11 October 2012

Correspondence on grey-sky 10-11-12

This post began as a response to email from a dear friend.  Under the  Subject Line "Why I am not suited for FaceBook" he sent a poem ("Fuck the Middle Class") and a photo of a small cemetery.  I found the entire missive evocative and started my response:  

Thank you.
This is a place to start on one more no-sun day in Holly Springs MS: the closed society...

The main reason I am inclined to "go in order" and deliver a point-by-point response to this luscious message is that I was raised in an aspiring-to-middle-class Negro family in a small town in the midwestern U.S. in the middle of the 20th century.

An image of a herd, milling and mooing, comes to mind. Cows, buffalo, zebra, antelope. Growing up, watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (on black and white TV! no less) I learned there is safety in the middle of the herd. Those who find themselves on the periphery face the greatest danger.

Here's one idea:  in the animal kingdom, the danger at the periphery is being killed and eaten by a predator of a different species. The risk at the periphery in the human realm is rejection by members of one's native species...or even being killed (but not eaten; cannibalism is strictly prohibited among civilized people).

The implicit comment about FB in your Subject line catches my eye.  Likely because the past week in FB World has been bizarre and absurd and emotional. For two days, I've been thinking "FB is whack! Why do I bother? Why do I go there?" The presidential campaign has fried a lot of people. On my Wall I witness people whose devotion to one candidate or another manifests as hundreds of posts fired into the news feed stream every day....and people who log on to fight digitally with everybody about everything that contradicts their world view.

I've witnessed two meltdowns this week.  Both of them women. One of them, after years of assiduous adherence to a "be nice" policy on FB, went a little crazy. In a thread about "liberal fantasies," I opined that indulgence of fantasy is not restricted by political persuasion. The woman in question responded to that comment (in part....an excerpt will serve to illustrate my point): 
 A fetus, baby, or glob is viable out of the womb at 24 weeks. You could either put the fetus, baby, or glob in an incubator to help it survive, IF you wanted the fetus, baby, or glob. If a fetus, baby, or glob is 24 weeks old, and you DO NOT want the fetus, baby, or glob, it is OK, with some, to suck it out, limb by limb, and let the fetus, baby, or glob float to the top in a bucket of blood. Bizarre, Alex. Absolutely bizarre!

It is sheer fantasy to not call this act the murder of a fetus, baby, or glob. We all have different views and opinions. There are other fantasies I could address. At this point, I will abstain.
 The other meltdown also sprang from a thread that seemed to be about American politics but eventually collapsed (or exploded) around religious faith.
It's curious to me, an ebb and flow I sense sometimes on Facebook:  at times there seems to be much chatter in the town square (Arendt's "public realm"), and other times it feels like a ghost town, just a few tumbleweed posts from FB addicts blowing across my Wall. At various times I have perceived jubilation and dismay and hilarity and anger and vanity and courage on the Wall. 

There is a pervasive lack of consciousness on FB.  Apparent to me at least. And I notice that it's really no more marked or prevalent in the cyber realm than in the real-life realm; but where I am usually dismayed-but-resigned when I encounter it in real-life, I am irritated or frightened by the FB version.

And there's been increased evidence of primitive, un-evolved consciousness on display at FB lately. I was thinking about it this way this morning:

The "race question", never very far away or submerged in the U.S. mindset, has reared its head with a mounting vengeance since Obama's campaign and election to the presidency. A lot of white people are appalled by the things other white people are saying, shocked and sickened by the vile, naked ignorance, brutality and anger being expressed by "their own people." I'm not shocked. I am deeply saddened -- and exhausted -- to find the herd still here, on the same muddy bloody spot we have always stood...still needing to moo and bawl and low in the same old way, nothing new to say.

And so it goes. 


There are other reasons I'm also feeling ill-suited to FB these days. But I'd rather sit at a piano than a computer now.  So this will do for today.