Archive for September, 2009

A Middle Class Healthcare Story

September 23, 2009



September 6, 2009


It had to come to this. Facebook and its cousins across the Internet have sucked many of us into its grasp like so much dust trapped in a vacuum cleaner bag.  It has become, for many — this communication addict included — the heroin of social correspondence.

In review of my postings since I began Facebooking last spring, I see that I have enlightened my Facebook Friends with such drivel as “Cutting the grass” or “So much work to do.”  Not that all I have posted is self-absorbed minutia, but it is beneath a writer-for-a-living to spend precious time or creativity typing these briefs to the dozens of “friends” who are willing to not delete me from their rosters of friends.

This all occurs to me after seeing a commercial in which the dad, about my age, Twitters to his Followers that “I am sitting on the porch.”  His son, about my daughter’s age and standing right next to him, says into his dad’s ear, “I know you are sitting on the porch.”

Still, it had not sunken in until I read a series of postings exchanged by FB buddies Tom, Chris and Kenny. First Tom, with a comment about insurance companies being the devil of health care.  Then Chris, who parodies the majority of FB postings by asking Tom to dumb it down for the sake of community.  Soon Kenny chimes in to remark about the alarms sounded among FB parents when one of their infants is running a fever or discharging something green from a body cavity.

“For the sake of community,” as Chris suggests, I feel it my duty to recommend some new Facebook Applications and alternative readings.  First, why reinvent the wheel?  Let’s steal the closing bit from the Morning Joe news show on MSNBC and enter our final postings of the day under the acronym WILT – What I Learned Today.   With WILT, one of us might actually inform our FB friends of something useful. For example, I learned a useful health fact today from Kenny’s comment on the Facebook fervor posted by parents when their infant runs a fever of 101.3 or more. This is good to know.  I have a couple of grand-nieces in the area who stop by now and then, so I would be wiser to know the tipping point for fever alarms.  101.3 sounds like it might be the cutoff temperature.

I am thankful it is not 101.5, which is the frequency of a local FM radio station here.  It is difficult enough for me to differentiate among my seventeen-year-old’s musical preferences [99.5, 101.5, 107.3] without having to worry if she’s talking about her radio tuner or cousin-baby Callie’s Basil Thermometer reading.

The real threat and problem with Facebook and other social platforms is their universality and permanence.  Bob McDonnell could see his poll numbers shrink in Virginia’s governor’s race now that the thesis he wrote in the 80s has surfaced.  So I can bet that Bob and his counterpart Creigh Deeds have assigned their best and brightest aides to delete every Tweet and Facebook posting on their campaign pages that does not espouse the benefits of mom and apple pie; with the pie being made from locally-grown apples only.

We’re all being watched.  I was recently quoted by a caller who cited, verbatim, an email exchange between me and a public official in the area, thanks to FOIA – Freedom of Information Act.  Neither the official nor I had anything to hide, but it is disconcerting for a third party to read you your email.

Not only are we being watched, we are being numbed – if we are not careful – into exactly the sort of dumbing down that Chris has warned us of.  On Facebook alone, you can ignore the health care debate and focus instead on discovering which Grateful Dead song best epitomizes you or how you’ll fare in the competition of Mafia Wars.

Certainly intended for entertainment and not at all harmful in small doses, these applications do fill up good FB space and can be annoying in the aggregate when you have to scroll past so many such postings.  At least there is the HIDE button you can click on to eliminate these “games” without deleting your friends who you so tolerantly accept play them.

Most serious to me is, again, the “gotcha” element of FB and other social media.  You can be read out of context, misinterpreted, or simply have a bad moment when you post something you probably wouldn’t have posted had you not just returned from following up on your earlier post of, “Hooray for Friday! Time to party till the credit card maxes out!”  Or other such drivel.  My personal big fear is the day some investigative blogger, i.e. hacker, digs up the megabyte revealing how I answered that age-old career-crushing question: “When’s the last time you kicked the dog?”  

Well, gotta go.  Time to cut the grass and crack open an ice cold PBR.


PS – just to be fair, let’s give props to Facebook for all the friends and family members we keep in touch with and whose photo albums and video uploads we enjoy on their pages; it really helps connect us. It’s just that sometimes it gets trivial and sophomoric. Mea culpa to that.

Guilt posting

September 5, 2009

It’s September 5, 2009 and I have not blogged since June 17th.  No one has complained but I feel guilty of blog neglect.  No one has asked me “What’s up with your no-blog in months?”, which is humbling. So I’m blogging, rather extemporaneously, just to get the guilt monkey off my back and begin to get my groove back… So, what do I want to say? …

Procrastination has taken over the blogosphere of my life like so much kudzu on the trees.  Procrastination has always been my uninvited co-conspirator and party crasher. We are like a tag-team in fake wrestling or a pair in acrobatic gymnastics.  “The Pro-Crastinators” lead the league in putting things off, and I’m the league’s leading hitter.

And I wonder.  What if Joe Gerardi put off making out his lineup card today when the Yanks took the field against Toronto?  What if Chef Blake Bethem delayed any cooking for a couple hours tonight while order tickets piled up in front of him?  What if the 9-1-1 operator watched some Oprah before taking your call?

If my job is to write, I have to fire the procrastinator in me. It’s a parting long overdue. Excuse me while I print out a pink slip and call him into my office.  I’m sure he’ll have no trouble getting employed elsewhere.