Why I Hate Facebook Memes

I have a confession: I haven’t always hated Facebook memes. In fact, I have been an inveterate Facebook meme sharer, mostly cats and inspirational quotes. And I have enjoyed the memes of others. I have learned new things. I have seen opposing political and cultural views that made me stop and think, even if for a moment to consider my position. I have learned which of my friends share my views and which do not. Largely, memes have been a positive vehicle.

Then I saw a Facebook friend, who I have also hung out with in real life, write a status update about disliking memes and encouraging her friends to start and have conversations. I didn’t dislike memes, but I liked her appeal. I began commenting on as many of her posts and the posts of all my friends where possible instead of simply clicking on ‘Like’. I wanted to contribute to the conversation with my friends, and I wanted the reverse to happen as well.

And then it began to happen. I began to notice just how many times, instead of sharing a Status Update, my friends posted picture memes without adding a single word. I noticed people sharing articles with opposing views that I disliked seeing, usually because they were racist, bigoted, or religious (although sharing a religious meme did not automatically earn my disapproval or cause me to hide a page).

I noticed when a single person posted eight times in a row, all memes, all without comment. And I really noticed that my entire News Feed seemed to comprise of memes, links, to articles, and happy pictures of celebrations. I don’t mind happy celebrations or pictures. However, I do mind an entire News Feed of pictures in various forms.

Suddenly, I found myself both angry and bored. I started hiding a lot of pages that my friends with extreme and opposing views share. I started skimming and skimming and skimming. I wanted to get to the ones where the posts of my friends who talk about something real actually share it. They really are too few and far between.

I don’t really care if you share your anti-welfare views or your anti-gun views, but put it in your own words for once. I want to hear what YOU think. I don’t want to hear what conservative groups think. I don’t care about them. I care about you. I want to talk to you. I want to learn from you. But if pictures with other people’s words on them are all you are going to share, then I’m going to hide them. Because, at that point, we’re all just talking at each other instead of with each other.

I’d rather talk with you. What do you prefer?

I have been putting in a concerted effort to reduce the number of memes that I share around. I want to try and keep a more conversational flavor in Facebook, but it’s quite hard to resist from sharing those kitten and puppy memes from flying around. I mean, who doesn’t like a cute kitten or puppy? I ask you!

What Makes You Feel Blessed?

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. A lot.

The good is that I keep in touch with a lot of friends that I might not otherwise. I like that I can do that because it also makes it easier for people to know what’s going on with me, even if we can’t see each other.

The one thing I have begun to notice is how many memes people send around. I must confess that I have sent around my share. I started feeling a subtle discomfort. My friend Heather has decried the use of memes and has turned her updates into conversation starters. I like that – using a Facebook status update to start a conversation instead of just telling people what you think.

After relaying a story about how seeing a bumper sticker that read BLESSED got her thinking, Heather asked:

What does it take? What makes YOU feel blessed?

I answer her question:

The fact that, despite my many surgeries and complications therefrom, I am alive. I can smell, walk, talk, hear, touch, and taste things. My mom is alive, lives near me, and loves me. I have sisters who would beat the living shit out of anyone who tried to harm me. My lovey gives me unconditional love and support. Kitty cats. The beach – the sounds, the smells, the feel of sand underneath my feet. Having a place to sleep, more than enough to eat, a tranquil home environment. Spending time with my friends. Anything with bourbon or gin in it. Going to my favorite watering hole with Mark and getting drinks made by our favorite bartenders. The sun on my face. A tall glass of iced coffee. Reading, reading, reading. The fact that I love to read that has brought me so much, for having a mother who loved to read. Those are the things I value the most. 

So now it’s my turn to ask you: What does it take? What makes YOU feel blessed? (props to Heather)

The Empty Room

I wonder what it would be like to have a soothing peace fill the inside instead of this dreadful pain that I feel. I am not good at knowing exactly what to do with that space. It’s as if I have bought a house, but I have no possessions. I own no furniture that requires me to measure doorways and openings, fretting about how it will all fit. I have no books to rearrange on shelves. No memories to hang on the walls.

Sunlight pours into the room with bright white walls, hardwood floors gleaming their oak honey back in. All my desires for decor and children echo in that space that can never be nor will be filled. Or so it seems.

A longing within me desires to fill the sun room with colors and chaos. A voice from deep within whispers that, no matter the accent pillows nor throw rugs, no matter the sofas nor desks, no matter the clothing nor tchotchkes, the room will continue to be as it is, hollow and bare, but looking quite bright and inviting from the outside.

I suspect, tho I am loathe to admit, that any attempts by me to fill the space will fail miserably. I will turn away to get the coffee off the stove. I will go away for but a few minutes at most, and I will return to the room that stands just as empty and shiny as it ever was. I will be frightened, confused. How can it be that this room that I have just finished decorating, stuffed with unsorted stuffed animals and books and music CDs, is empty as if I never touched it? The room retains its friendly demeanor, looking right back at me as if to say in a nonplussed tone, “What?”

