Friday, July 31, 2009

The Next Facebook

Pete has asked a very valid question via stupidTwittergoddamnit: what is the next facebook that everyone's parents aren't on? Although neither of us would ever post anything to facebook that wasn't for general consumption, and both of us keep our pages private anyway, it's still mildly troubling that when a friend posts something profoundly stupid or grotesque, the older adults in my life can just bop on over to my page and check it out. Perhaps I shouldn't have friended them, but how cruel would it be to say to your mother, the woman who gave you life, "No, I'm worried you'll find my friends' fart jokes offensive. Or asinine. And then you won't want me to be friends with them." Okay, so this is not a literal issue for me. My friends don't tell fart jokes (at least not on facebook) and my mom wouldn't care (or notice) if they did. She has better things to do with her time and is a fully licensed and bonded member of the On-Line Community. But I think about other people's moms. If I comment on someone's picture that looks like they're getting a bj from a pirate statue, will their mom read it and think, "Oh my lands! mah baaaaby!" (All other people's moms sound like southern ladies from old Bugs Bunny cartoons in my head.)

Pete thinks they should just be generationally separated somehow. Maybe by reunion decade. All the people between grad and 10 years can see each other, but not those between 10 and 20. Or if you have kids who are old enough to understand what facebook is. My 15-year old cousin friended everyone in the family and we're all weirded out by it. Not because he isn't great (he is!), but because we lead completely different, non-intersecting-except-that-we're-related-and-see-each-other-at-holidays lives. I'm not in high school. He's not pondering how to advance his career, buy a house and start a family. It doesn't mean I don't love him or that I'm not interested in what he's up to; it just means I don't want to see his quiz results in my news feed (but which muppet is he?? and how does he even know what a muppet is! Jim Henson had been dead for almost four years by the time he was born!) and I don't want him to see my comments on people's crap on his (I guess I'm a balloon full of mayonnaise? whatever that means; I wanted to be a chair).

The thing is, facebook is the It thing right now, but remember when MySpace was all the rage? I kept hearing about it, but looking at one of those things feels like being hit in the face with epilepsy, so I was never personally interested. And now all the parents are getting into stupidTwittergoddamnit, so that we can all know when they've eaten a sandwich or if it's hot today or whatever it is that people tweet about. (When I investigated stupidTwittergoddamnit in grad school, lo these many (3) years ago, it seemed like all the posts were "I'm eating a ham sandwich" or "Home from work. TGIF, lol!" I have not seen any convincing evidence that things have changed much since then. And yes, I've seen Shaq's feed.) But that too shall pass. The truth of the matter is, in my opinion, our parents are always going to join new social networking stuff online because we'll always talk about it. Or people they work with will.

Ultimately, the best policy is the one drilled into you in kindergarten: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. The internet is not the free-for-all, anything-goes, anonymity that many would like to believe it is. Everything can be traced back to its progenitor (or 4-Chan, but those are often one and the same) and eventually that fat guy at work is going to find out you refer to him as Muffin Stuffer "in your facebook"; your dad's brother-in-law is going to stumble upon that picture of him tripping over his own ridiculous lawn ornament on Fail Blog; and your grandmother is going to be horrified to discover that you're an atheist. Typing without thinking, editing, carefully weighing each potential misunderstanding, profits no one, and yet everyone does it everyday. Me, I'm trying to keep putting my foot in my mouth the old-fashioned way, by not thinking before I speak. (Yes, a superior at work actually said to me yesterday, "That's Dr. Dude to you," and for that, I thank her. It's good to be reminded that being friendly, that liking someone professionally, does not mean you're friends. Not in the fullest sense of the word, anyway.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cultral Tropes: Riding in Vehicles

