Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The most bizarre sentence I've ever written

My father is on Pinterest.

I can't think of a sentence I've ever written more bizarre than that. Why he is on Pinterest is a total mystery to me, as well as how. I guess one of his social media pals signed him up.

He’s already on Facebook. At his request a few years ago I signed him up. At first he was into it. I’d get emails from former high school girlfriends and showrunners saying, “Hey, your dad befriended me.”

God bless him that he wants to stay current. And it’s not like he’s posting baby pictures of me for TBT so I’ve got no problem. But it just speaks to how widespread this notion of social media has become.

I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Dad on Pinterest makes more sense than me on Linkedin. I never use it except to endorse friends. I don’t think Lincoln Center is going to produce my play based on reading my Linkedin profile. I actually tried to unsubscribe to Linkedin and it won’t let me. I am signed up for life and beyond. In fact, I’ve somehow gotten “connect” requests from a person I know has died. Linkedin must really have reach.

I got on these sites initially to help drive traffic to my blog. But I must confess I spend way more time on Facebook than I anticipated. It’s nice to keep up with people who otherwise would fly under my radar. On the other hand, I never know what to do when someone announces a loved one has died or they have been diagnosed with some disease. How do you click “like?’”

I also tend not to comment on someone’s status because I then get email alerts anytime anyone else also comments. So if someone says their 104 year-old grandmother died, if I offer a condolence my in-box will be filled with 160 emails from people I don’t know also offering sympathy.

Similarly, I rarely wish people a Happy Birthday. It’s not that I have anything against it, and I am much more apt to click “like” when it’s their birthday as opposed to their death, but I just never remember to check who’s up that day. And then I feel guilty when hundreds of people wish me a Happy Birthday. So if you’re one of my Facebook friends, please accept my birthday wishes for whenever it is. I’m thinking of you on your special day.

It bothers me that social media sites create whole new areas of unintentional inconsideration. I look like an asshole because I didn’t congratulate someone for some posted achievement or offer sympathy for some loss when the truth is I just wasn’t on Facebook for a few days and missed it. If someone is nominated for an Emmy and I don’t congratulate him is he going to think I’m jealous and resentful? Again, what an asshole I am! Forget that I had a power outage at my house and couldn’t get on line for two days and everything in my freezer spoiled.

And then there are Facebook friends who I am very fond of personally but think their politics are insane. So I never “like” anything they post. And eventually I become afraid of them.

When I post something I try to make it humorous. But as a comedy writer I feel almost obligated to. Plus, I don’t have cute cats so what else am I gonna post? 

Same with Twitter. It’s a forum to toss out one-liners. I don’t get to hear actual laughter, but I can judge how successful the jokes are by the number of people who retweet me. Twenty retweets = one guffaw.

On Twitter I’m an asshole because I don’t automatically follow people who follow me. I don’t even know most of these people. I follow a few select folks whose tweets are either funny or about baseball. So again, I apologize. And ask you, how can you follow 10,000 people? When do you have time for anything else? And of the 10,000, how many are actually interesting? Six? Why not just follow them?

So I continue to participate in social media. You’re welcome to follow me on @KenLevine on Twitter if you so desire. I’ll try to be funny enough so you don’t unfollow me. That’s another way to judge my one-liners. I post one and a half hour later twenty people unfollow me. That also equals a guffaw, by the way.

I’m not on Pininterest yet. I’ll have to ask Dad what the advantage is.


Hamid said...

Ken, have you seen Easy A? If not, I urge you to watch it. It's a brilliant comedy starring the amazing Emma Stone. Anyway, your post today reminded me of a great quote in the movie about social media by the teacher character played by Thomas Haden Church:

I don't know what your generation's fascination is with documenting your every thought, but I can assure you, they're not all diamonds. "Roman is having an OK day and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station. Raise the roof." Who gives a rat's ass?

The icing on the cake was Emma Stone's sarcastic reply:

He got a Coke Zero AGAIN? Ah, that Roman. Incorrigible.

Bill Jones said...

On Facebook, if you comment on a post, the next time you get an alert that someone else has commented, click the "X" in the upper right hand corner of the alert, and you'll have an option for not receiving any more alerts about that post (e.g., other comments). That's about the only thing I know about Facebook.

Have you seen "American Sniper" yet? I have not, and I have not really been following the "controversy" over various reactions to it. But I am genuinely interested in your review, especially since it's Clint Eastwood's first movie since the much-maligned (including by you) Jersey Boys.

slgc said...

