What Does “I Like It” Mean?

Look…I work in website design.  I understand “social media” as much as any socially incompetent, RPG-playing, XKCD-following, yes-I-have-a-Spock-fetish girl can possibly be expected to.  But, can we be honest here?  I am flummoxed by the ‘I like it” phenomenon.

I think we can blame Facebook for this one, but it’s spawned well beyond the realms of that bubonic plague of a website.  The “tell me you like this” plea is everywhere, and I have no idea what I am supposed to do with it.  The words do not mean what they would otherwise seem to mean.  In the case of Stumbleupon, especially, a “like” will alter my future stumbling experience, it will also ensure that a site shows up on my “liked” list for anyone to see.  But whether I actually Liked it or not (as an emotional response, you understand) is only one tiny part of the equation.  What would Amy Vanderbilt do? *

So, can anyone answer me this question:

It’s late at night, you’ve had a few whiskeys, and you’re hitting Stumble.  As you do.  You find a site that’s so damned wrong that you want everyone else you know to know how wrong it is…do you say “I like it”, just so you can point it out to your friends/associates/random people you only sort of know, with the full realization that you’re saying you like something you actually hate?

Or how ’bout this one:

You find a website that makes you laugh, but you know that you are a bad, bad person for laughing.  Do you “like” that?

“Liking” things is a complicated process these days, much like “friending” someone used to be (I solved that by not friending anyone, anymore…it’s confusing enough to decide what “friends” are in real life, I can’t be bothered with Internet definitions).  What you “like” becomes associated with you forever, and there’s no way of setting parameters around how and why you “liked” something, or what that “I like it” actually meant.  We need more subtle definitions.

May I propose a few clarifying alternatives:

I don’t really like this, but I want other people to see it to see how much I don’t like it.

I feel guilty for laughing at this, so understand I know I’m an asshole.

Someone I like sent me this, so I’d feel bad if I didn’t at least acknowledge the friendship by saying “I like it”, too.

I actually like this a lot, but I feel cheesy for liking it, so understand I like it with irony attached.

I probably won’t like this tomorrow, but tonight I’m too drunk/tired/high on life to be discerning.

I’m only liking this so I can find it later (and I can’t be bothered organizing my fifty thousand bookmarks, so I’d never find it there).

In comparison to the last fifteen things I just saw on the internet, this suddenly seems pretty damned good.

All I’m saying is “thumbs up” / “thumbs down” is not the height of human expression.  Maybe we need a little more subtlety.

*Note: It may seem weird that I’m bringing A.V. into this.  If so, you were clearly not the kind of kid who realized at the cusp of puberty that you apparently did not get the “social nuances” of those around you and felt the need to consult an expert on how to get along in the world.  I read that book cover to cover three times.  I know what a shrimp fork looks like and where you put it on the table.   I still don’t know what to say at dinner, though.

RE: Divorce Agreement

I just received a forwarded email (copied in the first comment) from a representative of Conservative America, offering terms of settlement for divorce.  As it came to me, I reckon I am a fit delegate to respond to the offer.  My response is as follows:

Dear American Conservatives, righties, social retardists, despots, fascists, and Palin supporters, et al:

I have to say I was relieved to receive your email.  As you say, we have stuck together for years for the children, but given the obvious fact that the children are growing up and are able to make their own life choices, it’s clearly time we ended the game.  I’m in complete agreement that it’s far past time we stopped pretending to be on the same side, and I’m glad that for once you appear to be willing to talk on the level and come to a reasonable agreement.

I appreciate the fact that you clearly understand me well enough to offer some terms you feel I can not only accept, but even be happy with.  However, if this split is truly to happen on equitable terms, I have to clarify a few points.  I’m sure you will find my requests not only reasonable, but every bit as understanding and acceptable as those you have offered me.

Clearly, the dividing of assets is a necessary, but uncomfortable, part of any separation.  When it comes to actual landmass I can see that the argument could devolve to pettiness, but I think we can both be mature enough to realize that in actual fact, we rarely want the same things.  So I’ll take California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington D.C., New York, Rhode Island, and Maryland…the states where same sex marriage is at least recognized (yes, I remember Proposition 8, but we both know it isn’t going to last (edit: told you).  I’ll also take Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, as along with California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maryland, they are the top solar producers.  I’d also like Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, and Iowa, as they are the top wind power producers in the country.  It only seems fair, since you are generously gifting me the alternative energy and hoping that fossil fuels are going to work out for you.  That’s 23 states, and to even it out completely, I think I should have Washington state and Oregon, as everyone knows they like me more than you.  Oh, and I’m going to have to ask for western North Carolina, or at least Asheville, as I live there and everyone I know in town pretty much hates you.

