Jon Dawson: Toe wrestling, social media and pasta
File photo provided by Federal Bureau of Investigation
Does anyone here long for the good old days when no one really knew anything about anyone else? Unless you were J. Edgar Hoover or lived in an area with a party-line phone system, by default everyone sort-of minded their own business.
Like television, social media is a 50/50 proposition when it comes to positives vs. negatives. For every illuminating news article, undiscovered musician or brilliant movie that's discovered via social media, there's a divisive political post, unfounded accusation or vulgar dissertation waiting around the corner.
I've heard stories of a time when people living in small communities had to share phone lines. This meant your neighbor could pick up the phone and listen to your conversation. One woman in the Bucklesberry community - we'll call her "Violet" - was notorious for either tying up the lines for an hour or picking up the phone to eavesdrop on her neighbor’s calls.
If I'd been alive during this time and heard the phone click when Violet picked up, hopefully, I'd have been quick enough to improvise something along these lines:
"Did you hear what happened to Violet? She got all lit up on giggle water and accidentally made a batch of biscuits out of Ajax! I sure hate it for her family, because you know she's too tight to throw them out."
I believe a great role model for today's youth would be the fictional Lt. Martin Castillo, played by Edward James Olmos on the iconic 1980s television drama "Miami Vice". Over the course of five seasons, we found out very little about Lt. Castillo. His desk wasn't cluttered with pictures, piles of paper and empty coffee cups, only a phone and the occasional bottle of aspirin. He showed no visible signs of a social life, and he only had one facial expression.
If Lt. Castillo had a Facebook account, his About Me section would have been simply "No."
I admit some of those Snapchat posts wherein people use an app to alter their face and voice to resemble Alvin and The Chipmunks on helium can be funny. I even gave in a month ago and posted a photo of a fantastic meal The Wife and I enjoyed while on vacation.
I’d love to give the restaurant a plug, but it would be unethical for me to promote Swansboro Food & Beverage Co., as it might encourage them to thank me in the form of a gift certificate for a free meal. If they wanted to do that, they could send it to the Neuse News, attention J. Dawson, 105 W Blount St, Kinston, N.C, 28501 but again, we’re not allowed to do that sort of thing.
What we as a species need to work on are the all-too-personal posts that transmit information to the masses that should be reserved for clergy, trained psychological professionals or the poor soul stuck next to you on a Greyhound bus headed to Daytona for the World Toe Wrestling Championship.
To help out, I've compiled a list of common social media posts and whether or not they acceptable:
Photo of your child's graduation from kindergarten - Acceptable
Photo of your child's project from earwax sculpting camp - Not acceptable
Re-posting something you've read from beginning to end because you think some may find it interesting/helpful - Acceptable
Re-posting something based solely on the headline without reading the content - Not acceptable
Photo of a record-setting 29lb bass you caught while on vacation - Acceptable
Photo of a rash of indeterminate origin you caught while on vacation - Not acceptable
Good-natured ribbing of a friend when your favorite sports team defeats your friend's favorite sports team - Acceptable
Rampaging diatribe (written in all-caps) berating your friend's team as if your chosen group of millionaire's who are good at throwing a ball around just stormed Normandy - Not acceptable
Photo of progress made from a recent medical setback that may inspire others - Acceptable
Graphic photo of a medical condition that would scare a Civil War field surgeon up a tree - Not acceptable
Photo of you and your friends having a good time at a concert or sporting event - Acceptable
Selfie you took while making that stomach-churning "duck face" - Not acceptable/should be deemed a misdemeanor
As someone who makes a sliver of his living through writing and music, I, of course, have social media accounts. With a weekly column (soon to be two) and three albums in the works, you can bet your sweet schnoinkel I'll be using social media campaigns to get the word out. While we're at it, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. My face and voice are already deranged enough without the need for Snapchat.
The trick is to drown out all the noise, as nowadays it's impossible to post a photo of a glass of lemonade without sparking a political debate. Just a few days ago a fellow musician's patriotism was called into question because he was photographed playing a guitar made in Britain. I wonder what the odds are that the person who made the accusation did so via a phone or computer manufactured outside the United States?
In a world where one is subjected to dunderpates, ninnies, clods, dolts, dullards and nincompoops all day, there is nothing like blocking a few dozen people on social media to take the edge off.
Someday, some kid genius will develop an app that will block all political posts on social media. Until that day comes, just poke a hole in a sheet of notebook paper and carefully eyeball the internet as if it were an eclipse - beautiful but dangerous.
Jon Dawson’s humor columns are published weekly by Neuse News. Contact Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.jondawson.com.