Facebike

September 23, 2014 § 8 Comments

One day I was pedaling home from the NPR and I saw Scrum, a buddy. “Hey, man, I tried to message you on Facebag but couldn’t find you anymore.”

“Yeah,” Scrum said. “I deleted my account.”

“How come?”

“Every time I got on there it depressed the shit out of me. Everyone has a perfect life except me, it seems.”

“Oh, that’s just PR bullshit. People only put up what they want you to see. You know, happy stuff. They still get cancer and get fired and take Prozac like everyone else.”

“At least they can fake it. Anyway, I’m a lot happier now. Back to my old self. Best thing I ever did.”

Facebag, of course, has its problems, one of which is its moniker, “social media.” When I was a kid there was one phone in the house, we got our news from newspapers, and the only way you could socialize was by being around other humans. Talking to the cat never qualified as social. Instead, it often meant having to talk to Mrs. Wint, our nosy neighbor, who would run over to the house every time someone got divorced, pregnant, busted for smoking weed, kicked out of school, or caught screwing a non-spouse.

Social, in other words, meant having to suffer through her bad breath, stupid ideas, repetitive stories, receding gums, and un-bra’ed, floppy breasts in order to get to the good stuff. It was like shelling pecans. You had to peel away the bad part with quite a bit of effort to get to the meat.

Social is the one thing that Facebag is not because you don’t have to endure the physical irritants of your “friends” that you would have to put up with if you really were face-to-face, instead of screen-to-screen. When they bore you, or share their racist rants, you simply hide their feed. Most unsocial of all, you and only you get to pick the moment of interaction. In the old days you pretty much had to deal with Mrs. Wint whenever you ran into her, which was all the time. If you were social, you stopped to talk. If not, you waved and kept going. Quickly.

How many people do you know on Facebag who, when you run into them, are completely different from their profile? The friendly Facebagger who’s an obnoxious ass. The tough-talking badass who’s a pussycat. In the old days, Mrs. Wint was always Mrs. Wint.

Like quitting big-hopped beer, I’ve never been able to stay away from Facebag. The two times I deleted my account, I returned within months. With the help of Scrum’s sage advice, though, I’ve been able to make some very positive changes. I log in when I get up and spend no more than five minutes on it. I don’t endlessly scroll through my feed. I never click “like,” and rarely comment on anything. I post occasional things about gun violence to satisfy my twin needs of tweaking my gun-nut friends and doing a bit of Internet advocacy. At the end of each month I go back and delete most of the stuff from the previous month. I subscribe to a Sunday newspaper and read books instead of cat postings and self-congratulatory photos of third place at the Olde Bumfucke Crit and Shamefest.

But most of all, I’ve tried to get out of my shell and socialize on Facebike. Facebike is that two-wheeled thing that leans up against the wall in my bedroom. It lets me get next to friends, or behind their sweaty butts, and chat with them. Yesterday Derek and Aaron and I rode out to Latigo, and a good portion of it involved an old-fashioned political argument.

Remember those? When people exchanged heated opinions in person and then somehow had to come off the passion of the moment and the differing ideas and still be friends afterwards? When you couldn’t just end an argument the Facebag way — comparing someone to Hitler and deleting all their comments? Besides, after a hundred hard miles, who wants to argue anyway? And how can you argue when you’re begging for their last gel?

Facebag is still one of the world’s greatest bulletin boards, and that’s how I use it now. But when’s the last time you called someone “social” who spends hours a day staring at a bulletin board?

END

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The most epic FB Tweetle Beetle paddle-battle ever

October 28, 2013 § 23 Comments

I sat in my hotel room as the warm glow of victory, or something, washed over me. I had just vanquished my foe in the longest running Facebag comment war ever. He had ignominiously ceded the field with the cowardly claim that I was a stalker, a harasser, and that he had therefore reported me to the “proper authorities.”

I couldn’t help laughing at his silly subterfuge as I savored my victory. Sure, it had lopped 27 hours off my family vacation. Sure, my wife was livid. “How come you onna Facebag alla time?”

