Wednesday, February 5, 2014

You Can't Spell Curmudgeon without OMG

If you are on Facebook, your wall has been bombarded over the last several days with messages that saidHere’s my Facebook movie. Find yours at ...”. My first instinct, which I unfortunately gave in to a bit, was to see this as just more Facebook spam, worthy of being mocked. Ultimately, I clicked on the link and saw my own movie, and, must admit that I found it touching. Later, I found myself wondering why I and others seem to feel the need to distance ourselves from activities of this kind, real and virtual, not just by ignoring them, but by proclaiming that we are above them.

I admit that, although I like kittens in real life, I have no interest in seeing pictures of them on my Facebook feed, even when posted by friends. Same goes for pictures of food, political rants, and any post that has “LOL” in it. Although my second favorite use for Facebook is having serious discussions about Jewish and social issues, I also post about my running, pictures and statuses about my kids that perhaps only I find cute, and funny or thoughtful pictures, articles and things that some might consider to be nonsense.

I was more than a little disturbed by some posts leading into the Super Bowl where the high road was claimed, by those who were not interested in the Super Bowl, as if somehow those who were, were less, I don't know, intelligent, sensitive or thoughtful. I invoked a phrase that I borrowed from my rebbe, Rabbi Mayer Schiller, that those who are tone deaf, should not criticize those who appreciate music. I might not appreciate rap (to put it mildly) but I can appreciate why someone might. OK, not really, but you know what I mean.

I will never change my profile for “Doppelganger Week”, but I understand why some people enjoy it. Although I don't always see the resemblance, I'm disturbed by those who think it's within the bounds of propriety to tell others that they are overestimating their looks (not in so many words, but with that implication). It's acceptable to sit out a dance, but not not to scorn the dancers, especially if you are criticizing their appearance, or, in truth, something even deeper.

I rarely laugh out loud, so I rarely write “LOL”. I'm sometimes amazed by things but usually without saying “oh my God” so I never write OMG, with or without twelve exclamation points. On the other hand, after years of thinking I would never do so, I do use acronyms for shorthand, out of laziness or to appear, as, I believe, young people say today, more hip. Or is it groovy? In any case, I do commit to never laugh any body parts off, or at least not to admit to it publicly, especially on Instagram, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Which brings me to my favorite use for Facebook. For me, it's about connecting with people, some whom I know in real life and others only virtually. More than a few times I've received comfort from the kind words of someone whom I have never actually met. I've made new running buddies, interacted with some amazingly intelligent and thought out people, and changed my opinion on issues of various kinds when the weakness of my argument has been pointed out. Yes, I can get a bit self-righteous, write things that are only worthy of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, or forget there's another real person with whom I am interacting, but I can also help introduce somebody to a great young writer, make someone smile or even laugh out loud, or just let them know that I care. So if watching ballet means more to you than watching the big game or you think only saps and emos make Facebook movies, that's fine. Just keep it to yourself. Your little joke or sarcastic dig might be hurtful to someone who finds these things to be meaningful. Kindness, even when expressed through silence, can go a long way.

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