On our way home from dinner tonight, Pete and I saw this great little MG convertible containing a guy and (probably) his son. It occurred to me that I don't think I've ever actually ridden in a convertible. I feel like I have. I've certainly seen enough of them and experienced it vicariously through TV and movies that this personal oversight has gone unmarked. That got me started on thinking about how many other vehicle-related cultural tropes there are that you might not actually ever experience without feeling any personal lack for not having done so. I'm going to start a list here of the ones I can think of. Maybe you have additions? How many of these things have you done? Have you ever thought, "Man, I'd really like to do that someday!" about any of them, or are these the kinds of things that no one ever really feels like they're missing out on? Here is my list. I've put an asterisk before the one's I've done.
  • *Drive in general
  • *Ride as a passenger in general
  • Ride in a convertible
  • *Ride in the back of a pick-up truck (in the bed)
  • *Ride in a limo
  • *Ride in a taxi in general
  • *Ride in a yellow cab in New York
  • *Ride in an old black taxi in London
  • *Be driven in a town car
  • Ride in an ATV
  • Ride a motorcycle
  • Ride a scooter/moped
  • *Ride a bicycle
  • Ride a tandem bicycle
  • Ride in a car with your feet out the window (My mom has a terrible story about someone doing this that results in a broken leg, so I could never bring myself to do it.)
  • *Ride a city bus
  • *Ride the subway in any city
  • Ride the subway in New York
  • *Take a San Francisco trolley
  • Ride in the Portland tram (gondola? what is that thing called again?)
  • *Ride in a funicular
  • Ride a Swiss gondola (the mountain kind)
  • *Take a train in the US
  • *Take a train in Europe
  • Ride a train from one state to another
  • *Ride a train from one country to another
  • *Sleep in the sleeping car of a train
  • Take the Trans-Siberian railroad
  • Take the Orient Express (Can you even do this anymore?)
  • *Drive from one state to another (Oregon to Washington doesn't count, Oregonians. And Virginia/Maryland/DC doesn't count, DC-area people.)
  • *Drive across the US
  • *Drive across a country other than the US
  • *Drive between countries
  • Drive between countries other than the US and Canada
  • *Ride a ferry
  • *Drive your car onto/off of a ferry
  • Take a cruise
  • *Canoe
  • Kayak
  • Whitewater raft
  • Ride in a speedboat (Maybe? I don't think so, but I'm not sure)
  • *Ride in a rowboat
  • Ride in a Dragonboat
  • Ride in a sailboat
  • Ride in a Venetian gondola (Had the opportunity; couldn't bring ourselves to do it)
  • *Take the Sternwheeler
  • Ride in a Mississippi riverboat
Well, that's probably good enough. I probably shouldn't have bothered with the boats. In any case, I hope it's at least food for thought.

Monday, July 06, 2009

An Open Letter to the Loud Engine Dickwads Who Drive Past My House

Dear Dickwads,

Okay, I get it, you have small penes. But there are many quieter alternatives to an unmuffled exhaust system for letting everyone know that. For instance, you could just walk around pantsless wearing a t-shirt that reads, "Hey everyone, I've got a small penis!" Or, if that's too direct for you, what about silk shirts open to the navel so that everyone can see your copious chest hair and gold medallions? Gold medallions + chest hair + unbuttoned silk shirt = small penis. That is math anyone can do. Another idea is to join a glamrock Toby Keith cover band. See? I'm full of ideas here and all of them are quieter than your goddamned engines!

The thing is, when you drive by I can't hear my husband speak, I can't hear the TV or the radio, I can't hear myself think. Sure, I know you have a small penis (your obvious goal in all of this), but I can't, in point of fact, see you because - and this is crucial - I'm inside my house. So you have not actually achieved your goal at all! I know someone has a small penis, but it could be your neighbor, Silk Shirt Steve. Or any of your biker buddies, or the guys in your Assholes of America Car Club. See? The pantsless thing would work way better! I mean, I can’t see you when I’m in my living room trying to watch Miss Marple on OPB anyway. So there’s no need to alert me to the passing-by of a truly tiny John Thomas. But if you did the pantsless thing, or the cover band thing (I do live next to a live music venue!), the laughter of the people who could see you would alert me and make me come to the window. Then, voilá! You would achieve your goal of me knowing about your less than mighty member!


With ire and lip-curling, homicidal frustration,


PS Maybe check the comments section for other ideas as to how you could more quietly share your little longfellow with the world. I have found the people who read my blog to be most helpful in all respects.