Sure, my son who we had come to visit was disappointed that every few seconds I would blurt out “You cocksucker! Take this!” And then furiously pound the iPhone’s keyboard, cursing and spitting and rending my breast.

Sure, we got kicked out of a couple of restaurants. And three bars. And a coffee shop. But at the end of the paddle battle, only one Tweetle Beetle was the winner. Me.

The congratulatory messages poured in. “You are the best Tweetle Beetle ever.”

“You own Facebag.”

“That was such an epic paddle battle.”

“Are you off your meds?”

“We are very worried about you.”

Etc.

In other words, I was really happy, until I heard the knock on my hotel door.

Two burly men in blue uniforms and badges stood there. “Yes?” I said.

“Facebag police,” said the bigger one.

“What?”

“Violation of terms of service, paragraph 37, section 34(a), page 987. May we come in?”

Without waiting for an answer, they pushed by me. “What’s going on? What are you talking about?”

“You’ve been reported by a user for violating the terms of service I just cited.”

“Who’s ever read those? What did I do?”

“Don’t play stupid. You broke the rule against being mean to cyclocross race promoters from Schenectady.”

“This is a joke, right? I had no idea he was from Schenectady. I made that up!”

The nicer of the two cops sat me on the edge of the bed. “Look, we’ve read the entire thread. Just confess and we’ll put in a good word on your behalf to Mr. Zuckerberg.”

“But I didn’t do anything! He said I was a crashtacular fred and that I should take his skills classes. I called him a newt and a salamander. What’s the big deal? These little Tweetle Beetle paddle-battles happen all the time. It’s Facebag, for fugg’s sake.”

The bad cop grabbed me. “Look, asshole. That wasn’t your ordinary paddle-battle!”

“It wasn’t?”

“No, wise guy, it wasn’t!”

“What was it, then?”

They both shouted in unison: “It was a Tweetle Beetle paddle-battle in a muddle in a bottle!”

The room became still as death. “Oh,” I said meekly.

“See?” said the bad cop. “Shit got real enough for ya now?”

The good cop put his arm around my shoulder as I softly sobbed. “It’s okay. Just sign this confession. We’ll both tell Mark you cooperated.”

“But all I did was go over his race resume on Cycling USA and point out what a wanker he was.”

“I know,” said the good cop as he dabbed at my tears.

“And I just said that for a coach he seemed kind of thin on credentials.”

“It’s okay, pal. Sign here.”

“And he called me a fucktard and said I was whacko and called Mrs. WM a ‘mail-order bride.'”

The bad cop was reviewing the comments. “Quit trying to make yourself out as harmless. Says right here you made fun of his second place finish in a road race.”

“There were only six entries!”

“And over here you made fun of all his DNF’s.”

“But he’s a ‘cross expert. Shouldn’t he at least be able to finish?”

The nice cop looked up. “This wouldn’t have been so bad if you hadn’t involved Dr. Knoll.”

“Dr. Knoll?” asked the bad guy. “The stinky foot doctor?”

“That’s Dr. Scholl. Dr. Knoll is the shrink for cyclists. He only gets involved when it’s serious. Or when someone pays. Or when he’s really bored.”

“Look, pal,” said the bad cop. “You signing or not? We ain’t got all day.”

I sighed and took the pen. It was a short confession: “I, Wanky, do hereby admit to having made fun of a cyclocross promoter from Schenectady such that it became a Tweetle Beetle paddle-battle in a muddle in a bottle. I henceforth promise to never do this again. A second violation will result in revocation of my Facebag license and loss of all paddle-battle bottle muddle KOM’s on Strava.”

I signed, and they left. After a few minutes I checked Facebag. “Wankmeister is a douchey crashtacular fred who needs to take my skills class,” read the item in the newsfeed. The writer was a cyclocross promoter in Scranton. My pulse quickening, I opened up and began reading the terms of service.

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