So many people want me to like them, I feel as if I were back in high school or junior high. Thank God I’m not; once was enough.
This time around’s a little different though. Instead of being accosted in the hallowed halls of social education to vote from a limited ballot for Prom Queen or Homecoming King, I am approached at the gas station, or the carpet store, the pizza take-out, the shoe shop, the computer repairman.
“Like us on Facebook!” It was a Gas-n-Go quick stop in a town so small that the back half of the building, with the bathrooms, must have doubled as the community center, and it sold Thai food on the side. Considering that the main thing I associate with gas stations are reader boards with ever increasing prices, what on earth is there about this place that I could possibly like? And what does it post?
“Economy looking up? So are gas prices!”
“No job? That’s okay; you’ll drive less!”
“Deep fried gizzards tossed with Pad Thai noodles! Hot cocoa and a cookie on the side!!”
Everybody these days has a Facebook page, and while, as a writer and a business person I understand this (by the way, Like Middle Aged Plague on Facebook! And Like Steve Henderson Fine Art, too!), I simply don’t comprehend what the cement company has to say that is so important that I need to see them on my phone, regularly.
Just for fun, I visited the page of my favorite hamburger joint which posted . . . very little. It serves hamburgers, which I already knew, and somebody raved about a peanut butter peppermint shake.
On a roll with cynicism, I checked out my favorite grocery, which has been urging me to Like them for years (and I have, in real life), only to find that, amazingly, their Facebook page is fun, quirky, entertaining, and actually worth reading, probably because
1) they schedule cool events at this place and
2) they designate someone to keep the page up to date and
3) if they sell peanut butter peppermint shakes, they’re very quiet about it.
Okay, so I was wrong — like that doesn’t happen on a regular basis — and some of these businesses are truly worth following, but that still doesn’t mean I’ll be Liking the Gas-n-Go shop anytime soon.
Nor do I plan to follow any government pages — yes, there’s my university alma mater, whose Facebook page is more dull than their quarterly magazine, truly a feat of administrative panache — but the twice yearly mandatory trip to the county assessor’s office to pay state rent on land we bought and theoretically own outright is enough for me. I really don’t Like these people, even if they do put out a bowl of candy.
The Department of Homeland Security (more than 42,000 likes, surprisingly), the Transportation Security Administration (when I looked, they were in the Under-10 Club), the myriad of federal, state, and municipal regulatory agencies — while I am obligated to tolerate these people, it is highly unLikely that I will Like or Follow them.
And this is good. For the moment, Facebook, and its sibling social media sites, are filled with ordinary individual people and private businesses, a hodgepodge of grassroots humanity that is relatively uncontrolled and unregulated — although not necessarily unmonitored, untracked, and unwatched — and while diesel fuel and red curry do not go together in my mind, I’m glad that, for awhile at least, there is some venue where the market place and people’s thoughts run relatively free.