I’m going to be honest, here, and admit that I know Texas will be a bit of a wrench for you.  But, considering the Gulf War (which I know you intend to continue) and all the oil you can siphon out of the area around the BP oil spill, I’m sure you can see that it’s really a fair split.

Once that’s settled (and I think you can hardly disagree with my logic, so that should be simple), we can move on to dividing up the rest of our assets.

I’m happy to keep the redistributive taxes, though I hardly think we’ll need them once you’re gone.  I do understand that you will be taking at least 80% of the wealth in the nation with you, but I don’t think we’ll miss it.  After all, once you’re gone we can cure cancer and other congenital diseases, as well as make major advances in alternative energy, space exploration, and other sciences, so taking a long range view I’m figuring we’ll do OK.  Just as a side note, I think I should get to keep The Internet.  I know it was your kids who started it, but you have to admit it’s been our baby for a long time, and if you really had any invested interest in it Wikipedia and Opensecrets.org wouldn’t exist.  After all, it’s just a bunch of perverts and conspiracy theorists, why would you want it, anyway?

I’m happy to take the liberal judges and the ACLU, you can have the KKK, the white supremacists, the Christian fundamentalists, and Wall Street.  You can have your guns and war, but you must also take every single person who has ever participated at a Tough Man contest, the professional wrestlers, and Nascar.  All of it.  You also can keep Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Mel Gibson.  Quite honestly, I have no idea how you’re going to afford their medical bills, as I anticipate that drugs will be rather expensive over there, but I guess that’s really your problem, isn’t it?

Happy for you to have the pharmaceutical companies and Wal-Mart, we’ll take the public universities, NPR, and alternative press.  By all means keep the Alaskan hockey moms and greedy CEO’s, and you can have the rednecks but the country folk are ours.  Actually, I think we can make this even simpler: we keep art, education, and research, and you can keep religion and the military industrial complex.  I know we’ve always disagreed about the importance of these things, so you take yours and I’ll take mine and let the best man win.

Happy to take peace with Iran and Palestine, and you go ahead and fight them until you’re blue in the face.  Not stepping in to save your economy, though, you’ll have to go a little more in hock to China for that.  Speaking of which, you take the debts.  It was your missile habit that got us there in the first place, I don’t think I should have to pay for it.

In exchange, I’ll take on the U.N. bill, but if I’m paying for it that means I get the seat on the Security Council.  You can take as many “Judeo-Christian values” as you can muster, but I get the ones who want to turn the other cheek.  I’ll take the rest of the religions, though, as well as those who don’t espouse one.  It’s that Freedom of Religion thing that I always wanted to try.  You remember the one.

By all means take the gas guzzlers.  But in exchange, I get Detroit.  You screwed the pooch on that one, and I hear some folks there have some pretty interesting ideas that I’d like to support.

As to music, you can have “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The National Anthem” (it’s called “The Star Spangled Banner”, by the way, but no one can sing it, anyway).  We’ll take all The Beatles, as well as punk rock, the blues, most rock and roll, and The Dixie Chicks.  You can have pop.

You can have the part of our history which you directed.  The loyalists during the Revolutionary War, every avowedly conservative President, McCarthyism, Japanese Internment, racism, sexism, etc.  We’ll keep the progressive bits, and I’m sorry to tell you that will include the Founding Fathers.

As to the flag, I propose a compromise:
 
You can keep the stripes, and we’ll hang on to the stars.

Sincerely,

Celestina Adams

Profligate and Heretic

What Does The GOP Stand To Gain?

Fuckin' Boom. Photo by Mogmismo.

In the last few days, there has been a rash of reports commenting on the Republican Party’s apparent embrace of violent terminology. You can read about it lots of places, but in case you somehow missed it, here’s an example.

So there appears to be a trend, not necessarily amongst all Republicans (I still like to dream that there are a few fiscal conservatives cowering beneath the onslaught of Moral Imperatives Activists and Obama Is A Fascist lunatics), but certainly amongst some of their most prominent and loud-mouthed representatives. And the contingent of the blogosphere which likes to think of itself as Sensibly Liberal has made the predictable response: they’ve gone into mama-next-door mode and begun worrying about the future of the neighborhood. They’re concerned, and perhaps rightfully so, that one of these days some teabagger out there somewhere is going to stop throwing bricks through windows and pick up a gun.

