Social media justice

It began with an email. I thought it was a scam so I ignored it.

I could not have violated Facebook’s community standards. I hadn’t posted anything in months. Certainly, silence could not be against community standards.

Out of curiosity, I clicked to open the Facebook app. Maybe silence is against community standards.

It was true. My Facebook account had been suspended, just as the mysterious email had foretold.

I went back to the email: I had 30 days to appeal the suspension. After that my account would be deleted permanently.

Let’s see how this works, I thought, switching back to the app. I clicked the button to appeal. The app wanted my phone number. I was a little reluctant, but I finally decided I could offer that much to get to the bottom of this mystery.

The next screen asked me to upload a photo of my ID (e.g. license, passport, etc.).

Whoa. My identity is pretty important to me, and when it comes right down to it, Facebook is not. I started becoming disillusioned with FB the moment after I originally signed up. That disillusionment has grown over the years, as FB has become a tool to turn my deepest thoughts and shallowest curiosities into advertising to be thrown back into my face. Then there’s the issue of a corporation passing judgment on whose ideas are valid and whose aren’t.

Yes, there is a pleasant side to FB, and I do look at it sometimes to see what my friends are up to, and to understand what type of embarrassing secrets people now willingly share with the world in return for validation or sympathy.

I figure there are about 10 days left until I get deleted from the official registry of world people, and I think I’m OK with that. I would like to know what standard I violated by doing nothing (maybe I didn’t reach my quota of “Likes” in the past decade – I couldn’t argue with that), but I think I can live not knowing.

Here’s the interesting part.

Since my account got suspended, I have been receiving FB notifications like never before. Suddenly, I’m getting them in my email, and my entire phone screen is filled with them. I rarely got notifications when I was an upstanding citizen. Weird, huh?

It’s almost like FB is trying hard to lure me back. “Look at all this fun stuff you’re missing by not uploading your official state ID to us!”

They really want me to upload that ID. I’m sure it’s for my own good.

Even so, I think I’ll play out this game of chicken to the end. Maybe they’ll realize I’m calling their bluff and drop the charges. Probably not, in which case I might have to learn to present myself as a flesh and blood person again. I wonder if I’m up to it.

Waiting to hear if my profile will be released or executed.

The encore nobody asked for

When I was in 2nd grade, I puked so hard one day it left me traumatized about going back to school for a week. Though I was physically recovered, every time I tried to go to school my imagination insisted I would puke again the moment I entered the building. Eventually, dear old Jack, our bus driver, had to carry me over his shoulder into my classroom. I kicked and screamed, but I didn’t puke. Thus ended my nearest flirtation with dropping out of school.

I think the reason I was so affected by this puking incident was that it happened in the lunch line, which was about as embarrassing as a public vomit could be. At least I think it was in the lunch line. Memories get faded over the decades, but I know somebody puked in the lunch line. Maybe it was me; maybe it was another kid; it could have been that I, and one or more other kids, puked in the lunch line. Somebody did. When you must step around a chunky puddle to get to your egg salad sandwich, it sticks with you.

A doctor and nurse are a start, I suppose, but for the sake of the child I sure hope the guy in the back is a sturdy bus driver.

It’s been too long since we talked about vomit, hasn’t it? That’s my fault and I beg your pardon. What brings me back around to these thoughts is my 2nd grader’s recent bout with the gut bug. Big Man is much more composed about puking than I was, but to be fair, he had the advantage of puking in the privacy of his own home.

Even so, he’s remarkably composed about the upheaval. He dutifully pukes in his mop bucket, then asks for a washcloth in the same calm tone that he might ask, “Can I have an ice cream sandwich?” on a hot summer day. Between the tempests, he is apt to give a self-diagnosis of his medical situation: “I think it’s my waist that’s causing me to puke.” Close enough, in my book.

One strange phenomenon I have noticed in him, and his brother, is this: they have the pukes, get better, run around like normal for a day or more, then have one good final puke after the parents have let their guards down and put the bucket away.

I don’t know how common this is. I only found one mention of such a thing online. It was referred to as an encore vomit. I don’t know that we’ve ever cheered loudly enough over puke to make anyone think we wanted more of it, but there it is. The kids think they are back to normal, but their little tummies aren’t really, and there is some miscommunication about how much food can be tolerated. Hence the curtain call.

Maybe I wouldn’t have been so worried about puking again in school if it had been presented to me as an encore performance. That might have made it seem less humiliating. Of course, the cafeteria egg salad wasn’t exactly tempting me back either.

