Category - Digest

Why I Got Off Facebook

It’s been almost a year since I deactivated my Facebook account (in June, 2021) – so I guess this is long overdue, but now that I have embarked on “My Dunbar Project I suppose a bit of retro-perspective is in order.

I stopped using Facebook for three reasons:

 1. Vanquishing the ‘Poke and Scroll.’  Anybody who has ever used social media recognizes the impulse:  you poke at the screen and scroll to the next thing, and the next thing, and all the things after that. Surely the next thing will satisfy the craving.  Sound familiar? This compulsive behavior is not a bug, it’s the whole fucking point of social media: to keep you on the platform.  Maybe others have better self-control, but it’s not a safe temptation for anybody who is even slightly OCD (and in the digital era, who is not?) – or recovering alcoholic types.

2. The environment is a toxic swamp.  Yes, services like Facebook have their merits, even if it’s often just an illusion of connection more than the real thing.  But much what passes for ‘conversation’ on Facebook quickly descends in to chaos and rage.  What’s the slogan, “if it enrages, it engages” (which brings us back to point #1 above).  The stated mission of Facebook is “a more open and connected world.”  But it’s actual purpose, it’s business model, is to keep people using the site and hoovering up as much personal data as possible and then capitalizing on that data.  Which brings us to reason #3:

3.  In the digital economy, we are all vassals and peasants: I’ve written about this before, and others have expressed it more eloquently than I ever will:

“when the service is free – then you are the product”

Every minute that we spend uploading ‘content’ – photos, posts, comments, replies – to social media, we are supplying our labor for free while unimaginable wealth rises to the top of the pyramid.  I suppose it was ever thus, wealth has always ascends in one form or another.  And sure, there are some who make their living plowing the digital fields of social media.  But as long as I’m one of the unpaid peasants, I’ll toil in my own non-remunerative fields, thank you very much.

That’s it in a nutshell.  And while I can say that I don’t miss the whole poke-and-scroll-enragement-feudal-environment, I do miss the occasional brush with people I actually care about.

If you might be one of those people, then please check out My Dunbar Project  and fill out the form.

And if you have any doubt about how pernicious this Neo Feudal Digital State is, then watch the entirety of this expose by John Oliver (April 10, 2022).  By all means keep posting and commenting, but don’t kid yourself what’s really going on:


 

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Hello…. What’s This?

And…. who are all you people?

For the past ten years or so, I have been using  MailChimp to send out an automated “Weekly Digest” of things I posted to my personal (i.e. vanity) website/blog, CohesionArts.com.

When I looked my MailChimp account recently, there were ~500 subscribers to the list.  I found about 150 obvious ‘bot’ subscribers.  After purging those I still have about 350 names on the list.

When I look through that list… I have no idea who most of the subscribers are.  And I suspect a lot of them are still bots.

I mention this for a couple of reasons.  First, I got off Facebook last year, and now I am making a genuine effort to find my tribe outside the feudal (and futile?) estates of ‘social’ media.

Hence the question… who are you people??

If you’re real, this might be a good time to identify yourself somehow.  Try sending message to this email address and I’ll make sure you’re added to the ‘Dunbar List‘ (no need to resubscribe if you’re already getting the automated emails).

The other thing that’s going on here is a rebranding.

I’ve dropped the “Cohesion Arts” domain and now everything has been relocated to IncorrigibleArts.com.

“CohesionArts” was something I came up with when I thought my then-future-ex-wife and I  were going to do photography projects together. Well, that never happened, and the marriage itself went the way of 50% of all marriages three years ago.

Besides, I’ve never been entirely coherent or cohesive (if you doubt that, read my second book).

But I’ve always been incorrigible.

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Look Up Ahead…

…there’s a hole in the clouds!

I think this has been the coldest winter I can remember since moving to Nashville… ohmigod, 28 years ago.

There hasn’t been much snow to speak of.  We had our one annual ‘winter precipitation’ event back in January, a few inches of snow that stayed on the ground for a couple of days until the sun came out.

What’s notable about this winter is just the daily temperatures seem lower than I recall.  I’m sorta thinking daily temps during these months are in the 30s and 40s.  This year it seems like the 20s and 30s, and often in the teens when I go out for my 2-3 miles ‘morning constitutional.

And this past week has been just one cold, grey day after another.  And that’s just when it wasn’t raining buckets.