On Facebook you can go into Settings and then Notifications to edit your e-mail options. Then you can set yourself up so that you aren't barraged with e-mails every time you comment on a post.

Mike Barer said...

I saw your name on the "History Of Baseball 50s. 60s, and 70s" so I joined and have had fun.

Oat Willie said...

I like the commercial with the senior lady unfriending people with her bulletin board.
"That's not how that works. That's not how any of this works."

Anonymous said...

Hey love Easy A.
And this is an amazing blog.Love it. I am not done watching it again.

blinky said...

Pinterest is for chicks, man. Endless pictures of jewelery, fashion, cute vases, food...
Men go to other sites that feature endless scroll down pages of pictures.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Isn't Pinterest a clone of tumblr... which in and of itself is a clone of Twitter, only with pictures?

Craig said...

Ken, I tried following you on Twitter, but it was primarily notices of posts to your blog, which I always read anyways. As you noted, who has time to read everything...so I unfollowed. But I'm still a loyal reader here.

I have a similar problem following celebrities where the same material is posted to Twitter, Instagram, FB, etc.

Oat Willie said...

Ever check out Sarah Silverman's Twitter? Almost every entry is a referral to something called Whosay, which races to load popups on to my screen.

VP81955 said...

IIRC, Pinterest was founded by some women in Iowa, skewing female and what some derisively call "flyover country." If social sites were magazines, Pinterest would be Better Homes and Gardens (published by Des Moines-based Meredith).

The weirdest sentence I ever wrote -- and I noted it as such at the time -- was for a Carole & Co. entry in February 2011 about psychic Sylvia Browne's latest book, "Afterlives Of The Rich And Famous" (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/386391.html). Both Carole Lombard and Clark Gable were among its subjects, making it fair game for my blog (as well as to get a few zingers in).

Browne wrote of Clark and Carole, "I asked my spirit guide (Francine) if they ever got together, and she said that they're very much in love 'over here.' When she says 'over here,' she means the Other Side. They rowboat together, they walk together."

Below those lines, I used a pic of the Gables in a boat, pheasant hunting in South Dakota in 1941, and added: "But do they hunt together? ... Perhaps on that astral plane, the pheasants feel no pain. (The preceding sentence is arguably the weirdest one I've ever written.)"

Oh, and according to Sylvia, "In actuality, the afterlife is 3 feet above our ground level. ... It has libraries, it has record centers, it has concert halls, it has everything except the negativity." To which I commented, "Three feet off the ground? I guess that means anyone who found a way to visually experience both planes simultaneously would be eye level to all sorts of afterlife kneecaps."

ScottyB said...

Unless pics of naked women are involved, what's really the point of it all?

cd1515 said...

Question: the sitcom ads that I see now seem to promote beautiful people trying to be funny. I guess they're trying to copy the Friends model, but in your experience are beautiful people any less or more funny than average looking people?

Dan Ball said...

Go, Cliff, go!

My mother-in-law calls it Pininterest. In the beginning, I thought I'd use it as a way of touting the nerdy stuff I bought, like old vinyl soundtracks or old Starlog magazines, but I lost my Pinterest in that pretty quick. The last pic I posted was when I bought PSYCHO II, POLTERGEIST II, and RAMBO III, all three terrific Jerry Goldsmith albums.

One time my wife went to a Pinterest party with a bunch of her gal friends. Ken, I'd like to see your dad go to one of those.

Terrence Moss said...

Random longshot question completely unrelated to this posting: I just watched an episode of "The Jeffersons" written by Laura Levine.

Any relation?

Kathleen said...

I'm so glad someone else experiences social media syndrome. I don't know the rules and always feel like I'm offending someone somewhere by not "Liking", "Favoriting" or "Retweeting". I hardly ever go on Facebook and have experienced the same guilt about missing a death, anniversary, or birthday. Wah.

Buttermilk Sky said...

So it has nothing to do with Harold Pinter?

Never mind.

Roger Owen Green said...

I miss a LOT on FB.
Often, I DM someone on FB just so I DON'T get a stream of follow-on comments.

Gerry said...

Ken, don't bother your dad. I can answer your question: there IS no advantage to being on Pinterest.

Johnny Walker said...

Social media. I find it's always best in small doses :-/