With ‘friends’ like these …

Want a clear view of the state of the human species in this digital age?

Go to Facebook.

Then, scurry to the garage, start the car and put your mouth over the tailpipe.

We’re doomed. Why not be done with it, now? Why prolong the agony?

Soon, everyone will be on Facebook. The end is near.

I realize this as I stand swaying in a Metro car in Paris, making my way from a station near Pere Lachaise to the Pigalle stop. Nearly everyone in the car — and certainly everyone I see who seems younger than 30 — is focused on a smart phone. Most are perusing a social media site. The site of choice: Facebook. They’ve got the Pompidou nearby, the Louvre, the opera, the Musée d’Orsay, magnificent parks, bistros and obscure, ancient alleyways to wander … and they’re glued to “friends” on Facebook.

I stand behind a woman in a supermarket checkout line here in Siberia With a View. Her head is down, her eyes on the screen of her phone. I steal a peek. She is on Facebook. One of those execrable memes is on the screen and the woman chuckles (no doubt a simple, unanalyzed belief has been affirmed), then hacks out a wet, sell-me-a-pack of Marlboros cough. She continues to watch her screen as the checker runs goods over the scanner and, but for a reminder from the employee, she would miss the fact it is time to pay, and leave. She watches her screen as she exits the store, bumping into an elderly fellow on her way out. She growls at the feeble oldster. After all, he interrupted her Facebook visit.

Have you checked out Facebook? Have you hoovered up any of the litter that floats in this cyber space, like ash from a deadly fire?

We’re doomed. So why not be done with it, now? Why prolong the agony?

I read all sorts of self-congratulatory dreck about how social media are changing the human condition.

For sure, they’re doing that. Most times, though, not for the better.

When I connect with Facebook, I witness the ascendance of the mundane, the triumph of the insignificant observation and the narrow focus, a parade of all that is sub-average. True, there are some users who effectively manipulate the site to achieve business goals, but the rest of it …

We’re doomed. Why prolong the agony?

In this corner of the Internet, stupidity is projected as normal, in fact desirable. The gatekeepers are dead; there is no one left to halt the assault by the mediocre legion. The wall has been breached, the horde is gathering momentum. It will destroy us.

Here’s some questions for those who regularly frequent Facebook pages and other social media sites: Don’t you have anything better to do? Don’t you expect anything more of your fellow human beings? This is the best you can do to present yourself to the world?

As a social scientist of sorts, I visit Facebook on occasion, on my wife’s site (she, incidentally, is brilliant and captivating. I repeat: brilliant, captivating). I hurt myself when I do this; I am reduced to a quivering gelatinous mess by the experience — but I go there anyway. It is like a fatal car crash: I cannot avert my gaze.

What do I find?

”I have a toothache. I need to go to a dentist, but the kids need me at home.”

Oh, my: that’s critical to the evolution of the species. Tell us more.

“Me and the sweetheart are going for a bike ride. Life is glorious and perfect. Wish you could be here with me and the love of my life. We’re spectacular.”

Aha, someone is thinking about other women.

“Look at my kitty. Isn’t she cute? She is all I’ve got.”

“Listen to this song from 1967. It was really special back then, don’t you agree? Back when I imagined I was special, too.”

“I’m ‘editing’ a blog site and you need to take me seriously. Please, take me seriously. Really. I am important, and really smart. Really.”

“We are being overwhelmed by socialist negroes. One of them is our president, even though he is not an American. He is coming to take our guns and, since our ‘guns’ don’t work, these firearms are all we have.”

“Check out my kids, aren’t they cute? They are cute, don’t you think? Huh, don’t you?”

“I have a clear channel open to God. Let’s pray together. I know God, you don’t. Listen to me, and do what I say. Or else.”

“Beware! Everything on the Internet is true, unless the source is a liberal! Real patriots: listen to me! Believe me, I know! After all, John Adams and the Founding Fathers said so. If you don’t agree with me, you are a traitor. I’m holding a meeting Tuesday. Come. Bring your guns.”

“I am desperately lonely, stupid and frightened. Tell me you are the same.”

We’re doomed. Why not get it over, now? Why prolong the agony?

I go to Facebook, I get a headache — a piercing, alien-probe ache. The pain starts next to the amygdala and radiates from there.

Our species is in deep trouble. A frightening number of us now represent ourselves and what we believe with inane memes passed to us on the Internet by morons incapable of original thought. We are ciphers reduced to cartoons forwarded by partisan flacks, by web nits who do nothing all day but sit in front of computer screens, absorbing crap and returning the crap to the herd.

I read posts and I want to reply, complete the scene.

