Facebook: a Foggy Intersection of the Personal vs Political

I don't really know how to choose a picture for a post like this, so here's a selfie.

I don’t really know how to choose a picture for a post like this, so here’s a selfie. Like an author byline pic or something.

On Facebook you might make a personal statement to discuss as friends often do. You may not expect the vitriol, the name-calling, the war of opposing linked articles. Some people take themselves way too seriously.

On Facebook you might publish an important political or philosophical thought. You may not expect the sophomoric joking, the name-calling, or even disappointing silence. Some people just seem to stumble into fires without realizing how much their ignorance hurts others.

Facebook is a paradoxical scrapbook bulletin. Is it a self-help message board, or a public debate forum? Friends and strangers eavesdrop on conversations which only seem private. Yes, there is a difference between a personal and a political statement, but to “post” either makes it visible to an ever-more difficult to filter list of viewers.

The mixed-message, or even missing, interface metaphors don’t help either. In this serious debate we can “like” with a cheeky thumb. In this string of jokes no one can hear the timbre of our laugh, our indecipherable (are you being sarcastic??) “LOL.” This flexibility can lead to gibberish.

What I see is a stream of consciousness. What I see is a reflection of my own thought process, the way ideas snag each other, the way I flit from a picture memory of wearing Charmander pajamas at last night’s party to the Atlantic article on protesting in Baltimore.

But it is so political to “share.” Leveraging your private thoughts onto others is a political act:  a decision by the few (or one) on which content should be consumed by the many. “But I was just thinking out loud.” If you don’t want to be held to your word, then why say it at all? I could try to end the argument there, but I’d be a hypocrite. Sure, my personal Facebook philosophy is “make it interesting or funny, or else don’t bother.” But I’m an out-loud thinker in life. And I have so many avenues to be heard, which others might not.

Oh Facebook “friends.” We are apparently not all chums who know each other. We have different backgrounds and needs. You let me glance your wedding photos, and that is perhaps how I mistake our intimacy. But I can only keep your name with your face because everything is so efficiently indexed and hyperlinked.

As with most things, I return to the analogy of a party. There are strangers here just as there are best friends. Not all of us are interested in drinking. Not all of us are interested in sex. Not all of us are interested in laughing. Some may debate our constitutional rights. Some may cry over ex girlfriends. Some may write what they see in tiny notebooks. We all seem to want something. In this wild collage, this rowdy jumble, this grasp at boredom’s death, we might find it.

Or just avoid getting any work done ;)

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10 Things to Remember if You Don’t Want Me to Unfairly Compare You to Every Failed Relationship I’ve Ever Had

You may have seen some of the countless Lifehack articles coaching you on how to love people from the highly creative to the anxiety riddled (I’m sorry, I should say the more-neutral “those suffering with anxiety,” but, since I’m in that camp, I like to poke fun), and their knock-offs around the web. Ostensibly, Lifehack devised this listicle formula so that lonely and/or frustrated partners could improve their relationships (or just commiserate) by reading lists of X things to remember if you love someone with fuckin’ problems.

Yet I did not find these articles because I googled “My girlfriend is an introvert, halp!” I found them because people on facebook shared the links on their walls with the effective sentiment: “DUDE YES this is how you must love me and my special snowflake complex!!!” Like some sort of dating-pool memo.

I mean, I’m guilty more than anyone of wishing I could write an instruction manual on how to be my girlfriend. I actually have a small notebook in my night stand titled “A primer” which includes diagrams. I haven’t shown it to anyone for purposes of instruction, yet. Emphasis on yet.

Still, in honor of the self-serving bent of these articles, with much snark, I present:

