Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Where Are All The Cat Videos?

A friend lamented to me last week that her Facebook news feed has gotten heavy and depressing. Much like mine, hers is full of political rants that lead to angry, lengthy discussions, sad stories of varying degrees and causes, and sales pitches and solicitations. What happened to the good old days of scrolling through fun pictures, witty status updates, and cat videos? I miss all of that, and I don't even like cat videos. Well, except for Keyboard Cat. Everyone likes Keyboard Cat.

See? Don't you feel better? I long for the days when Facebook was all about mindless entertainment. I'm even (almost) starting to miss the endless bragging and exaggeration about how wonderful and perfect everyone's lives are--can we get back to those kinder, simpler times? 

In an effort to retake Facebook and maybe see some funny e-card posts again once in a while, I want to make an appeal to you, the Facebook masses: please stop.

Please stop with your political rants, rages, endorsements, and persuasions. No Facebook argument in the history of social media has ever actually changed anyone's mind about anything. Ever. Support your candidate of choice with your vote, your money, and your volunteer time, if you choose, but please don't make the rest of us keep reading your very impassioned status updates. 

Please stop posting sad, terrible news stories that you just happenstance across on the Internet. Or at least make sure they are a) true stories and b) timely. I don't need to waste time of my life reading about a young girl with a fictitious disease who is collecting money for a hot air balloon ride around the world...dated October of 2007. 

Please stop trying to hard to sell whatever it is you're selling. If every post contains a picture of you wearing your product's logo t-shirt, drinking from your product's logo tumbler, bragging about the earth shattering, unprecedented, "amazing" things your product does, the collective Facebook universe is begging you to stop. Or at least make a concerted effort to contribute other things besides "a great business opportunity" to change our lives and our wallets and our health and our appearance and our self esteem and our family dynamic. It's exhausting and kind of insulting.

I realize that we all have our different interests and the freedom to discuss anything our little hearts desire, but I really think we would all be a better, happier society if we could just agree to get back to the Facebook basics. If there is an absolute need to post about the state of politics, the puppy mill that was raided in Connecticut four years ago, and this protein shake that will give you a feeling of euphoria while simultaneously melting all the fat right off your body, maybe we can designate a day just for those important announcements? A local radio station here has "Tirade Tuesday"--a whole day just for listeners to call in and vent about anything that might be on their minds. It seems to work well, so maybe that's what we need for Facebook...and the rest of us will know to just avoid the site on that particular day at all costs, or enjoy all the work-from-home opportunities, product testimonials, and Trump and Hillary bashing that will ensue.

Some of you may suggest that there is a "block" option available that can make these undesirable posts go away, but let me assure you that this problem has become so rampant, if one were to block all the offenders, there wouldn't be very much (if anything left). As such, I think it's best to address the root of the problem rather than just pruning back the leaves. Call me a pragmatist.

What I'm saying is that the situation has become so desperate, I find myself wishing for pictures of that meal you're eating, status updates that tell me what the weather is like ("It's hot out there today!"), or something not-really-cute-or-funny-to-anyone-but-you that your kid has said or done. I'm challenging you; the next time you post something, please dutifully consider using one of these categories:

The humorous e-card:

The funny animal video:

The amusing status update:

*Sorry, I searched and searched and couldn't find an example. 
That alone should illustrate the problem at hand.*

I hope this discussion has helped provide some ideas and inspiration--and if not, at least it gives you two videos to keep you entertained for a brief stint. That's more than Facebook has had to offer in quite some time. I'll see you in my news feed--hopefully, with a picture of that dinner you made or a very creative and informative "Happy Wednesday!" Make me proud.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What Would Nancy Reagan Do?

