Farmer File

While trying to shed a few pounds these days, I also am trying to shed some of my crotchety ways when it comes to social media.

I’m not sure which is more difficult, the drudgery of seemingly endless stationery bike rides or the numbing process of jumping through hoops of hyperbole and the constant contact with heretofore strangers on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Worse, yet apparently mandatory, is the effort to learn the tortured languages used on these powerful tools of communication.  If, that is, “communication” mostly means randomly bumping into strangers who somehow expect us to instantly like or be friends with each other. Or even scarier, to follow them around. Or scariest, having them following me around cyberspace.

If the Rosetta Stone learn-a-foreign-language people could include a course in Facebookish or Twitterish, they’d make a fortune.  And if they would include a remedial course in Real English, in which words still mean what they meant six months ago, it would go viral. 

DARN, you see? And what about “hashtag?”  Is there an American person under 40who knows where that word originated? I think it’s from “hash mark”. a stripe on a uniform indicating status or years of service. But a Twitter hashtag means something else, maybe something that goes on the end of something else. I have no idea.

On Facebook, I was amazed how quickly I could “friend” or be “friended” by someone I don’t know.  By now I know how many cavities they have in their teeth.  I am flooded with photos of their top 10 favorite Starbucks locations in Toledo or their favorite remedy for their children’s pesky head lice problem.

I suspect that a lot of Facebookites are very nice people whom I might enjoy meeting in real life. But do I really need to know how close one guy came to flunking high school algebra? And do they need to be alerted to how clumsy I am at backgammon?

Every time I open my Facebook page, or site or wall or whatever, I get a message, “How’s it going, Don?”  That baffles me.

Who’s asking? Is it Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s creator? Surely not. He’s too busy thinking up new words for “Zillionaire.”

Is the questioner a “friend” in Facebook-speak? Is it a person I should Facebook ‘Like?’ Is it an intern at Facebook Intergalactic Headquarters, who drew the short straw today and has to ask every Facebooker who signs on how it’s going?

If it’s just a computer generated greeting, how do I answer? Should I use the robot-language font on my computer? If I say “please” or “thank you,” will the mystery messenger get that?  

Will it give me some smart aleck answer the way Siri sometimes does on my iPhone? I hate getting dissed by Siri, who sounds as though she has no heart and assumes that we who contact her have no brains.  So I think I’ll not reply to the “How’s it going” guy on Facebook. Or I could “poke” him. 

I looked up what “poke” means in Facebookish.

One source said it just sends a message to the person saying they’ve been poked and can poke back. Genius, that one. Probably the new sport replacing wrestling in the Olympics.

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