Inktober 2019 #3: Bait

I wasn’t really sure what to do for this prompt and finally settled on bashing Facebook in a weird, oblique way. But I got to draw a cool shark.

Another “Here’s why Facebook sucks” story you don’t have to actually read past the headline

But if you do want to read it, here’s the link to the story on The Verge.

And the headline that reminds you that Facebook and most other major social media platforms are corrosive, terrible and bad:

Using my smartphone for good, not evil

Actually it would be more fair to say I’ve been using my smartphone (currently an iPhone 8) for harmless nonsense, which is still better than using it for evil.

I’ve made a few recent posts to the blog during my morning commute, using the Ulysses app to slowly tap out a post and then upload it directly to my blog. I marvel at the technology, even as I lament how few will see my carefully-considered nonsense. I even just recently had a two-day stretch of zero visits on June 21 and 22. This is bad even by my own sad standards. I clearly need to work on the SEO and other acronyms to boost hits. More clickbait! More gossip! More whatever it is people want. Maybe just a redirect to Facebook.

It feels like the writing muscles are finally starting to halt their atrophy, as I am using more little blocks of time to write errant thoughts down, moving ever-so-slightly closer to perhaps engaging in some fiction writing again.

Mainly, though, I am not using my phone for social media, except for using Slack at work, which is not really in any way fun, so doesn’t count. There’s hardly any clickbait.

What do I use my phone for? Here’s a list. I like lists.

What I use my smartphone for, in order of most to least

  1. Listening to music
  2. Sending and receiving text messages with my partner. A lot of this includes Bitmoji nonsense, which I love and adore.
  3. Logging food/water in the MyFitnessPal app
  4. Adding or removing stuff in the Reminders app
  5. Checking stats in the Activity app
  6. Occasionally checking email, either personal (Gmail) or work (Outlook)
  7. Checking calendar appointments (almost exclusively work-related)
  8. Adding errant thoughts using the Drafts 4 app
  9. Adding errant and less-errant thoughts using the OneNote app
  10. Sometimes checking the weather or news
  11. Using the flashlight function
  12. Making or receiving an actual phone call
  13. Playing a game
  14. Writing a blog post (this one may move up the list over time)

What I never use my smartphone for

  1. Making the world a worse place (to my knowledge)
  2. To smash open walnuts
  3. As a level
  4. To play music without earbuds or earphones. Seriously, why do people do this? Do you do this? Don’t do this.
  5. To plug in a nice set of headphones (zing!)

Facebook uses its inside voice

This was posted on, and while many sites covered the story, I like the way they use Facebook’s explanation in the headline, which I imagine is meant to be read deadpan-style:

What an interesting accident. I like the cheek of the person who arranged for the “accidental” printing of a message onto a physical Facebook product stating “Big Brother is Watching.” It’s a great thing to read before strapping on a VR helmet and blocking yourself off from the “real” world.

I still don’t understand Facebook

Facebook is really popular. It has over a billion accounts now. Everyone is using it. There are hunter-gatherer tribes posting selfies with the antelope they just killed for dinner. It’s everywhere. It’s unavoidable, like air and the ground.

And I still don’t get it.

This Wired article claims to explain the success: Why Facebook Is Killing It–Even When No One Else Is, but it doesn’t really explain much other than “it sells ads and bought companies with popular chat apps and is now featuring live video.” All that stuff is obviously contributing but for most people–and judging by what I observe on my commute on others’ mobile phones (it’s impossible to avoid, I swear) Facebook is still mainly about the News Feed, where friends and others post whatever they want but usually funny little stories or links or pictures of the antelope they killed for dinner.

Once you have more than a few friends who make more than a few posts the news feed can fill up quickly. You could spend most of your free time just scrolling through it, long before ever getting to the built-in apps, games, live chat and secret Facebook chambers.

But it’s all random stuff. There is no overall theme, no coherence. It’s logical that these things are absent, given that you are looking at what literally amounts to miscellaneous thoughts and commentary from a variety of people with varying tastes and interests. I just wonder what is supposed to compel me to read and perhaps contribute. The contribution thing for most is probably either a genuine desire to share (I saw something funny, other people will find it funny and be happy) or just ego-stroking/narcissism but now with the potential to reach millions instead of just those within earshot.

I don’t have a great urge to share. It’s why I make long rambling posts here and remain unconcerned that very few people will ever see them. Ego-stroking can be fun sometimes but too much puts hair on the palms of your hands.

I just don’t get it.

But dammit, I’m going to try. A co-worker recently added me as a friend and I promised I would post or something. It will all end in tears, I’m sure.

Share and like if you agree.

