Your Face Here

Remember when Kanye West so obnoxiously interrupted/ruined Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards?

Overnight Kanye began popping up in all sorts of important moments throughout history… MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech… President Obama’s most recent State of the Union address… Steve Bartman’s infamous oops! incident during a MLB playoff game between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins in 2003 (I’m not still bitter or anything)… Neil Armstrong stepping foot on the moon… You get the picture.

Anyway… all of this is to say that the “Kanye West Internet Meme” phenomenon came to mind this morning after a casual viewing of updates on Facebook.

I was cruising down through the various postings of photos, updates, news stories, etc. when I discovered on at least four separate occasions some individuals who, like Kanye, can’t seem to resist inserting themselves into every, single, solitary bit of drama that may be occuring in another person’s life.

They are the same people every time and I can count on them (with stunning regularity) to get “involved” whenever something noteworthy within their community occurs. Be it death, trajedy, illness, a terrible accident or a social injustice… they will be there—like Kanye—to grab their bit of someone else’s spotlight.

Now, you may be asking… “If you find their behavior to be so vexing, Joanna, why don’t you just unfriend them?” And you would be absolutely, understandably and undeniably reasonable in asking such a question.

But I hedge in cutting them loose because I’m not too certain who has the bigger problem here. Is it the individuals who feel the need to ride other people’s coattails of misfortune? Or is it me… the one who finds them so annoying, so perplexing, so psychologically flawed and fascinating that I felt the need to compile this post?

I don’t know the answer… yet. And I don’t know whether or not my friend list will become shorter by half a dozen or so by tomorrow. But while I am mulling that over, I’ll leave you with this as I simply could not resist…


Me and My Minus-One

Everyone has their own philosophy when it comes to Facebook friending. Some are quite conservative with letting people into their virtual worlds, while others may “friend” every single person they met in the bar on any given night.

I believe I fall somewhere in the middle. I won’t friend everyone I meet or accept every friend request I get, but I am more liberal than many of my real life (RL) friends when it comes to “friending behavior.”

For example, if someone friends me and I don’t know them per say but we have a lot of friends in common, I usually accept. If I meet someone and we really seem to connect or they are someone I can see myself developing a RL friendship with, I will friend them.

From time to time, I get teased by my family or friends for having what they consider to be a large-ish number. I tell them it’s because I have lived and worked in several different states, and as a result, have met a lot of people from all over our 50 states with whom I wish to stay connected.

Now, I don’t think of my “number” of friends as a status symbol, personal affirmation of worth or a mark of my popularity in the world. So I don’t care WHAT the number is. But that doesn’t mean I don’t KNOW what it is. Exactly what it is. At any given time. Maybe there are some hidden, narcissistic implications in that, but I really don’t care. I’m not going to waste precious minutes with my therapist talking about “the number.”

Anyway… Over the years—since I know what the number is at any given time—I also know when I have been… (gasp)dumped. Perhaps some of you have also experienced this. I can’t be the only one who kinda keeps track. Right? Please tell me I’m not alone. You look at your friend list from time to time and notice that the number is smaller than before. It isn’t everyday and it is usually only by one or two at a time. But still you can’t help but ask yourself: “I wonder who the one-time-friend-turned-traitorous-@$$hole is who dumped me?”

I have never tried to find out. I am aware that there is an app for this. An app for seeking out the bastard who ditched me, casting me carelessly to the curb alongside the information superhighway and right into the roadside weeds of the world wide web. But I have never wanted to waste the energy trying to find out. I mean, the higher your number, the harder it would be ferret out the little $hit anyway. Not worth the effort. Not that I haven’t wondered who it was.

In recent months, however, I have quite serendipitously learned the identity of 3 of the perpetrators. The first was in just looking for the guy. He was an old (RL) friend of whom I decided I wanted to ask a question. I typed in his name and he was gone. Just gone. I checked my friend list and he was gone. I checked mutual friends’ lists and he was gone from there too. And YES, I did a little digging into the matter. Long story short, he dumped Facebook. And YES I suddenly felt a little bit better about myself and this particular minus-one.

The second one I like to call Teflon Travis (not his real name) because I had a notification that he had commented on something that I had previously commented on and whenever I clicked on it… I got bounced right back to my own homepage. I “bounced” myself a half a dozen times before I figured out that I’d just been dumped. Another check of the friend list confirmed my suspicions.