“America is lost. We (insert here: old, impotent retired guys, sitting at death’s door in front of computers, all day long) must rise up and take her back.”

By all means: mount your motorized carts, and charge.

“Raining here at home, next to the lake. Yahoo!”

Any lightning? Go out in a field and hold a metal rod above your head.

“Anyone who signs up before midnight qualifies for the special Coupon Challenge. A case of snack food can be yours.”

There are children starving in this world.

“The temp in the old home town was 75 degrees.”

A true accomplishment.

“We’re at the motel in Albuquerque and there are waffles at the breakfast bar.”

Give the chef a James Beard Award.

“So happy to pick up the kids for a weekend visit.”

If you were a full-time parent, you’d be waking them in their own beds, every day.

“Crissy at her cheerleader practice. 95 degrees! These kids are tough.”

Spartans all.

“Check this: Foreign boots on American soil, thanks to our socialist government.”

Check this: do you ever check anything?

“My hubby of 27 years; I love you Scotty.”

Keep it to yourself. And don’t call him “Scotty” in public.

“Look at these hand-painted greeting cards I made with Mom before I left for school.”

What’s up with the other students at the sheltered workshop?

“Happy anniversary, Bitsy and Todd. 27 years of bliss.”

It’s a miracle they haven’t smothered one another with pillows as they sleep.

We’re doomed.

This is one of the worst things that has happened to the human species. I see the Facebook folk in my mind’s eye, each alone in a darkened room, huddled before a glowing screen, clicking from one page and “friend” to another, thoroughly absorbed and substantially undernourished, one of a swarm of drones lured to an artificial flower. It is an idiot’s garden and more of us are being drawn through the gate each day, drooling, passive, compliant meat puppets.

While the flickering light from computer and phone screens exercises a narcotic effect on the viewer and the information, such as it is, satisfies a marginal set of standards, there is a tendency among the drones to ignore a critical fact: each of us has but a limited number of minutes left.

And this is how we spend them?

A growing number of pinheads are yanked this way and that by what they encounter on the Internet; they swallow everything they see there, seeking only that which reinforces the few notions they understand, communicating only with those whose limitations mirror their own.

The Internet grinds down what little true intellectual grist is in the mill and the weak powder that results contains a whiff of simple ideologies, the tang of trite sentiment, blather about the weather, laudatory comments about unaccomplished family members, and details about what kind of treat were enjoyed that day by a pet.

Speaking of treats, and food, let’s get to something important.

I’ve found very few recipes on Facebook, few pages from which I can obtain interesting culinary info. After all, that’s what the Internet is for, isn’t it?

I also find that, when the Facebook claw grips me, I tend to lose track of time. I miss meals, I get hungry. My blood sugar level plummets.

So, what to eat while I pursue these scientific explorations?

It has to be something I can hold in one hand while I use the other hand to scroll to new pages and posts.

It can’t be too sloppy, since I don’t want to gum up the keyboard.

A burrito?

No. I like my burrito smothered. Christmas, please.

A taco?

Nope, a truly fine taco contains ingredients that are wet and prone to escape.


Definitely not.

Stews, braises?

Too drippy.

It has to be a sandwich.

Can’t be my favorite, a croque madame: bechamel, ham, gooey cheese, egg yolk running all over the place. This classic demands a fork and total attention.

A massive hero is out. Too bulky.

This situation requires a roll, with a pocket cut in which to safely enfold ingredients. A pita will do, as well.

For my Facebook sandwich (or “sangwitch,” as we say it here in Siberia With a View), a bolillo roll.

Cut pocket in bolillo. Smear a slick of mayo inside pocket.

Protein? You bet. For my Facebook sangwitch: roasted chicken breast, thinly sliced at the supermarket deli, a goodly crumple stuffed in the roll. I might add a bit of thinly sliced ham as well.

Dairy? You bet. What’s a sangwitch without cheese? This choice makes a big difference. Medium cheddar? Swiss? No. Why? Because I intend to pop the roll into the microwave and warm it for 20 seconds or so. I opt for creamy Havarti; it will melt and glue the other ingredients together.

Hit the wave.

Mash ripe avocado, season it with salt and pepper; add a bit of finely minced shallot, a spritz of fresh lemon juice. Stuff avo in pocket and distribute evenly. Make it quick, there’s action online.

Eat while mousing my way on Facebook from one tissue-thin thought to another.

The food is critical; it keeps the psychosystem at a level that prevents me from acting on suicidal thoughts. There are, after all, plenty of these to be had during a trip to Facebook.

My research is producing some important insights.

I probably need to create a page to let my “friends” know.

This story was posted on July 18, 2013.