Friday, March 18, 2016

The Facebook Effect


All you writers know what I'm talking about. I like you. I don't like you. As writers we know that when it comes to words, it ain't that easy. There are all manner of gray shades, and purple shades, plaid shades, and so on.

Actually, this effect started long before Facebook arrived. It's just that Facebook really pushes it. Like. Don't like. Unlike.

This whole thing started way back with our (or someone's) desire to mechanize everything, to put things in little boxes, all tidy, with labels, so everything's easy to deal with. Emotions, for example. I'm sad. I'm glad. What? Can't I be somewhere between those two?

This line of thinking got started when Wendy and I were having some really good thin-crust pizza, an Argentinian steak pizza, at Saul Good's. We were talking about those ridiculous tests we have to take called health assessments, so we can maintain a certain type of health insurance. And what it comes down to, we decided, is that they're bogus, with the black-and-white questions. Here are a couple of examples, paraphrased:

How many drinks do you have per day? Per month?

How many days this month did you feel sad?

Have you ever smoked cigarettes?

How many days did you feel tired this month?

Everything quantified. All sorted, nice and easy. You're this or you're that. You're black. You're white. You're disabled. You're unproductive. You're old. You're a team player.

Boxes.

Doesn't work that way, my friends. You can't put emotions, lives, attitudes, or people in neat little plastic containers. That's what we learn, hopefully, with writing. That's what we as writers take to the rest of the world.

That's not simply a blue sky. It's a sky like that one from when you were six years old, on that early spring afternoon, rushing home from school to watch Dark Shadows, when the not cool/not warm air made you take off your jacket as you ran, and it smelled like birds and grass and baseball and things about to happen.

Now, let's see them put that sentence in a box.

Keep writing, friends.

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