October 2009

About face

By David Feela

“By the time you reach the age of 35, you have the face you deserve.” - Everyone’s grandmother

Facebook is an Internet phenomenon but despite its popularity, I’m still reluctant to join.

Maybe it’s that old Groucho Marx sentiment, I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member. Or maybe it’s just my age. I did, after all, shoot black-and-white photos with my dad’s Brownie box camera and I still have a few prints in a cardboard box to prove it. None of them (so far as I know) have been digitalized and appear on the Internet.

I would, however, like to come clean about my face. I have a photo from 1979 that appeared in the original facebook, a U.S. Passport, and it still makes me cringe. In it I have shoulderlength hair and a scraggly beard. Back then I could easily have been victimized by facial profiling, restricted from leaving the country and traveling to England, because the authorities would have (incorrectly) concluded that I was a hippie, a troublemaker, and a risk to international relations everywhere.

My passport photo has been successfully kept under wraps now for 30 years. Sadly, privacy has had its day, and we live in a society where you can be photographed by security cameras a half-dozen times in the course of a trip to the supermarket, and you can receive a traffic violation in the mail issued by a photo cop, yet Facebook would have us believe we are connected to each other like charms on a bracelet. It seems to me we are connected to each other, but maybe more like voyeurs. It’s by mutual consent, of course, but who knows who’s watching.

When I first heard about sexting, I thought, Gee, I was worried about my mother showing my girlfriend one of my baby photos where I was nude, stretched out on a bath towel. Cell phones are so handy when it comes to capturing an image, it has become popular as a form of flashing, except these kids haven’t had the decency to wait until they are old and disgusting.

Now it’s protocol to invite others to join your network so everyone who vaguely remembers you can be connected like a string of Christmas lights. I must be the bulb that doesn’t Flickr. I appreciate the invitations. I always decline.

The way I see it, the graciousness of individuals is being used by technobusiness as a marketing strategy, not so different from the logic of a chain letter: send this to 10 friends and something wonderful will happen, like maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll be down by about 5 friends. I’ve even heard rumors of companies that won’t consider applications for e m p l o y m e n t unless you have at least, say, 50 twits on your Twitter list.

Old-fashioned networking used to depend on how many hands you shook. Now you can shake your iPhone.

Yeah, I guess I’m complaining, but if you want to join me, please complain on my blog at feelasophy. blogspot.com. There is nothing I hate more than somebody who whines about the way things used to be, but does it in person.

David Feela lives in rural Montezuma County, Colo.