“As if you don’t know!” will come my reply, but the room has nothing more to say. No further conversation in which I am permitted to make my arguments and win against the room. Its emptiness does not wish to have a discussion with me, although I will keep on trying to engage its attention. I fail miserably every time. Who really wants to have a room that they cannot use?

“You must do something,” the logic in my mind tries to goad me. But how is it possible to have a tug of war when the other side refuses to pick up the rope, to engage in a battle of wills? I have listened the to Commander’s logic and have attempted a variety of ways to pressgang the empty, resistant, unifillable room into standing down, to surrender itself to being filled. Isn’t the passive feminine supposed to cave to the masculine dictator of logic and allow the invasion forces to penetrate, to conquer, to humiliate and dominate?

Instead, the room resists all my therapy tricks, all the German code false starts, all the bulldozers and the bullies. A tsunami could hit the exterior walls and not even a hairline crack would appear. The room feels inviolate for it will neither bend nor break. Would an earthquake shake it up, loosen the dirt underneath and around the foundation, and bring down the house?

I tiptoe around the landlines, the mounds of unhealed moments in my life that, if I were to step on them, would shake me violently, rattle my eyes in their sockets, and blur my vision. As I back away from the explosives, my vision clears. I am no longer afraid. Neither am I moving forward.

The empty room presses in the sore spots that linger deeply inside when I think of what my life could be like. The fulfillment I crave. Tasks finished. Books written. Money and self-sufficiency won. That ever-moving goal where I imagine a personal nirvana where I can find a kind of permanent peace. In the meantime, pain lives on within, unkissable and unsatisfying.

I compare myself to other people. They are ahead of me, better than me, find reaching their goals easier, are more persistent, more talented, more worthy and worthwhile, and better than I am in their lives than I can ever be in every possible way.

I throw all these fatty, heavy feelings into the room. They stick to the walls, melding with the paint, as the room gains weight. Like a glue, the room sits in my landscape and refuses to move. The glue eventually fades, but the pain stays and the room remains empty, despite all my best efforts to fill it with good things. My values, hopes, and dreams. My daring and courage. My persistence and my will. My strengths and my vulnerabilities. I give it everything in the hopes that it will be satisfied by something, anything.

After all this time, I think that maybe what the room wants me to do, most of all, is to sit there without trying to change it or myself. Maybe that’s what I need to do. Stop trying to change everything inside the room and the room itself. Maybe the room wants a sole, whole occupant. Only by sitting and listening without doing will the room be complete and, maybe, me along with it.

Talking to a Wall

One of my father’s favorite things to call people was a “capotosta.” Loosely translated, it means  that someone has a “hard head” and will not listen. Recently, I realized that someone I know might actually be one of these capotostas (and, no, it’s not me). I explained how the conversation  felt to my husband.

The Wall (TW): I have been a wall my whole life. I know what it means to be a wall.
Me: Yes, but they’ve come a long way in construction since you were made.
TW: You can’t fool me! I am a wall, and, therefore, I know more about being a wall than you do.
Me: That may be true. But there have been changes in technologies, materials, and building methods. Surely there must be different kinds of walls being built, don’t you think?
TW: What do you mean “other walls being built”? There is only one thing in the world called a wall. A wall is a wall is a wall.
Me: C’mon, just try a little to open your mind. Do you really think that nothing has changed?
TW: I don’t have a mind. In any case, I am a wall and always will be.
Me: I liked you better when I thought you didn’t talk.

When talking to your favorite capotosta, try to remember that the best thing for you to do is to stop banging your head (or your mind) against that wall. If you want something porous, try a sponge. They’ll soak up just about anything.

Overheard in NYC About Love

Love Story #1

We are leisurely walking eastward on West 18th after an early evening dinner at Westville, a restaurant that focuses on fresh food at reasonable prices. A slim couple dressed in black clothing are briskly walking in the opposite direction from us, their arms tightly linked. The man stands a head taller than the girl, and their heads angle in towards each other. As they pass us, I overheard this conversation:

Woman with a husky voice asks, “Do you believe in love?”
Man replies, “I do.”

Love Story #2

We are on the Long Beach bound train on the Long Island Rail Road heading home to Floral Park. A couple of boisterous friends who are audibly drunk sit down behind us. Woman #1 tells woman #2 about a casual one-night stand she recently had. I wonder whether the whole train car can hear her or just our half. Woman #2 is worse off and wants to get off the train as soon as possible.

Woman #2: “Are getting off at Jamaica to get a drink?”
Woman #1: “No.”
Woman #2: “Do you want to get a drink at Jamaica?”
Woman #1: “No, we never stop here.”

Woman #1: “What is the one word that can relief all of the burden of our pain?”
Woman #2: “Jamaica!”
Woman #1: “No! What is the one word that can relief all of the burden of our pain?”
Woman #2: “Jamaica!!”
Woman #1: “NO!! What is the one word that can relief all of the burden of our pain?”
Woman #2: “Jamaica!!”
Woman #1: “NO!! The word is LOVE.”
Woman #2: “Arrrrrrgh!! I don’t do love.”