What happens in Tennessee stays in the photo available in the gift shop at the end of the tour

Time flies when you’re not blogging. Last I checked, it was Christmastime, and now spring break has come and gone.

For spring break we piled into the minivan and headed south. We’d heard rumors of warmer weather and interesting attractions in Tennessee, and since it was within our spur-of-the-moment traveling range, why not?

Well, traffic for one thing. Every school district north of Kentucky had spring break the same week. I’ve never been in so many traffic jams in open country. I felt sorry for the families continuing to Florida during this temporary Midwestern diaspora.

Knoxville was a trip down a 30-year-old memory lane to the one semester I spent at the University of Tennessee before I became a graduate school dropout. UT does not seem to have suffered from our breakup. It remembered less of me than I did of it.

In Chattanooga, we played all over Lookout Mountain, taking the Incline Railway trolley up and down, then crisscrossing the mountain by car. We strayed momentarily into Georgia. Buster and Big Man had never been to Georgia, and since they didn’t leave the car, we debated if it counted. They never actually set foot there, but they did break the plane of Georgia, which counts in football. Since Georgia is a big football state, we’re counting it.

Pigeon Forge is an Appalachian Vegas, if you replace the casinos with moonshine and go-carts. We arrived with three intentions: Dollywood, Alpine Slide, and Titanic Museum (why there is an ocean disaster museum in the Smokey Mountains I’ll let you ponder). We did none of them. We got too distracted by other things, and the Alpine Slide was closed by high winds and a forest fire.

Still, we had fun discovering other adventures. We even spent hours visiting a bird sanctuary, which, Alfred Hitchcock notwithstanding, was not as horrible as it sounds. The boys loved it.

The kids decided they wanted to move to Tennessee. My wife was almost on board with them, but she didn’t see enough Target stores; when she drives too far without seeing Target, she starts to hear dueling banjos in her head. From there it’s a short mental leap to a Deliverance/The Hills Have Eyes situation.

It was not all fun and games. The minivan got progressively louder in the water pump area as the days passed. I grew apprehensive about the 500-mile trip home. During the drive back, I kept one eye on the road and one eye on the temperature gauge. She didn’t sound healthy, but our sick car soldiered through, delivering us safely, despite her nasty cough.

Now, $800 later, she’s sounds good as new, almost. Add that to the cost of vacation. It kind of makes me wish we didn’t buy a family photo at every ride and sideshow we visited. Oh well, those family photos will be a minute of pleasure when we stumble across them in basement shoe boxes every 15 years or so. So I guess that’s worth it.

Have yourself a merry little air fryer holiday

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains a spoiler in the first sentence. Read at your own risk.

You’re getting an air fryer for Christmas.

Maybe more than one.

And that’s okay.

I have two air fryers, and I use them often. If, like me, you love fries, chicken wings, or battered fish, and you want those things to kill you fractionally more slowly than they normally would, you will love the air fryer(s) coming your way.

So, rejoice!

How do I know you’re getting an air fryer?

That’s a complicated mathematical equation involving the abundance of air fryers on the store shelves in ratio to the lack of most everything else. Air fryers have spread from the kitchen section to various undersupplied areas of the store.

The stores have found a way to prevent you from being disappointed at seeing empty electronics cases this year. You won’t see the empty cases at all; they are hidden behind a mountain of air fryers. Who needs distracting electronics anyhow? Let’s all go back to simpler time, when we sat around the house and actually talked to each other, with nothing more pressing to do than wait for the beeping noise that told us the fried chicken was ready to be turned.

Fryer mania

Fighting inflation with air fryer deals. Note: this is not even the kitchen section of the store.

I recall reading news stories in which the executives at major retailers downplayed the supply chain crisis, assuring us they had millions of dollars’ worth of extra inventory in their warehouses this year. It is now becoming clear what those millions of dollars were tied up in.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find those special somethings your loved ones wanted this year, and you must settle on giving air fryers. Just think: by eliminating the need for all those unhealthy cooking oils, you may be adding upwards of two or three days onto their lives. And when you get the air fryers they’re giving you, you can join the rest of the family in exchanging creative and pseudo-healthy recipes.

So let’s all get psyched for the air fryers in our futures! Also, the other item that seems in ample supply is the novelty waffle maker. You may find one of those in your Christmas stocking, so making Minnie Mouse face waffles is also something to look forward to. Your kids will clamor to eat the heads of the world’s most beloved cartoon characters.

I have faith that you will all enjoy your new air fryers. A happy holiday season is assured. Knowing this, I feel it is only right to wish you a crispy, golden brown New Year.