For Each & All, A Chrome Disguise

Facebook, in theory, gives me the option to filter content.

That content filter is woefully inadequate, though. I can block individual users. I can block certain applications. I can block event invitations but that's not what I'm interested in avoiding. The people I don't want to hear from, I can just delete. The apps and invites that don't interest me are just so much spam, skimmed passed and ignored like any other junk mail.

What I need is an option to filter out the things that I would avoid in casual conversation. All the things that I wouldn't talk to you about in person, I also need not see those things in my Facebook feed. I'm not saying that you shouldn't post them, but, as when mingling at a party, there are topics that I should be able to duck, even from people I know and care for. It might be something that offends me, something I've heard too many times, something I know to be a fish story or, most commonly, something I simply don't give a shit about.

I do not care what you are cooking for dinner and I don't want to see pictures of it nor be told how hard it is to cut under-ripe avocados or somesuch.

I do not need an hourly update about the banalities of your life, where you're shopping, what movie you're about to see, why you were late to work, how loud your neighbors are, how disappointed you were with the mid-season cliffhanger, or how tiring the drive back from Albuquerque was.

Unless it is a semi-pro class or better event in which you are personally participating, I don't want to hear about sports, not ever.

I do not care about your pets.

Unless you are suggesting a legitimate solution to a national problem and have already detailed that solution in a concise and penetrating letter to your Senator, I do not want to hear your political opinions.

And, I absolutely, positively, under no circumstances want to hear banal observations about, nor see pictures of your children. Neither you, nor your kids are special enough to interest me. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be a proud and conscientious parent, but I am saying that lower primates routinely raise their offspring to adulthood without fanfare. You cannot expect me to applaud you accomplishing monkeys can do.

With all of that ranted, I want to be clear, I'm not saying that you shouldn't post such things. We live in a nation that protects our freedom of expression. We should be glad of that and express ourselves loudly and proudly. What I am saying is that, like in the real world, I should have the option not to listen. Of course, you're saying, "Tom, you aren't obligated to read any of these things. You can just ignore it!" In principle, you're correct, except that I am now at an age where such things make up a majority of the posts that make it into my Newsfeed. And, because the algorithm that FB uses to determine what is in the Newsfeed is basically voodoo, I have no real idea as to what I'm missing because a friend of a friend posted twenty consecutive puppy rescue links.

Put another way, I'm worried that things I do legitimately want to hear, serious insights, original witticisms, pictures devoid of snark, tales of old friends in crisis overcoming adversity and an honest update on the state of the lives of others, are getting crowded out by banality.

Zuckerberg, I'm looking at you.


An Army of One

An example of how movie making differs from other professions.

Our Script Supervisor overslept and missed the crew van from the hotel. This led everyone to freak out. We're calling her on her cell. The AD's are calling her on her cell. I'm on the phone with the front desk, bullying the GM of the hotel to personally go to her room. My assistant is sending a PA to the hotel, shoo'ing him out the door with no instructions other than 'go to the hotel, run, we'll call you with details, go, now.'

Our day literally ground to a halt while we searched for this one person because we simply cannot proceed without them. We can't shoot without a script supervisor to monitor the continuity, time the takes, record the relevant direction and log everything for the editors. It's a highly specific discipline that can take years to master so it's not like just any person can step in and fill her roll, even if the union were to allow such a thing, which they won't.

Moreover, she's not terribly unique in this regard. There are dozens of people without whom shooting simply stops and it's not just the Director, DP, and lead actors. This could happen for the DIT, Gaffer, Costume Designer, Stunt Coordinator or the 1st AD. If any one of a dozen or more people is off the mark, a crew of more than a hundred sits around on their elbows.

Make sure to set your alarm.


Because Good is Dumb!

"How's the weather?" I ask.

"It's wet and cold and going to get colder." She tells me.

"Just like my life." I quip.

"Your life is wet?" She inquires with eyebrow raised.

I shuffle my feet, unsure how to broach the truth, "I've been trying out a new variety of Unmitigated Evil, and it makes a helluva mess."

An exasperated sigh, "Have the minions clean it up, duh!"

"My minions quit. They went to work for some other Earthbound Incarnation of Evil. I'm told he has a stylish mask, snappy uniforms and a flying fortress. Apparently, his Evil Gig [TM] is just sexier than mine."

"Wow, whatever happened to loyalty?"

"I know!"

She put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder, "At least you still have a musty basement full of unspeakable abominations."

"And that will have to be enough, won't it?"

Such is the day to day of my life.

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Voices, Outside Love's Open Door

I'd not seen her in at least seven years. Given her lifestyle and given that she had failed to show at a close, mutual friend's funeral, I'd half presumed that she was dead. As heartless as it may seen, I took some comfort in that thought. Not that I was glad she might be gone, but that I could carry on my life, sure in the thought that we would never again cross paths, that I could put all the hurt and hatefulness behind me and carry on knowing that that chapter in my life was irrevocably closed. There was a certain relief in the thought that, just maybe, she would have found that final peace from those things that vexed and viced her for so long, that she was free of demons from which I failed to protect her.

To my unexpected relief, she is very much alive. She'd just gone so far afield from our old circle as to have walked off the the world. Now, as a product of capricious fate and of adulthoods ever expanding spheres of acquaintance, we are again in one another's company.

She's looking good, all things considered. She's acquired some color and put on some weight, which is good, since her chosen chemicals once kept her frighteningly skinny and her nocturnal habits kept her ghostly in complexion. It's good to know that those proclivities have gone by. The mutual friends that know her now, but that did not know her then, say she is as pleasant, honest, reliable and trustworthy, so she must have made a turnabout from who she once was. When I knew her she was a spriraling addict and little else.

When I was invited to the party that I knew she'd attend, I was terrified. I almost backed out. I was considering skipping it until I parked the car in front of the host's house. What would happen? Would years of unaddressed resentment come crashing back? Would there be tears? Would our very distance make the night awkward for all around? I was mortified, colorless, breathless.

What bothered me most, though, was the chance, however remote, that long-stilled feelings would avalanche across my heart and crush me under their tumult. I trembled at the idea that, confronted with her, everything that had made me cling to her, everything that made me ignore or forgive her betrayals, would again become immediate and I would find myself lost and in love with her despite all contrary wisdom.

This didn't happen. I felt no surge of eros, no wash of passion. I also felt no crush of resentment, no wave of disgust. I felt absolutely nothing at all.

I didn't speak to her the entire evening. I didn't so much feel the need to glance at her. We managed to go the entire night without ever really acknowledging one another and I don't feel I missed out for choosing not to reconnect.

It's good to know, really. It's good to know that she's still kicking around, living something that approximates a normal, healthy life. It's also good to know that there's nothing left there. That my heart of hearts has no more energy to devote to thoughts of vengeance or forgiveness, that that chapter of my past can be closed and left on the shelf for the rest of my days. I'm better off that way.

And, the sun comes up tomorrow.