FAKECRACK, MICE, MATHBOOKS & MILLER
by Billee Sharp
Fakecrack. That’s my favorite nick-name for Facebook, although Wastebook, Facedrama and Hatebook also get some play. I’m disparaging about Zuckerberg’s social network mostly because it killed Ravedrama, a harmless little blog that lost it’s relevance when the communicative giant, FB, hit my online scene. For a while my FB networking was limited to a dear old gang of ten friends in London who I hadn’t heard from for nearly twenty years, then a few months later I had clicked up 400+ face-friends from anywhere and everywhere and a consuming status update habit. Actually I think that I have a status update disorder, where once I would take an idea and develop it into a couple of cogent paragraphs now I labor over the syntax of a single one-liner. I can no longer easily compose a simple blog post but potential updates run through my head all day long. I lament the joys of daily blogging which made me feel hopeful and productive as a writer (I finished stuff!) I also regret my empty email inbox, I rarely get a social missive at my gmail account unless somebody is making a big point of not using Facebook or my Dad is checking in.
My fellow blogetta and I migrated from Ravedrama to FB because that was where everybody was – our plan was to cull a few hundred fake-friends and then lead them back to Ravedrama. Sadly and predictably we became absorbed in endless network interactions: updating, commenting, “liking”, becoming fans, snooping, flirting, de-friending, viewing and updating again.
Perhaps Lady Greenfield, Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology at Oxford University is the Cassandra of our post-modern times: her dark predictions include warning us that social networking is infantilizing our social interactions and eroding our identities with meaningless fast-paced, instant screen reactions. Online socializing, so she says, is much less stressful than a real-time interaction; online we can pause and think of a clever comment or witty response, face-to-face conversation is much more perilous. Greenfield fears that we will lose our real-time skills like sensitivity to voice tone and body language and even our pleasurable cellular pheromone responses! Her grimmest analogy compares real-time conversation and online chat to the difference between butchering animals for sustenance and buying plastic wrapped meat in the supermarket! Greenfield probs hangs out with Aric Sigman whose research into online behavior shows a rise in cancer, obesity and depression in those who spend most of their time on the internets.
Personally the FB phenomenon reminds me of a theory of Terence McKenna’s concerning the uptake of novelty: Terence thought that novelty uptake is the engine that drives change in society. Certainly 500 million users (including the posthumous McKenna himself) makes FB
the ruling despot of social networks. The novelty of social networking is definitely proliferating and the petty barons, Twitter, Linkedin, Bebo etc. might yet rival the mighty FB. Back to Terence, social networking also reminds me of his ideas about a polyamorous human prehistory: he believed that tuning into the cosmic vibe with psilocybin was complemented with orgiastic community; a way of being together that we can no longer countenance in our society. FB gives the user that delicious sensation of belonging, of being connected both intimately and communally: especially when we wall-write and send a message to an individual that will be seen by many others, a great deal of whom we will probably never meet or know. A site like Chatroulette where anonymous players can see each other on screen and get to cyber wank or whatever else they please fits this orgy idea better than FB where photos are censored (don’t post any breastfeeding pics!) and risqué is “open relationship” or more coyly, “its complicated”…
Anyway, onto the mice. This last month has seen a concerted effort by local rodents to occupy a cosy spot underneath over oven. After some telltale dropping were spotted and some invisible scuttlings were heard I sat motionless at the kitchen table one night (fakecracking on the computer no doubt) and watched a Beatrix Potter tableau unfold. Four little furry varmints emerged from behind the stovetop and ran all over the countertops.
The next day I went out and purchased nearly a hundred bucks worth of traps: both humane and snap-style along with a battery of ultra-sonic plug-ins which emit a continuous bleep unbearable mice, gerbils and tarantulas!
My poor success rate in entrapments leads me to believe that twenty-first century mice are savvy about peanut butter laden death devices and are equally clued in to the humane versions, also they must be wearing earmuffs. The PETA site recommends stuffing steel wool into known entry points and liberal applications of peppermint oil. I swapped the decks with soap and generous libations of peppermint oil, I doused all surfaces, taped up cracks with duct tape and prayed to my household gods. Presumably I haven’t been making the appropriate offerings to my fickle deities because the squeakers merely moved on into the boys’ room looking for nub ends of sour gummy worms and the like. I then proceeded to manically deep-clean that uncharted territory. This overhaul had a disastrous consequence: I mislaid somebody’s very important math book. Despite the fact that the Advanced Algebra text is huge and will cost $70 to replace I couldn’t find it. I even rummaged through the trash and recycle bins to see if my exuberant tidying had gotten out of control, no dice. Eventually I extended my search to the basement where I found my copy of Henry Miller’s “ Big Sur and The Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch” wedged down the side of the washing machine. (I often read while trying to ground the washer during the spin cycle.)
I had ignored this book for years for despite loving Miller to excess, I immaturely thought that this memoir would be boring and rustic. Not so, Miller writes with a kind voice tempered by his age and experience as a traveler, father and artist. His vignettes of life in the middle of nowhere often mention the sporadic pleas that he penned to friends and supporters for funds and food parcels.
Would Henry have used Fakecrack to solicit for care packages? I like to think so.
Billee Sharp lives and fakecracks in San Francisco. Her book Fix it, Make it, Grow it, Bake it is out on Viva Editions on Earth Day, 2010.
“Facebook and Bebo risk ‘infantalising’ the human mind”, Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
“Well connected? The biological implications of social networking.” Aric Sigman, , Vol 56 No 1, Feb 2009
“Food of the Gods” Terence McKenna, Bantam Books 1992