Monday, July 21, 2014

Geriatric Facebook

Facebook, like youth, is wasted on the young. I'm sure this is not what Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins had in mind when they created the social network, but Facebook is the perfect old fart medium. Teens use FB to chat with their circle of friends. Old folks have generations of classmates, pals, and significant others with which to interact. Personally, I confess to checking out and befriending old girlfriends all the way back to the fifth grade at East High, when I stole my first after school kiss. (Love ya' Cynthia). I enjoy seeing how some people have aged better than others, and it usually has to do with decades of alcohol consumption. I was always a light drinker and that's why I'm still so pretty. In some cases, I've noticed that age turns young boys into old men, and young girls into old men as well. Especially on Throwback Thursday, when everyone posts pictures of themselves at their thinnest, or handsomest, or hairiest. I sympathize with the hair thing. I have embraced my minimalist tonsorial look. Among my FB friends are those popular girls that I was too shy to talk to in high school, who now express their secret devotion. It's almost like getting laid, only without the nudity and hyperventilation, which can be dangerous for those diagnosed with hypertension. 
If you don't understand the references above, you're not one of the nearly 200 million Facebook users in the US, or billion worldwide. Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has grown from a Harvard dating site to a force of nature, affecting everything from the presidential elections to the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Though its organizational potential is a natural phenomenon, FB is still primarily a site for friends to reconnect. In 2010, the largest majority of Facebook users were between the ages of 18-25, and the smallest demographic was the 55-65 age group. A 2014 Pew study said that although a number of younger users had fled to sites like Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, the most dramatic rise in Facebook users were people over 65, which is why you're suddenly getting poked by MeeMaw.  Not to underestimate the influence of the happening generation, it was just announced that Shakira has become the most popular celebrity on Facebook, with over 100 million "likes," compared to the paltry 90 million for Eminem and Rihanna. My generation doesn't know who Shakira is, except those who "like" her page and are treated to posts like the 2006 "Hips Don't Lie" video. To see Shakira do that thing she does persuaded me to "like" her too.  
I sincerely enjoy seeing all the pictures of my friends' dogs and cats. I love pictures of the kids and the vacation updates. I don't even mind the grandchildren or the group luncheon photos. But do we have to know the mundane details of your life?  I don't care that you just got back from yoga and are pondering dinner selections for Bubba. And please keep the sordid details of your colonoscopy preparation out of my reality. Since Facebook is pretty much rules free and anyone can post whatever they wish, except for porn and whatever is considered beyond the pale of human decency, someone should compile a list of unofficial tips for "senior" users to avoid annoying others. Even though such an individual would risk the scorn of his "friends," I shall once again leap into the breach with a list of irritating Facebook offenders, beginning with:
The Overposter. This person lives on Facebook and posts "memes," and Zig Ziglar-like messages of positive reinforcement.  Thanks for the encouragement Dale Carnegie, but I really don't need your advice. A couple of saccharine posts are tolerable, but after a dozen, I'll probably put you on "acquaintance" status.
The Phantom Tagger. Yes, I'm certain these articles you found on the internet about Justin Bieber buying Graceland are entertaining, but what do they have to do with me?
The True Believer. I'm happy for your devotion to your faith, but I am not going to click "like," if I love Jesus. Some of us are Jewish. Do you ever see any posts saying click "like" if you love Moses? Too many religious posts on my feed and you're outta there. Same thing goes for prayer requests. Is it ok if I send a prayer up to the mighty Ba'al? How about Zoroaster?
The Animal Zealot. I am very aware that cruelty to animals exists, but I don't need to see it up close and personal. These people are the shock-jocks of FB, believing that posting pictures of abused and injured animals will nauseate some sick fuck into changing his ways. I'm with you all the way in encouraging care for animals, but these kinds of pictures only hurt those that already care.
Game Solicitors. I get it. The more "friends" you invite to play, the more free points you get. Stop it. Some of us are busy.
Marketers. I appreciate that you need to rustle up some business, but not on my page.
Pokers. I really don't understand this whole "poke" thing. Is that like a sharp jab in the ribs? I was attempting to print up a T-Shirt for older folks that said; "I poked your mother on Facebook," but the online company balked over potential copyright infringement. The alternative is to post a sign on my wall that says, "No Pokes." That would guarantee that only members of a certain generation who understood what that phrase meant, would do wise to keep their distance. At least for awhile.
I hope this helps, and one more thing, unless we're real-life friends, don't post on my page.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Supreme Court and Spark

