Last week, my friend D. posted the following announcement on Facebook:
Today, I smash my goal of 21 days alcohol free. The next milestone is 100 days. I’ve got this!
Ever the supportive friend, I gave D. a thumbs up – maybe even a heart – and asked, “Are you missing it?” She assured me she was not, and I “liked” her reply, then moved on. It was happy hour and I was mindlessly scrolling with a glass of wine by my side . . .
About five minutes later, what should appear on my FB newsfeed but a promotional video for something called the “Happy Hour Survival Guide” – from a website called SoberSis – for people who want to stop drinking.
Now, I have nothing against people who want to stop drinking – I applaud them, in fact – but I am not among them. Not right now, anyway. Out of curiosity, I made the mistake of clicking the video and watching about 10 seconds of it, and now SoberSis is following me around Facebook every day. My first mistake, of course, was commenting on my friend’s post.
Who needs Big Brother when we’ve got Big Tech? It’s enough to drive a girl to drink!
Consider this funny FB post I saw on my sister’s page a few days ago:
Tip: if your preteen suddenly has a long overdue love for fashion, don’t get too excited about it. If she tells you a style she likes (example: “cottagecore”… “that’s one word, Mom”), don’t spend much time researching outfits on Pinterest. She will soon be annoyed that you like it too and if you refer to said word, she’ll make a snide comment like, “I need to stop teaching you words, Mom.”
A great conversation ensued, not just about the perils of parenting preteens – oy! – but about this term “cottagecore,” which was completely new to me. Some other mothers chimed in with pictures and descriptions of the aesthetic, and it struck me as a cross between “hippie” and “prairie.” I liked it! Especially for a young girl like my niece. “Cottagecore.” Who knew?
Well, a few minutes later, an ad appeared on my newsfeed featuring a beautiful (adult) model in a fantastic dress I’d have ordered in a heartbeat if it wasn’t from one of those fly-by-night websites that always turn out to be in China and end up taking 3 months to deliver your – often disappointing – merchandise. (Not that I’ve ever fallen prey to one of those. Me? Never!)
The ad copy read: The Mara dress sticks true to the feminine spirit of the Cottagecore trend…
Damn, Facebook. Got me again. Or did I get you?
Much like the Happy Hour Survival Guide, I had no intention of buying the Mara Dress. So there! You’re not as smart as you think you are, FB.
I recently became an “ambassador” for a company called BOOM by Cindy Joseph; it sells makeup and skin care products for women over 50. No, it’s not a paying gig… unless you count all the free makeup and skin care products they sent me – along with a tripod and light ring – to help me make videos and selfies for their social media campaigns. BOOM touts something called the “pro-age” philosophy, which encourages women to joyfully embrace the aging process instead of fighting it. It’s a philosophy that deeply resonates with me, which is why I auditioned to become a middle-aged “influencer” in the first place. It’s something I really care about, and I’m having great fun.
But. Because I’m regularly visiting the BOOM website and FB page, I am now being absolutely pummeled by makeup and skin care ads for “older women,” and not just by BOOM, but by every company out there. I can’t open Facebook without seeing another attractive, silver-haired woman – or three – applying moisturizer, mascara, or lip gloss. It’s becoming quite tiresome.
And guess what, Facebook? I’m not gonna buy any of it. Because I just got a bunch of free stuff from BOOM by Cindy Joseph, and it’s fabulous.
I almost enjoy playing these head games with Facebook, and Big Tech in general. Actually, I don’t so much enjoy it, or even do it on purpose, but it’s kind of satisfying to know they haven’t quite figured me out.
I’m a conundrum, I suppose. I subscribe to the New York Times and the Washington Post online… but also National Review and the Wall Street Journal. (Actually, a friend lets me use his log-in for the WSJ. But the point is, I read it. A lot.) On top of that, I’m a regular reader of the “alternative” thinkers at websites like UnHerd and Quillette. As a result of my unruly reading habits, I receive endless email – and even snail mail – from one extreme of our political landscape to the other.
Wanna know how the “radical left” plans to “destroy the country” through socialism? I can tell you! Wanna see the “Hate Map” from the Southern Poverty Law Center, featuring 940 hate groups all across America? I’ve got it. In full-color, frame-worthy print!
One thing that happens when you’re bombarded with messaging from both sides of the political spectrum is that you begin to find them both somewhat ridiculous. Mainly because you become increasingly aware of how utterly and completely they misunderstand each other, and it begins to feel almost willful. You begin to wonder if the right and the left are even remotely curious about each other in any genuine, practical way that might lead to healthy compromise and peaceful coexistence.
You become more and more convinced that, indeed, they are not.
And then you decide that you can either cry about it . . . or laugh. You can either keep trying – with all your heart, mind, and soul – to be the explainer, the peacemaker, the center that holds . . . or you can turn your attention elsewhere. And live.
One thing Facebook is still good for – really good – is providing amusing, insightful memes for every occasion and frame of mind. Last week, my sister posted this one on my page, saying it reminded her of me:
One minute you are young and cool, maybe even a little dangerous, and the next minute you are reading Amazon reviews of birdseed.
Of course, that bit of pithy perfection came not from Facebook but from somebody who knows and loves me. All the best things still do.