said page consists of these things: text from Wikipedia about shopping, and a ‘Like’ button. And also this brain-bamboozling bit of text:

2,150,324 like this

For the love of Sam Walton’s tutued tap-dancing corpse, whyyyyyy?

Not “why do people like to shop?” Some people like to shop. Fine. Some people don’t like baseball. Some people like country music. And some people are batshit crazy and run through the streets in a diaper singing Yankee Doodle.

(Probably the same people who like shopping, hate baseball and listen to country music. I’m just saying. Probably. Look it up.)

But who enjoys shopping — or ANYTHING, for that matter — so completely and mindlessly and unselfconsciously to click a button on a page with a lifted Wikipedia blurb (and nothing more!), to shout to the world:

I lurrrrrrves this sooooo murch! Gawrsh!

Who? More than two million people, is who.

I’ll say it again. I just do not understand the world. And especially the people.

Not everything is like this. And I’m not railing against every suggestion Facebook makes. I refreshed the page, and the Zuck army decided I might like TED. And I just might. That page has videos to talks, people commenting, updates, highlights, things whizzing around right and left. That’s a good suggestion. Well done.

(Though it pains me that nearly the exact same number of people ‘Like’ TED as Shopping. I’d like to see the Venn diagram on those people. If they overlap by more than six people, I’m back to not knowing what the hell to think.

Unless the entire overlap is due to spaztastic squealing SHOPPAHN!! fans click-spooging all over the page, until they’re associated with all sorts of nonsense they can’t figure out how to ‘Unlike’.

Come to think of it, I’m convinced that’s how Mensa gets most of its interest. It makes sense.)

Back on topic, I reloaded again and got these suggestions — all at once, no lie:

David Sedaris

Ann Romney

Dalai Lama

Men’s Wearhouse

You FB people are just throwing shit at the wall now. There’s not a human this side of The Fourteen Hundred and Three Faces of Eve who’s interested in all four of those things. Not one. I’m starting to rethink my Facebook use. I’m reloading again.

David Sedaris

Michelle Obama

Jesus Christ

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Okay, now I’m starting to rethink some of the people I’ve linked to as friends. Either some of them are seriously schizophrenic, or they would not get along with each other in the same room.

Unless that room’s in a mall, apparently, and there’s a politician’s wife, a religious figure, David Sedaris, and lots and lots of SHAPPANG!!

Like I said. I just do not understand.

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