I’m feeling edgy, so I’ve queued the band that I would argue started the movement we all called “grunge”— Seattle’s own Alice in Chains.
This week’s track is “Sea of Sorrow” from AIC’s 1990 debut album, Facelift.
For me, when faced with big change, I often reach back into my past to weight the current hurdle against obstacles I faced then.
In other words, it’s how I determine if something actually is really a big deal, or if I’m giving something a lot more weight than it deserves.
For instance, take a grievance I raised in my last article — seeing people on Facebook go after one another in ways most would never fathom repeating in person.
And not just to strangers, but to people they supposedly “like,” and my compulsion to get in the mud with them.
I, along with 2.5 billion others on planet earth, am a registered Facebook user. Thanks to my wonderful smartphone, I never have to go farther than my pocket to check it.
Mind, of destructive taste
I choose to stroll amongst the waste
That was your heart lost in the dark
Call off the chase
For those of you who share the same tendencies as me, that is, or could become, a problem. I’m talking to my fellow obsessive types who just cannot leave unopened emails or unchecked alerts on my phone. I cannot do it. There must be ZERO alerts/open emails always.
My wife, who I envy in this regard, is the polar opposite. Unopened emails? Meh, so what?
Human interaction came to screeching halt at the end of March for most of us. Being required to shelter in place didn’t leave many options when it came to seeing how everyone was doing.
Woohoo! At least there’s social media, right?
Walls of thought, strong and high
As my castle crumbles with time
I think of you, oh, yes I do
Such a crime
I’ve never claimed to know how the Facebook algorithm works or how what we look at or click on drives what we see, and I still don’t. What I do know is that each week the amount of judgemental comments, hateful rhetoric, and ill-intentioned “news” increased exponentially.
About 10 days ago, I feel my phone vibrate. I open the Facebook page I have for my column to see that someone had read my last article and, thankfully, they liked it.
You opened fire and your mark was true. You opened fire aim my smiling skull at you. You opened fire
I live tomorrow, you I'll not follow
As you wallow in a sea of sorrow
While doing that, I check my personal feed and see that an old friend has shared something about wearing masks. I start reading the comments and the tension builds with each post. I figure I’ll attempt to tamp down the growing fire by maybe offering a little levity.
Before I knew it, I’d become Indiana Jones in that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark when he fell into that pit of snakes. Comments and vitriol were coming at me from all angles.
Two things became certain: 1) I know I can’t ignore the alert if it goes off, and 2) I can’t take this negativity anymore.
Rationale: I’m not willing to give up on Facebook altogether and delete my account yet (a topic for another day), but I’m not willing to walk around with that negativity in my pocket all day either.
Conclusion: I announced deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone.
Result: It has been fantastic, and it’s knocked my online involvement back to where it should be—I’ll check it on my computer in the morning and maybe once in the evening… and that’s plenty.
Side note: Call it my age or blissful ignorance, but up until a week ago I didn’t know Facebook had a “snooze” button, nor did I know how to shut off opinionated or inflammatory content.
You can now color me educated on how to do both and it’s been a total game changer.
Lines cut across my face
Why you laugh at my disgrace
I'll never know how far to go
To reach that place
I imagined what it would have been like had this happened when I was my son’s age. If trapped at home in 1987, at my disposal were my guitar, my guitar magazines, my guitar books, my CD’s and albums, and all of 13 channels on the TV that came to life at 6:00 a.m. and faded to black with the National Anthem at midnight.
If we wanted national and international news, we got it from Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, or Dan Rather at 5:30, and each of them had 30 minutes to tell you the most important news of the day. Think about that.
Just 30 minutes.
Did they need an hour? Nope. What does that mean? The rest is fluff. Conjecture. Rhetoric. Opinion. All of it meant to stir us up.
Snooze them. Snooze the Rachel Maddows and Tucker Carlsons. Stick to the 5:30 timeslot that leaves little room for opinion and spin.
Read this local newspaper. Publisher David Gustafson is a newsman’s newsman—fair, impartial, and accurate.
If he and/or his reporters weren’t fact-based and source-verified, they’d be out of business.
If you have Facebook friends who feel compelled to share things you disagree with, snooze them.
They won’t know and in 30 days they’ll reappear in your feed, hopefully, with whatever wound them up out of their system.
It’s naïve, but I’d like it we all could treat Facebook as if we’re all at the dinner table.
We all know decorum begs that we refrain from three simple subjects: religion, sex, and politics.
It would also be naïve and quite sanctimonious for me to hold anyone to that, or to have you think that I won’t slip up down the road.
When I do, please snooze me too.
P.S. Three years ago this week we lost Chris Cornell. By his own hand, he left his family and throngs of friends and fans without warning. COVID-19 and the wake of negativity and financial insecurity it’s caused hasn’t helped mental health for most as well.
If you or someone you know has contemplated suicide or needs help, dial (800) 273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Help is available there.
When he’s not rocking his socks off with his band, The 6550s, Wes Brooks spends his days as the Development Coordinator at the DuBard School for Language Disorders at Southern Miss. Send an email and tell him what you think at: firstname.lastname@example.org