Book Smart……Maybe??

John Steinbeck’s Travel Rig

In Which We Go Digitally Into The Dark, Dark Night!

Yes, I have a Facebook account. Not exactly earth shattering news, I know. Like many people around the world, I am somewhat ambivalent about having the account. I have made peace with myself for the moment. All “aware and sometimes sane” people living in the digital and social media age, are leery of the moral, ethical, rational, and humane counter-intuitive trappings of reading and posting on Facebook. Yes, I like to keep up with friends, but my main reason for staying around, are treasures of information, news, and pictures that find their way to me. I’m no snob, so I enjoy the articles on how spent nuclear waste has been turned into a nearly endless supply of electrical energy in a battery, just as much as I find myself watching the crazy escapades of Siberian Huskies, and men who “break” and adopt kittens. 

Recently, I have purged some groups, people, and activities from “my site.” Yes, some because I can’t stand to watch my old friends plunge further and further in to alcoholism, and some because the group members are so interesting and supportive, that the proliferation of endless posts on Woodworking, and Bicycle Touring have inundated my page, and I just don’t have enough time to sift through all of it. 

A “funny” thing has happened. As I have made large recent purges in the people and groups I had followed, Facebook has inexplicably, not just suggested “new people and groups” to follow, but has inserted these groups and discussions onto my home page.

The worst part? A large number of these “new” groups are extremely conservative and excessively “right wing.” In case anyone who is not versed in the writing, musing, and inane blabbering of Zulu Delta, I can assure you, I am neither conservative or right wing (there is no such thing as “right leaning!”). Normally, I would blow past the odd or misplaced group suggestion, but the number of them popping up have grown disturbing. Worse than that? I have probably done what Facebook would love me to do; I have read some of the pages to see what they are all about, and in my lowest state of weakness, I was so appalled, that I actually replied to a few comments. Not because I thought it would do any good, but because I was so mad, I succumbed to the primal urge to strike out against certain comments. I have NO delusions that my postings would inflict some common sense or elicit any soul-searching decency; I just wanted to add some counter balance to the literal venom being spouted through the electronic ether. 

Woman #1- “Thank God we have a Governor in Florida who will send all these immigrants to all the “Libs” in Martha’s Vineyard! It will only help get Trump out of this mess the DEMS have put him in.”

Me- “The only thing you should be getting out of is the Cult you’re in!”

Woman #1- “I’m willing to listen to how your President is better” (how does she know who my president is?).

Me- “Wrong! Lies!! Nobody in a cult will listen to anyone but the Cult Leader!”

Anyway, after reading 20 more comments, I opted out of any future posting from this and several similar groups. Gone; except there was something more bothering me than just the ignorant filth; it was “The Cheerleaders.”

In Which We Travel With Charley!

Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a 1962 travelogue written by American author John Steinbeck. It depicts a 1960 road trip around the United States made by Steinbeck, in the company of his standard poodle Charley. Wikipedia

Originally published: 1962

Author: John Steinbeck

And for more perspective……

Mark Twain

“A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.”  Mark Twain

In the spirit of continued honesty, as a younger man, I had not read Travels With Charley. Ultimately, I only read it to impress a woman who absolutely loved the book. Throughout history, young men have committed far worse acts in the pursuit of a woman than read a book. 

I was not that impressed with the book. I found it sad, and depressing and got the gist that the author found a lot of the same, but oddly three things about the book stay with me to this day. 

1. Geographically, how vast and spread out the United States is. I often think about this as I fly over America. Personally, to see the large swaths of either farm land or mountains, unnerves me slightly. Where can I find water? Where can I buy milk, what if my car breaks down? A Navy shipmate once told me he and his friends would drive 50 miles one way to McDonalds on a Saturday Night just to have “something” to do. In Rhode Island, many people think you need to have a passport just to cross over the Providence River; so they don’t. OK, maybe a slight exaggeration, but I still don’t know why they won’t cross the River. 

2. How desolate and lonely much of the population of the U.S. is. In recent years, I have tried to temper my disdain for gambling casinos on Native American Tribal lands since I learned that many of them double as a community center where people don’t have a lot of places to gather in remote areas. I once read the same thing about Walmart with disappointing consequences. Walmart had “run-out’” all the local businesses in a small rural town. People not only had to shop there, but worked there, because with no community center, it was the place they liked to socialize. When Walmart closed down, they not only lost their jobs, but the “center” of the community. 