Yes, colds still suck

This should really be a Facebook non-content post but I only post on FB every six months or so as the mood strikes.

I have a cold and I don’t get colds very often but they still do indeed suck. The stuffy head, the lack of energy, the desire to nap at non-napping times, the urge to do a lot of nothing.

As I said to someone, I feel like a kitten — weak and fuzzy, but cute. More scruffy than cute at the moment. Maybe more of a tomcat kitten than an adorable one, perhaps.

Anyway, here’s to tea and warm blankets.

Spelling? Check.

I have been known to mock the occasional misspelling. I can’t explain why I do this. I recall vaguely from years ago that I read somewhere that spelling is not related to intelligence and can vouch for knowing people who are smart but fairly terrible at spelling. Much as I can’t explain why I might mock a misspelling, I likewise offer no insight as to why I generally do not have to look up a word in order to spell it correctly.

I am, however, ready to blame the Internet for making the general level of literacy (and spelling) that much worse. It’s a convenient scapegoat and it comes with lots of circumstantial evidence, like The Best Obnoxious Responses to Misspellings on Facebook. It’s quite possible every entry on the site is faked but they ring true.

This is almost like a comedy routine (warning: salty language):

Me, I don’t fuss over the occasional typo. I might raise an eyebrow when I see ‘rediculous’, I may open my mouth as if to say something after spotting a your/you’re slip. I pretty much pass right over its/it’s since that one just underscores how arbitrary and strange English is, anyway. But I do offer one warning:

‘No one’ is two words. Noone is not, unless you are maybe referring to Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits.

Like shrinking comics of yore, so goes Facebook

Back in the 1980s — you know, that decade that started over 30 years ago — Berke Breathed via Bloom County commented on how the comics section of newspapers was steadily shrinking. He didn’t mean fewer comics were being run. If anything, even more were being showcased. You can only prop up the section with Blondie and Beetle Bailey for so long. No, what he meant was the physical space being devoted to them was shrinking, resulting in strips that were smaller and more difficult to read. The logical conclusion he reached was that the comics section would eventually disappear into a black dot of illegibility.

As it turns out, newspapers will probably vanish before this can happen. Thank you, Internet, for helping save us from unnecessary eyestrain!

But wait, for as the Internet giveth, so does it taketh away.

As per usual Facebook has done another one of its seemingly arbitrarily updates to its site, making it ‘better’ in ways that may elude common folk. The biggest change is apparently the profile page. I check mine so infrequently I’m not sure exactly what is different except it has a strip of photos slapped along the top of it now. I do not understand the purpose or value of this. The other more noticeable change for me is a universal shrinkage of the font size. This doesn’t make the site more readable, it goes against the demographic trend of an aging population and it doesn’t really allow for more information to be displayed. It just makes all the text a bit smaller. I can easily simulate the old look reasonably enough by using the old CTRL-mousewheel trick so it doesn’t particularly affect me. Sometimes I wonder if Zuckerberg dictates these changes just because of the irresistible power to affect 500 million accounts all at once (quibble to journalists: Facebook has 500 million accounts, not 500 million users. I could go out and create 100 new accounts if I wanted to, each one setting the default size of the font to something different using the nigh-amazing CTRL-mousewheel trick). You may be thinking to yourself, “Is this just a real roundabout way of saying I’m getting old and I would prefer sites on the web to not shrink their fonts so my eyes don’t need to squint so much to keep reading them?” and my answer would be “No, haha, of course not!” Because the font is just too damn small for no good reason. And I went jogging last week, anyway. And I didn’t fall down and break my hip. So there.

Also while I’m here, the Royal Bank cartoon businessman mascot they use (I think his name is Arby — get it? LOL!!) is creepy as all get-out. Tip: You do not make your monolithic, billions-in-record-revenue-generating banking enterprise more cuddly and personable by creating a mascot in a BUSINESS SUIT. Especially one with no neck. Creepy.

I have still not found a use for Facebook

This could have been my Facebook status but I’ve already beaten that joke into the ground.

The subject line is still true, though. I am also becoming more aware of how all these social networking sites leave an easy-to-follow trail of crumbs for prospective employers to check out. Not that I’ve ever posted anything that would particularly get me knocked out of consideration for a job, it’s more the Big Brother aspect that gets me. One post I made here resulted in someone contacting me about it because I used words that were flagged by Google Alerts. Everyone watches everyone else on the world wide web. Quite the merry circle!

Mostly though I just don’t feel Facebook is a good fit for my rambling, verbose style.

UPDATE: After posting this, I checked Facebook and got the following. The timing is ironic, to say the least. And delicious!

The requested URL could not be retrieved

While trying to retrieve the URL:

(It was fixed by deleting the cookies for the site.)