I'm sure you have probably noticed at this point that the whole world has gone crazy. There's the Presidential election, which is the zaniest three-ring circus I've witnessed in quite some time, OJ is back in the news, and generally every other headline or news story is something gone awry. The television show 24 is coming back without Jack Bauer, Kanye is using Twitter to beg for money, and poor Sylvester Stallone was basically robbed of his Academy Award by a man who barely had a speaking part. And lest I forget: the SyFy network announced there will be a Sharknado 4. These are strange times we are living in--times that leave you scratching your head, confused, frustrated. Practically every time I leave my house, I end up wishing I had just stayed home with my dog instead.

Also in the news this past week, we lost an icon: former First Lady Nancy Reagan passed away at the age of 94 on Sunday. Seeing some of her memorable moments in the spotlight and hearing anecdotes from friends and family reminded me what a class act Mrs. Reagan was, and so as a coping mechanism for this world gone wild, I asked myself: what would Nancy do? And I came up with a few things that just might work in an effort to try and stay sane:

Mind your manners, as much for your sake as everyone else's. With everything else that is going on, you never know who might be one door slam or cut-in-line moment away from blowing a gasket. We could all use more please, thank you, and excuse me in our lives at this point. I feel quite certain that the woman who completely revamped the White House's china collection would agree that bad manners have the power to infuriate. (On this same subject, write thank you notes. Handwritten, on decent stationery, and most certainly not a text message. A text message thank you will only serve as a reminder to people never to do anything kind for you ever again.)

Wear something fabulous. Nancy Reagan earned her reputation as one of our most glamorous first ladies, favoring the color red as a pick-me-up, so much so that the color was known as Reagan red. A great outfit won't fix all the world's problems, but it's hard to put your best foot forward in a pair of Crocs. Take this picture of Reagan's inauguration in 1981:

Rosalynn Carter is the sad one in the homely brown ensemble, and then there's our girl Nancy, all decked out and looking fabulous. See what a difference a good outfit can make? I'm not saying Nancy's wardrobe helped bring down the Berlin wall, but I can't say it didn't, either.

Stop listening to Justin Bieber. This one may or may not be my own personal piece of advice, since I'm not sure Nancy Reagan even knew who the Biebs was, but clearly, his music hasn't done much to help him in the decent human being department, so let's just not take any chances with that drivel ourselves. The kid has had more misdemeanors lately than a school for wayward boys, and we don't need any more of those kind of shenanigans going around. I can say with an almost 100% degree of certainty that Nancy was not--and wouldn't want you to be--a Belieber.

Don't eat food that is very obviously trying to kill you. This includes basically any menu item at Hardee's, since their goal now seems to be to sell food that will make you forget all your troubles by way of an acute coronary malfunction. You can't feel good about yourself or any part of the world around you, much less contribute anything worthwhile, if you are trying to function after ingesting something like a Memphis Barbecue Burger (that would be a burger that also has pulled pork, barbecue sauce, cheese, and crispy onion straws--or as Hardee's has called it, using meat as a condiment for meat). Maybe Justin and Kanye are eating these things and it's responsible for their bad behavior. That's enough speculation to make me steer clear.

Nancy Reagan didn't only believe we should all say no to drugs, you may have gathered by her waif-like appearance that she also shunned unhealthy food. She and the President enjoyed broiled grapefruit for breakfast practically every morning for a reason. After all, you don't want to go spilling barbecue sauce-dowsed onion straws on your fabulous red outfit, do you? Just say no.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies far, far away. Forget all this keeping them close business--Mrs. Reagan insisted that she and her husband be surrounded only by loyal people with their best interests at heart. It seems like now might be a good time for the rest of us to implement that policy, too. We are living in stressful, chaotic times, so feel free to take a sanity break from high maintenance, high drama, self absorbed, stressful, chaotic people. Go for quality over quantity; wouldn't you rather have four quarters than a hundred pennies?

I don't see the insanity going away any time in the near future, but I'm planning on doing my best to keep the absurdity down to a minimum by channeling the "what would Nancy Reagan do?" philosophy. After all, her secret service code name wasn't Rainbow for nothing. So maybe put on a little Reagan red today, get out there, and politely tell all the lunatics to please and thank you get out of your way.