I guess the good news is it has stayed warm enough that there hasn’t been any snow.  I know a lot of people like it when it snows.  I like it too… until I have to go somewhere.  It’s the mix of snow and travel that I find un-tempting. Of course that hasn’t been much of a problem over the past month, since I haven’t really had any place to go

Anyway… I went out this morning around 7:30 for a three-miler, and as I was walking across Lone Oak Drive about a half mile from my house, I saw the strangest damn thing: an actual patch of blue in the sky!

And whenever that happens, I immediately start thinking of this song by John Smith:

Look up ahead… there’s hole in the clouds.

And, hallelujah, it looks like we’ve got some sunshine to look forward to in the week ahead.

I hope I can find some place to go, it’s been too long since I’ve had the top down…

 

A Sunny Saturday

I made this picture of the studio in the back of my house last Saturday, February 19, 2002.

That might have been the last time anybody in these parts saw the sun.  It has been cold and grey, wet and dreary ever since.  Winter.

All of my websites have been offline for a week, thanks to GoDaddy.  It’s a long story .  The TL;dr version is: we tried to upgrade our sight, GoDaddy botched the transition and it took them a week to figure out how badly they’d fucked it up and fix it.

It’s fixed, so enjoy this week old memory of sunshine.

What She Said (***WFAT #63***)

I watched the first episode of HBO’s new show “The Gilded Age”  last night.  I’m not sure yet what I think of it.  It’s created by the same guy who created Downton Abbey, and I liked that, but one episode in this seems over the top and a bit fatuous.  I took a shine to Carrie Coon after The Leftovers and Fargo, but she seems wasted here in a role that is all about living in a ridiculously large house and wearing ridiculous dresses.  Granted this was the pilot episode, so maybe it gets more worthwhile from here, but the viewing was at least hearing this line.  I take a note these days whenever I see or hear the word “incorrigible.”  Every time somebody uses that word, this little demon gets his smile on 😈

My Fruit Stand Termination

Above: a portrait of the Silicon Slinger in Happier Times – ca. February, 2017

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Long story short:  on January 20, 2022, I was “terminated” from my job as a part-time product specialist for Apple, Inc. – after working for more than five years at their retail outlet in the Green Hills Mall in Nashville, TN. 

As the story that follows details, I was fired for the grievous, cardinal sin of… asking a customer for her phone number.  

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Snow Day: Jan 6, 2022

It’s been a minute…

Happy New Year?

We’re having quite the “winter precipitation” event here in Middle Tennessee today. It started snowing just as I was getting out of bed around 7AM… oops, no walk through the neighborhood this morning. If I don’t get out later, today could be the first time in a couple of years that I don’t “close the rings” in my Apple Watch fitness apps.

What is it about a ‘snow day’ that invites the mind to wander? Is it just the notion that ‘nobody is going anywhere for a couple of days…’ that tempts us to back away from the usual sense of duty and obligation and consider other possibilities? That’s how I’m feeling at the moment. There is nothing I really have to do so… what would I like to do.

And it seems that the first place I turned is the open “Post” window for this website that I’ve been casually maintaining for what seems like a decade now.

Also: perhaps not coincidentally, today is the first anniversary of the “High Water Mark of the Conlunacy.” – apparently the last essay of any consequence I posted here.

Furthermore: I turned 71 while y’all weren’t looking, so all the miracles contemplated when I turned 70 remain germane.

I went on a road trip in late October/early November. From Nashville to Quebec Canada with stops in Gettysburg PA (for the battlefield) and Cooperstown NY (for the Baseball Hall of Fame) on the way up, and stops in West Hartford CT and Philadelphia PA (for family) on the way back. I nailed the timing, the foliage pretty much looked like this the entire time:

Shenandoah Valley, VA

Of course I took lots of photos along the way, but, also of course, I haven’t quite figured out what to do with them. Maybe I’ll just post some at random over the weeks or months ahead. Or maybe not.

Then it dawns on me, I can put the images on the web in a “shared album” via the Apple Photos app. Wanna see where I went? I’ll have to come back over the weeks ahead and tell the stories that go with the pictures.

An any event, Buster was certainly glad to see me when I got home. She is sitting wedged between my thigh and the arm of the chair I’m sitting in as I type, but here she is when I got home from the trip back in November. She likes to ride around the house perched on my shoulder.