15 Things to Remember if You Don’t Want Me to Unfairly Compare You to Every Failed Relationship I’ve Ever Had

  1. First of all, let me begin by asking you to remember that my flaws actually make me totally awesome. Or at least that’s what I think, because I’m obsessed with myself.victim-olympics-trophy-my-flaws-make-me-awesome
  2. My ex didn’t like how selfish I was. You will be my next ex if you also believe I need to change this about myself.
  3. Paradoxically, I’m going to ask you to “remember” that I do not have a really obvious and/or annoying bad habit that I do, in fact, have. Remember, I make the rules.
  4. I dated someone for 5 weeks who I found really boring, but kept trying because eye candy / I’m lonely / I needed the sex. Instead of examining how I should better select partners who actually are a good match for me, I will blame you if I am the slightest bit bored. Just FYI.
  5. Compromise is really important to me, just so long as you are the one doing all of the compromising.
  6. I will question you relentlessly for choosing to stay with me, because I have the self esteem of a cat forced into a clown hat. The moment you dump me, I will claim I was too good for you.self-esteem-of-a-cat-forced-clown-hat
  7. My “unique condition” happens to make me a really happy, well-balanced person. No I do not fall asleep with the dirty spoon from eating ice cream stuck in my hair, my laptop beside me on the bed with 20 open tabs evidence of my attempts at total internet oblivion so that I can avoid confronting who I have let myself become.
  8. I have strong beliefs about how my condition affects my physical health even though I have done little research besides a couple shallow internet searches and talking loudly about the possibilities with my bar friends.
  9. I swear to god I am datable.
  10. My ex pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone, which while I fundamentally understand I need from a partner, is something that will make me violently resent you for even trying to do.
  11. I need you to read this cheat sheet because I am desirably complex, not immature and needy. Read the statistics, duh.read-the-statistics-duh
  12. You will never understand me. Just like my ex never did. Which is why we broke up (not because I hooked up with that bartender on my summer vacation).
  13. If it seems like I’m not listening to you, it’s not my fault. I’m just dealing with the ramifications of my unique condition
  14. If it seems like I’m not communicating clearly, you are wrong. You are just being a terrible listener. Just try harder. God.
  15. Please be my mom.

How to Judge a Facebook Event Invite by the Numbers

I’ve been using a very basic set of formulas to figure out how big a Facebook party is going to be, based on these numbers:

facebook-invite-party-numbers-attendance-example

# Going, # Maybe, and # Invited, that’s all I care about.

Here’s the math. It’s simple because I may have a pre-party whiskey in my hand when I need to use it:

Going × 80% + Maybe × 50 % = estimated attendance

and

Invited ÷ Going = desperation index

1 = they only invited their good friends….or their only friends. 3 = approaching desperate, or they might just be popular. 5 = this is the only big party they have ever thrown, plz come!!! 10 = goddamnit promoters.

Some of you smarty pants types may have already crunched the numbers from my initial example, and found very promising figures. Indeed, I would say those numbers just about represent ideal. While it was a great party, there are a few factors I’ve left out.

RSVP Inflation

RSVP Inflation occurs when people feel some sort of obligation to go…or at least say yes. I haven’t figured out an exact number to subtract in these cases, but I do know people are lying liars and will say yes and hope the host doesn’t notice they didn’t make it. (Ummmm…so sometimes I say yes because I want show my support, since maybe just seems disappointing.)  Here are common causes:

  • Housewarming party  <– this is our example
  • Going away party
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversary party (an event that happens every year)
  • Inconvenient but exciting party
  • Ridiculously well-themed party

Ultimately, I don’t think this factored heavily in the attendance of my example. I do think attendance was near or exactly 57.5 people. (Half person = child?? or..) Yet the practical attendance (a.k.a how the party feels to me during the actually-relevant-to-my-life hours of 10pm-3am) was about 15 people lower. Which brings me to my next point…

Time Dilution

Time dilution occurs when the event spans additional, unconventional party hours, such as starting in the afternoon. This happens with:

  • Ambitious housewarming parties (<–)
  • Parties that start as a BBQ
  • Parties thrown by lonely people
  • Parties thrown by people with kids, or who have a lot of friends who have kids
  • Summer parties (I know it is summer year-round here in San Diego, but June-August months are just treated differently, you know?)
  • People who are really into day drinking

You’re just not going to see the people who leave early. It’s ok. They’re not your type of people, anyway.

Making An Appearance

The making an appearance factor has the same basic effect as time dilution, and of course occurs when the event or the attendance-base lends itself to briefer party visits. Either people are making their obligatory stopover before leaving to sleep/take care of kids/return to their lairs of introversion, or they are popular kids doing what popular kids do: party hop.

For example, take a look at this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.22.32 AM

What is this? More maybes than going?? What is the meaning of this anomaly?

The desperation index seems high, but actually what is going on here is that a popular person has invited his very popular friends and, oh, wow, they’ll make it if they can, they really hope so. Looks delightful, I so want to be there, xoxo.