The third one was, to me, the most shocking of all. I was reading an old “note” I had written (much like a blog entry) because that was where I used to keep my writing before starting this page. And this person, I’ll call her Disappearing Delores, used to LOVE my writing (at least she said she did). She was always one of the first to comment and made such funny contributions. She and I would go back and forth with several “comments” to one another at the end of many of my notes.

So in this note that I was reviewing, I noticed that the old comments were ALL mine and there were NONE from her. Another quick check of the friend list (I was getting good at this) and yes… she was gone too. And my comments looked so sad and silly like I was having a conversation with an imaginary friend. I would start many of them: “Haha. How true! And you know, Delores… Blah. Blah. Blah.” I didn’t cry or anything. But yes, I wondered where she’d gone. She’s still on Facebook… I guess she just didn’t want to be my friend anymore. Bitch.

I wonder what I did to piss her off? I know that’s why I dump people… because they piss me off. And that’s pretty much the only reason. I wonder if the people I have dumped ever wondered why it is that I dumped them? I guess we’ll never know. All we dumpees can do is pick ourselves up out of the weeds, dust ourselves off and move on. Just us and our now-smaller number of “friends.”

I know what you’re thinking… Maybe it’s not such a bad idea for me to spend a few precious minutes with my therapist talking about “the number” after all.

Life by the Numbers

It begins and ends with a number. A dreadful sound shatters the stillness of my slumber and I open my eyes to see 3 green and glowing numbers looming ominously over my rapidly-dissolving dreams. 6:00 a.m.

In the midst of a heat wave, I turn on the news to channel 3 see how hot it is actually going to get today so I’ll know exactly how much or how little to wear. 95. With a heat index of 110.

Stumbling down the stairs to my non-air-conditioned main floor, I glance at the thermostat. It says 84. I say a curse word.

With great fear and trepidation I climb onto the scale before climbing into the shower to estimate the damages from my nephew’s 11th birthday celebration the night before. XXX lbs., XX.X BMI … these numbers are for my eyes only. But I do utter another curse word.

Sitting down with a 200-calorie breakfast comprised of 8 oz. of OJ and 8 oz. of cereal with 4 oz. of milk, I obsessively check the stats on my blog page. At 7:20 a.m., there have been 23 views, 2 comments and 9 referrals. 0 new subscriptions. On Facebook, I have 1 notification, 2 messages, 1 invitation to play FarmVille and 1 friend request. I accept the friend request. I have 664 friends. Nope… make that 663. Someone just dumped me. Somewhere in the distance I hear a muffled scream as my profile goes swoosh into the virtual trash can belonging to the loser who unfriended me.

Out the door with 20 minutes to spare, I have the misfortune of getting behind 2 of the slowest-moving utility vehicles you’ve ever seen. They are doing 35 in a 55. At this rate, I will be 10 minutes late. Eventually I pass them doing 85 (I imagine my speeding ticket will cost well over $100) and wind up behind 1 even-slower moving 18-wheeler carrying 3 steel coils on a 2-lane highway. I follow him for 4 miles at 45 MPH. Make that 15-minutes late.

The word count so far is 335. In case you’re curious. Though now that I’ve used more words to tell you that… it is higher.

Miraculously only 10 minutes late to work, I have 5 unread messages and 7 projects to complete before 5 p.m. As a graphic designer, my work day is infinitely full of numbers… dates, times, account numbers, quantities and measurements. Therefore, I will spare you the details of the bulk of my day.

At 12:00 noon I call Verizon Wireless to give them $112.68. There is $XXX.XX remaining in my bank account. I utter yet another curse word.

By 5:00 p.m., there are exactly 6 hours left in the day before bedtime. Another obsessive check of blog stats and Facebook: 71 views, 8 comments and 11 referrals. 1 new subscription. Facebook offers 3 notifications, 1 message, 0 friend requests. Dinner at 7, a 2-hour phone call starting at 8 and 1 hour of reading, watching TV, writing or painting my nails before the clock strikes 11. I must get at least 7 hours of sleep a night or I’ll be a hot, cranky mess the next day. Just ask my loved-ones.

Turn off the TV, check the thermostat… 86. Curse word. Lights out. 11:03 p.m.

I wrote this account (get it… account?) as an exercise when it occurred to me how much of my daily joy and pain is tied directly to NUMBERS. Why must we quantify our value based on hard numbers… from how much we weigh to how much we earn? From how many virtual “friends” we have to how many people visited or commented on our blog today? For 1 day I’d like to ignore these “values” … and derive my worth from that which cannot be counted. Who’s with me?