I know, I haven’t been doing the Daily Busters, I haven’t been doing the occasional “Wisdom From A Typewriter,” hell, I haven’t been doing much online at all – mostly because back in June I got my sorry ass off of Facebook and Instagram, which is where I posted all that stuff.

Now I guess I have to find some… strategy?… for posting stuff here with some regularity. Such are the sorts of thoughts that never make it past the “vague intention” phase of their formulation – and beg for some attention in the midst of a ‘snow day.’

In the meantime, I have assembled all The Daily Busters in a shared Photos album you can view on the Web via iCloud.

Click the link above or the image to see all The Daily Busters

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Having fully retreated from the toxic swamp of “social” media for the past six-plus months has altered my sense of ‘connection’ with the rest of the world – in ways that I am still hard pressed to make sense of.

On the one hand I rather miss the occasional – if ‘virtual – contact with people I care about.

On the other hand, I totally do not miss the obsessive ‘poke and scroll’ impulse or the subconscious desire for validation and gratification by inherent in “Like”s and comments. And I sure don’t miss being a peasant on Zuckerberg’s estate, tiling his digital fields for free while all the wealth goes to the Lord in his castle.

That’s about as much sense of the detachment as I can make for the moment.

In the months – years – prior to my “Zuckerberg Extraction”, I would often comment that I felt about Facebook (in particular) the way I felt about Scotch and vodka in the months/years before I finally stopped drinking. That was 34 years ago this past Thanksgiving. I wonder now, what was I like in that first year of sobriety? I think there may be parallels to what I’m feeling / experiencing now re: social media withdrawal. I don’t miss the reality of it so much as maybe I miss the idea of it, and even that passes with time.

But, still… what about the people I care about?

Who are they?

How do I stay in touch with them?

Do they want to stay in touch with me??

These are tougher questions to answer absent the casual association through the artificial mediation of something like Facebook.

But maybe I know where this is going, if I can muster the energy, focus, determination and consistency to get it there.

This vaguely forming concept of “analog social media” started during my road trip. I actually wrote and mailed a few postcards to people that I otherwise would have taken for granted would see my posts on Facebook. It was a much smaller potential audience, but as my friend Susan said when she got hers, “Postcards. What a great invention do you think they will catch on?”

Why the hell not?

So, I dunno, over the months ahead, I may pare down my bloated contacts database, find the 150 or so people I really want to keep in my life, and start sending them postcards – even if I’m not going anywhere.

Who knows, maybe some of them will send one back.

 

Where’s Buster?

Well, she’s not on Facebook or Instagram, that’s for darn sure.

Because I deactivated both of those accounts about six weeks ago.

I probably need to write some kind of essay about why I finally pulled the plug on those accounts (deactivated but not deleted), how the “poke-and-scroll” impulse was making me nutz, how the past year of pandemic-induced solitude had magnified that impulse at the same time it reset my internal clock, etc. etc.

It’s complicated, but I have to say that I really do feel a whole lot more coherent without those nagging temptations, and I don’t really miss the illusion of “social” contact at all.

Too many times over the past year, I have described my use of Facebook (in particular, social media in general) the same way that I felt about vodka and Scotch in the last couple of years before I quit drinking (in November of 1987; 34 years if I’m still breathing come Thanksgiving).

Now I have gone ‘cold turkey’ and that experience echoes: when I first quit drinking and started going to AA meetings, I told myself “I’ll give this 30 days…” At 30 days, I figured I could go 60, and somewhere between 60 and 90 days I became DDFL – your Designated Driver For Life.

It’s been about two months since I shut those accounts down, and it feels like it did between 60-90 days when I quit drinking – like I could be a social-media avoiding lifer.

If I had any ambition left, I would be making some kind of concerted effort to round up those Facebook friends that I really want to stay in touch with and encourage them to sign up for the “Weekly Digest” that I set up for this site years ago. Maybe I’ll get to that yet.

In the meantime, the one thing I did with any consistency over the past year was post frequent photos of my Covid Kitty, the gender-neutrally named female cat called “Buster.”

Some people who have asked about my Facebook disappearance tell me they miss the #DailyBuster (even tough the posts were not exactly daily). I haven’t made a lot of new pictures of her over the past couple of months, but I did make one this past Sunday, so… there it is, atop this post.

If you want more, sign up for the Digest. Maybe I’ll rename it “The Daily Buster” – regardless of the frequency, and keep posting picture of the cat here from time to time.