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Growing Into Wonder

I hate surprises. It doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad, I prefer to know what is coming at me, so I can prepare myself to make the best of it or decide in advance whether fight or flight is the better option. I have known in advance what I was getting for my birthday since I was 12. I know that this would seem to indicate a stolid nature devoid of any sense of adventure, though I think few people would describe me that way. The thing about surprises is that they tend, in our complicated culture, to be the quick and dirty substitute for something far more meaningful and important: wonder.

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Open Letter To MoveOn

Dear MoveOn,

A year and a half ago, you asked me to choose which Presidential candidate MoveOn, as an organization representative of my beliefs, should support and promote. I chose Barack Obama, as did many other MoveOn members. So many, in fact, that he received your endorsement for the Presidency; support which undoubtedly had a significant influence on the election results of 2008. Barack Obama is now President, thanks to our hard work.

And the country has yet to see the Change and Hope upon which he based his platform.

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Something You Need To Know

I know there are a million issues we all worry about every day. It gets hard to decide where to put your time and money (if you have it to spare). Should you rescue the whales or the cheetahs? Should you support organizations fighting for your rights or the rights of others, folks overseas whom you will never meet but whose eyes gaze pleadingly out at you from the t.v. and magazines, telling you that just $15 a month could feed their entire family? The last thing you need is to hear about another noble cause that you might or might not have the energy and money left to help.

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People of the World: Please Stop

Yesterday I found myself explaining a curious thing to my son. He was wondering why H.P. Lovecraft wasn’t the most famous horror-writer ever, and I explained that he was a little too “out there” to ever garner a larger readership, until recently (admittedly, I suspect his readership is still not huge, but it’s growing). My son asked me why more people were reading him now. And so I told the tale of How Geeks Took Over The World.

Long ago, I told my son, when I was growing up, Geeks were forced to desperately cling to the lowest rung of the social strata.  “Really?” my son asked, horror showing plainly on his face.   Yes my love, I told him, it was a very hard time to be a Geek.  And I reminded him of several nightmarish episodes from my youth.  I then proceeded to explain to him how we took over.  How, with the advent of the Internet and computer games, suddenly we were the ones holding the keys to the kingdom.  You see, I continued, no one but the Geeks had ever bothered to learn how to write computer programs or play with hardware.  And so they found themselves coming to Us.

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A Quick Word On Burkhas

OK…so I’m a bit drunk. But tonight’s surfing brought me to a story of some girl who got arrested for her “too revealing” prom dress, and then an assortment of Hollywood “gaffes” wherein some starlet or other showed too much nipple, and finally I was compelled to do a search for “men burkhas” which, I can tell you, turned up no men in burkhas. So I just wonder:

1) How come it’s crazy when Middle Eastern religions say women have to cover up, but it’s OK when we do it here? It’s because it’s different bits, isn’t it?
2) How come Western culture is so sexually promiscuous, and yet a nipple is still headlining news?
3) How come anyone still cares about Britney Spears? [Note: you must follow above pattern of searches to understand this question]
4) Why does a search for men in burkhas turn up mostly naked women?

Perhaps they are not deep questions, but I sort of think they are.

Sex Education Should Begin At Birth

One might think that in an evolved, educated, first-world nation, the issue of “sex ed” would have been settled long ago. After all, what could be more important than teaching children about their own bodies, and encouraging each individual to make responsible choices when it comes to reproduction? And yet, the debate continues to rage, in our homes and schools and on the national stage. How much information is too much? Does sex ed encourage children to have sex? Should we teach them about birth control? And recently the debate has extended to include the question “When do we start?”
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Elevenish Ways To Kill A Peep

So, it’s Easter/Ostara/Spring Equinox/whateveryoucallit, and as usual the stores are full of symbolic representations of our gratitude for new life. Pastels, chocolate eggs, and the persistent Peeps. Yes, the gooey marshmallow “treats” which line up in their neat little rows behind their cellophane windows to peer blankly out into the world through their vacant eyes. They practically beg to be abused, with their conformist attitudes, insubstantial nature, and misprinted features. And, inspired by this effort, my family and I decided to accommodate their blatantly masochistic inclinations. Thus, the afternoon before Easter, we invested $2 in two packs of the “bunny” variety of Peeps, and proceeded to destroy them in the most creative ways we could imagine. What follows is a record of our efforts.

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