“Never try to keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level. It’s cheaper.” Quentin Crisp
Some time ago I heard some raving idiot on TV say that he was working on a computer program that could tell the user if he or she were under stress.
Well, somehow or other that program has appeared on my home computer, which now tells me if I am stressed then immediately acts up the way it is acting right now.
A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of sheer insanity, I endeavoured to get myself on to Facebook and was immediately sorry — what a fiasco!
As if I were writing an examination, I carefully answered the questions fired at me. As there are at least two other Peter Warlands out there in the ether, I cheated and invented another first name: Pedro.
I did give an honest e-mail address and then attempted to conjure up a password. The folk or machinery behind Facebook apparently didn’t like or understand any of my choices. It was like talking to a stump, as far as I could see, but without the sensible replies a person should get from an affable stump.
I decided to give up the whole stupid idea and go and do something sensible like wash the dishes. I was being offended rather than “friended” and so signed off, I think. Modelling themselves on ex-president Harry S. Truman, the folk at Facebook were following what I believe is their personal motto: if you can’t convince them, confuse them.
Anyway, I’d been assured that there are all sorts of fascinating things that a person can find out about folk on Facebook but, let’s face it, I don’t want to clutter up my mind with such trivialities.
I should have done the washing up, but I was snared, hook, line and sinker. Facebook came back at me the next time I went online. It asked me 1) for my password then, if I’d forgotten it, to 2) make one up. I threw up my hands (which is hard to do when you’re typing) in disgust and deleted the message.
This nonsense went on for days. I e-mailed my daughter for sympathy and help but, despite her reassuring reply (which unfortunately contained technical terms like ‘download’ and thus confused me), I received 10 copies of my son’s message welcoming me to Facebook, two from old friends overseas and one from each grand-daughter. I was being friended and I didn’t like it. As Oscar Wilde said, “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”
Then all sorts of strangers decided to ‘friend’ me, but I had no wish to talk to them. I had no desire to announce that I had moved my bowels that very day nor that my 13-year-old cat had finally given up the ghost, and that I am due soon for a lobotomy. I don’t wish to broadcast my (boring) everyday activities or read of other people’s even more tedious lives.
Years ago an editor gave me the title “curmudgeon” (gruff, irritable person, especially an elderly man) but, for a curmudgeon to indulge in the drivel on Facebook, would cause him to lose Face.
Nephews in Ontario greeted me next but, apparently because I hadn’t as yet sorted out my password, I couldn’t tell them to “buzz off,” or more suitable words to that effect.
Anyway, I was building up a head of steam, ready to pounce on anyone making a consoling or disparaging comment to me, when my son arrived and, in a few moments, managed to free me of the menace. Embarrassed, he then had to shrug off my tears of gratitude but, even now, I keep getting bleating little protests from the faceless folk at Facebook. Like naughty children pleading their innocence they cry, “Why have you forsaken us? What is it that we have done to offend you?”
Let’s face it, as far as I’m concerned, they can go up to their rooms or consoles or whatever and sulk ad nauseam.
Pedro Warland lives in Cranbrook