Please De-Friend Me! A 12-Step Facebook Litmus Test

I’m often baffled by anyone who want to be friends with me–particularly about lefty agenda items that can’t be shaken out of my brain through a meme or “But Hillary did worse!” argument. Maybe they are on an evangelical Karl Rove mission to let me see my folly–or perhaps they’re just fans of NASCAR crashes and fifth grade choir concerts.  It’s like me saying, “You say you sell Amway?  Let’s hear all about it!” I think the Zuckerbergians in the bowels of Facebook should develop a litmus-test for friends, replacing the holistic score we give folks as we look over our friends “in common” before we let them in our virtual lives of cats, knee injuries and occasional political viewpoints. No one likes unpleasant surprises, such as finding out your house-closing that your new neighbor can’t stand people with consonants in their names.  I’d love a Zillow rating system such as a “Cup of Sugar” score of 9 indicating the likelihood to… Read More…

“If a Tweet Falls in the Forest…” Life without Applause-Signs, Laugh-Tracks & Likes

It’s often not so much what happens in our lives—as what we figure ought to happen.  If no one likes this post, did it fail? I started noticing  camera-angles and how they manipulated the audience far too early in my life–especially for the poor bystanders who were stuck in a living room, basement or movie theater with me. The Cosby Show, for all of its garish sweaters and too-good-to-be-true charm of a doctor/lawyer upper-middle class family, was a breakthrough on many levels—it revitalized the sit-com and finally placed a TV African-American family out of the ghetto—if you bypass George Jefferson moving on up. But what I noticed immediately, from my hero of a dozen scratched LP comedy albums, was the cutaway to Clair—Cliff Huxtable’s long-suffering wife who managed to smile through the monologues.  You’ll see it in every episode, the need for the reaction shot—generally Phylicia Rashad or one of the kids letting… Read More…

The Facebook Birthday Fix: Evidence for Defending Your Life

Today is my wife’s birthday and, like a true Facebook lurker, I can’t help but drift into her page and see the many greetings coming from all walks of her life. Patrice is one of those rare people whose default setting is funny, matter-of-fact, wise, generous, caring and, somehow, so modest she thinks she isn’t really any of these. Small wonder that she’s had the same girls in her scout troop for over ten years. Reading the posts of all the lives she’s touched, I’ve am impressed by how many agree with her wise husband. Facebook has made it incredibly easy for me to be considerate. It sends me nudges about my friends’ birthdays and has moved their big days to the top-right of my screen. When I first joined, it was late August 2008 and a month later when my birthday hit I was so surprised by not only… Read More…

Rating People Like Movies? Using a Metascore for Your Neighbor and Spouse

In the land of The Newsroom‘s Aaron Sorkin, everything ends up as it should be–Karma works and Yins and Yangs co-exist happily.  (For example, the Obamacare websites would be working on day one.)  In Sorkin’s final scene in The Social Network he portrays the Facebook founder as a miserable billionaire with no friends, cyber stalking his ex-girlfriend who started the whole ball a-rollin’–all to the Beatle’s tune, “Baby You’re a Rich Man.” But unfortunately for us, Zuckerberg’s not really that sad and Martin Sheen isn’t in charge of the Affordable Health Care Act.  Hollywood isn’t real–but maybe a piece of Hollywood could be real–the Metascore. Bloodsuckers in Washington?  Who Knew? I’d finally caved and started a Netflix viewing of the terribly bad, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.   “Now that’s a mistake,” I complained.  “The White House didn’t have that second floor porch until Truman was president.” “They also didn’t have vampires,”… Read More…

Uncle Richie Reaches Home.

This past weekend, I flew back to Philly to go to the latest of the three funerals I’ve had to attend over the past few months. My paternal grandmother was the first in the series, having passed last September; a good friend of mine “went home” just before Christmas, an event I wrote about in these pages already (My Fading Accent); and this time, it was the funeral of my Uncle Richie. Frankly, with no disrespect intended, I was not very close to him, although he was a steady presence of my life. I don’t write to cremate Richie or to praise him, but this weekend, as I nodded towards family members I now see only when someone dies, I was confronted with a fact each one of us already knows; we don’t escape our families. These people who play semi-recurring characters in our personal sitcoms are with us always…. Read More…

Tragedy and Media: Safety in Numbers

Times Square on New Year’s Eve has always seemed a bit too claustrophobic for me. How can anyone enjoy themselves in such a giant crowd?  What’s the attraction?  The image of 26,000 runners heading off together seemed similar–like pedestrian rush-hour. I can’t even shop at the mall at Christmas time. One of the pivotal scenes in Gone with the Wind follows Rhett Butler’s ominous words, “In a town called Gettysburg.”  The scene shifts to a giant crowd gathering at the Atlanta railroad station’s telegraph office to get the long casualty lists arriving from Pennsylvania.   Scarlett reads down to the “W’s” then is crying tears of relief that her beloved Ashley isn’t on the list.  Many grieving families clutched the sheets with their sons’ names as the only connection they had left. Monday at work, when my phone flashed the quick message “Two explosions at finish line of Boston Marathon,”… Read More…