Umm, eff yes I’m going. No, not to brush against popularity and hope it rubs off on me, but because attending an event where dynamic, gregarious people are coming and going as they make their Saturday-night rounds is a revolving door of delight for me.

Many of those 97 weren’t sure they could commit to even a maybe, or swiped yet another Facebook invite out of their mobile notifications, but still found the event when they were buzzing around town on party night looking for the next bit of excitement. And many of those 30 did, in fact, make their appearances.

My Weird Friends

This is why I’m writing this. I am all mixed up. When I throw parties with my best friends, at my house, the math just doesn’t work. Here’s what I see:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.25.07 AM

Desperation index makes sense. I’ve invited only my best friends. But actual attendance was somewhere around 30.

It seems like all goings go, and most maybes make it, and the rest of my weirdo friends who totally ignore their Facebooks somehow get the memo that there’s something happening tonight, come over.

Love you kids <3

Cases I haven’t Examined

Here are party-types I haven’t examined because I don’t friggin go to them:

  • Baby showers
  • Weddings
  • Fundraisers that are really fundraiser-y
  • Most board game nights
  • Movie nights
  • Video game nights
  • Gender-themed parties (such as “battle of the sexes” or pearl/tie parties) that aren’t awesomely queer and/or subversive

How to Find Your One True Friend

In a courtyard of an odd, multi-unit residential property (house and apartments) in Normal Heights, 30 or so people gathered on the flagstone, clipboards and drinks in hand. Periodically, one of them climbed a ladder to stand above the throng and announce pairs of names from a laptop computer, and a single question. The crowd swiftly reorganized and, nearly manic, shared their answers.

This gauntlet of extroversion lasted from 8pm sharp to midnight. Never before at a party had I connected with so many people so deeply, and, paradoxically, to find my one true friend. You see, we sought to answer the question:  “What if you could only have one platonic friend?” You could take on as many romantic partners and lovers as you want, sure, but pretend you only get one friend.

This whole party premise may just be a joke by and for polyamorous folk.

This whole party premise may just be a joke by and for polyamorous folk.

The event was called “Speed Friending,” and we referred this idea of our “one true friend” as our, “monoplatonic partner.” Much like in speed dating, we rated our time-limited interactions and organizers planned to use computer algorithms to crunch the numbers. (I’m told one organizer wrote the algorithm himself; if there is interest I’ll see if I can provide it.)  One of my friends potential monoplatonic partners disagreed with the premise of rating people he cared about with a number, and participated sans clipboard. “Really,” I had texted him, “the only ethical thing to do is burn all the ratings at the very end.”

For the questions, the organizers chose the 36 that are meant to make you fall in love. That is how I found telling someone that night a self-truism I’d carried with me for a long time, but not really ever voiced out loud, about whether I’d rather be rich or famous. (Seems like I’ve always thought I wanted to be rich, but everything I do seems more geared toward famous. Certainly not rich.) “So to answer the question, yes, I’d like to be famous. A famous writer.”

The rest of us, including myself, did submit the ratings after all. Blank ratings threw wildcards into the system, and some had to leave before data entry concluded and the results could be shared. I made a friendship bracelet while I waited. My monoplatonic friend, actually, was one of the people who left, and so I left that bracelet on a table. Someone seems to have picked it up when I wasn’t looking and, ostensibly, wears it now.

WHAT DAY IS IT?

What the heck sami? I got totally lost this week. Yesterday felt like wednesday and Tuesday felt like Friday. I felt super accomplished yesterday because I remembered to feed my snake and do my taxes. Yet, I forgot to put together my dad’s birthday present AND write in my blog.

Luckily I have some pretty great ideas for blog posts, so I’ll be able to get 2 done over the next week, whether that is one extra this weekend or not until Thursday, along with the regularly scheduled one Tuesday.

Here is a picture from Free Zoo to make it up to you — of a NEON FREAKING GREEN LIZARD!!!1!

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I forgot what day it was

Whoops! Yesterday happened and my blog post completely slipped my mind. Expect a make-up post no later than Thursday night.

Here is a picture of dumb cat in bathtub to make it up to you (I have no idea why he went in there; he seemed shocked that I was interrupting his.. process.)

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