Remember Earl Butz, the Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Nixon and Ford? I'm sorry, of course you don't. Ask Pops if he remembers Earl Butz? He was a right-winger who favored corporate farming and campaigned to end New Deal programs, but he was best known for his crude humor and a string of personal gaffes. Butz was ultimately fired for telling a racist joke in the company of white-bucs-and-mayonnaise singer Pat Boone and White House Counsel John Dean, that was so repugnant, even Nixon couldn't stand to keep him around anymore. Before that incident, however, Butz received world-wide attention after an international conference in 1974 where he ridiculed Pope Paul VI's opposition to birth control by saying in a mock-Italian accent, "He no playa the game, he no maka the rules." The White House made him apologize to Catholics for his insensitivity, but he had a point. Why should a secretive group of celibate men determine the reproductive health options for a billion women who serve under their religious leadership? Then again, why should five, male, Catholic Justices of the Supreme Court be allowed to make laws concerning women's birth control issues in the good old US of A? And in the 21st century. I thought we had settled this argument in the sixties. To the male members of the Supreme Court - what Earl Butz said.
In the controversial Hobby Lobby decision, the court decided that a closely held public corporation, like the Green family's Christian bead and thread racket, had the right to a religious exemption in providing certain methods of birth control to their female employees under the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the Greens' "sincerely held religious beliefs" prevented them from allowing the IUD or the morning-after pill to be included in the health coverage for over 13,000 employees, because they believe that anything that interferes with a fertilized egg's development is akin to abortion. Until now, the Supreme Court has never declared a for-profit company as a religious organization for purposes of federal law. But since they already declared that corporations are merely people using money as speech, why shouldn't they give them a religion too? We could have Sunday services in the foyer of Home Depot and Wednesday Bible study at Chik-fil-A. If a corporation declared a religious objection to child labor laws, or immunization programs, or serving a mixed-race couple in a public restaurant, would that also be covered by the Hobby Lobby decision?
The Hobby Lobby pays insurance premiums to big companies that are supposed to cover all their employees' health needs. Their objection to two forms of female contraception in the great realm of health concerns is merely picking and choosing just whose religious freedom is being impeded, the boss or the employee. Shouldn't something as personal as the morning-after pill be a discussion between a woman and her doctor or pharmacist, rather than between a woman and her employer? A male corporate officer is now legally permitted to say to a female executive, "You can take birth control pills, but don't let me catch you with an IUD." Of course, if contraception were the sole responsibility of men, it would be universally mandated. This absurd decision was less about religious freedom than a bunch of cranky old men having another whack at Obamacare. When you pay your monthly health insurance premium, you have no say as to how that money is spent. I don't like part of my yearly income taxes going to finance wars, but I still pay them.

The three female justices fiercely dissented, especially Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote a blistering thirty-five page dissent saying that the court had "ventured into a minefield," enquiring might there also be a "religiously grounded objection to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); anti-depressants (Scientologists); or medications derived from pigs (like) anesthesia and intravenous fluids (Muslims, Jews, and Hindus)?" In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, leaders of fourteen Christian organizations have written a letter to President Obama demanding religious exemption from a pending executive order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against gays in hiring practices. The letter claims, "Without a robust religious exemption this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity, and religious freedom." Really? What's next? Who eats at the drug store lunch counter? These fourteen Christian groups wish to reserve the right to discriminate against the gay, lesbian, and transgender community, because that's what Jesus would do. What has just happened is the Supreme Court has unconstitutionally declared an official state religion, and until a Congress emerges with the courage to confront them, that religion is right-wing, conservative Christianity.