3. The Cheerleaders. When Steinbeck got to New Orleans, he encountered a group of women known as The Cheerleaders. The woman would line up every morning and afternoon on school days to hurl racist slurs, insults, and derogatory comments at African American school children because they didn’t want their children being integrated, but most simply, because they were horrible people. 

“No newspaper had printed the words these women shouted. It was indicated that they were indelicate, some even said obscene. On television the sound track was made to blur or had crowd noises cut in to cover. But now I heard the words, bestial and filthy and degenerate” John Steinbeck

Full Circle; Back To The Book Of Faces

So before I deleted several “undesired friends and groups,” I am ashamed to admit that I read more comments than I should have. It was the women who shocked me. 

As one example, one posting had 20 comments not including my childish and asinine outburst. 16 of the comments were from women; 80%. I saw this statistic repeated several times. The women’s comments were also cruel, racist, and inhumane. I was so saddened and disappointed. 

All I could think of was The Cheerleaders from Steinbeck.

Do I have any blind spots about how cruel, racist, and inhumane the men are, or were in their comments? Absolutely not. I expect it. That doesn’t excuse them; offensive is offensive. So, am I being sexist or intolerant of women, holding them to a different standard in the general public than the men for all of society to see and judge?

NO.

They will be seen and judged equally; in the same space.

 What I am unrealistically holding the women I recently encountered on Facebook to, is my own personal disappointment and failure of imagination. “They,” betrayed me. American “Karen’s” on the warpath. They were supposed to be my secret weapon in the war against cruelty, and injustice. A beacon of hope for a fractured world, a bitter nation. I was holding my proverbial breath that “Modern America” would be saved by mothers who wanted better for all children. Saved by women who were not overtaken in a testosterone frenzy. Saved by women, not drowning in their own inferiority complexes. Women who would rise to all the greatness, wisdom, and justice abandoned by so many men in America, but at that moment, all I could see and hear were the screams of The Cheerleaders.

Turning The Face Of The Book

A few days have passed since I crawled my way out of the cesspool that is often social media. I remained as emotionally and intellectually lost (a reoccurring theme lately) for meaning as I did when I began this episode. 

Today I decided to have a “peak” at Facebook. I found a few more groups I deleted (right after I “tagged and reported them” for hate speech).

I found “something else.” Maybe the “Secret Weapon” is not so secret at all?

I found my page for Mothers Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. https://momsdemandaction.org

I found the story of the 36 year old female Finish Prime Minister Sanna Marin who continues to usher her country into NATO and wisely governs in the threat and shadow of a Nuclear Russia, despite being caught dancing at a party with her friends (God Forbid!).

I found a picture of Queen Elizabeth working as an Army Mechanic during WW2.

I found a video of an African American Actress; Sonequa Martin-Green who just happens to portray a bad-ass Captain on Star Trek. 

I found the story of Hedy Lamarr, often proclaimed “the most beautiful woman in the world.” who used her Engineering Degree during WW2 to track submarines and invented some of the technology for modern WI-FI and Bluetooth.

I found postings for Mary, Theresa, Cathy, and Rosemary, who last week cycled 525 miles over 8 days to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation. 

I also found a video about a young woman  who lovingly “scolds” her Siberian Husky to bring back her shoe that he initially pretends he knows nothing about. 

Hard Cover books, and even Facebook may tell us the past, and portray the present, but to quote so many; “The Future Is Not Yet Written.”

Despite what some are “cheering about.” 

6 thoughts on “Book Smart……Maybe??

  1. Facebook….it’s an opportunity for big hearts, small businesses and humorous anecdotes to meld and educate. The fact that political factions have turned it into their own press (convincing nobody of nothing) used to upset me….now I accept the bad with the good (and just scroll by the bad).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I should add that FB is also filled with bots that are controlled by those who wish to incite anger if not violence. A great example I learned first hand was a site called “Let Africa Live”. Posts continually attacked me personally and my organisation, ifaw. There were calls to violence against my person which often included photos of me with targets on my face etc. You may remember that the FBI raided a bot factory in Arizona that was focused on stirring political discontent and shut down the operation. Lo and behold, the “Let Africa Live” site was operating from the bot factory and was shut down along with the pro-Russian, pro-Trump disinformation machine. The site disappeared and my life was saved!!! ( facetious) FB does need to be monitored and I made a practice of never responding or commenting to anything negative and strive to keep my site filled with interesting and hopeful posts. My goal is positive mental health.

    Liked by 1 person

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