Scooby-Doo, I Facebook you
Facebook is fantastic. It gives us an unprecedented opportunity to appear in public in our underwear. Unfortunately, for most of us this turns out to be brightly colored Scooby-Doo boxer shorts.
I mean that metaphorically, of course.
One Sunday evening not too long ago I came across a Facebook post by an old friend. He said: “Started watching the Super Bowl while eating supper, and am still waiting for a truly creative commercial.”
This woke me right up. Here I was, chowing Twizzlers and finding out (with detailed photographic evidence) whose grandkids had spent the day making snowballs, and at that moment I was supposed to be at a Super Bowl party, chowing hot wings, watching the most important sporting event of the century, and finding out if we were going to be treated to a Halftime Wardrobe Malfunction with somebody more interesting than Janet Jackson.
I hate missing out on hot wings.
Fighting off a surge of panic, I looked below my friend’s post at the comments from some of his other friends. The gist of what they were all saying was, “The Super Bowl is next week... you’re watching the Pro Bowl.”
What a relief!
Ironically, my friend with the sketchy knowledge of the NFL Postseason is also one of the wisest, most intelligent people I know. He taught science at the middle school in our little town and retired after many years of being that one really special teacher who changes the lives of countless kids.
In his defense, there is no disgrace in totally not giving a crap about the most important sporting event of the century. Other than the possibility of missing out on those hot wings, and maybe a truly creative commercial or two, I totally don’t either.
What is interesting is that our modern information age makes it possible for us to share every one of our brain farts — our Scooby-Doo boxers — in real time, with everyone we know.
Let's say you do something really stupid. Let's say you unscrew the cap on the bottle of dried habanero pepper flakes instead of using the flip-up thing that covers the shaker holes, then dump the whole six-ounce bottle of slow, painful death on top of your slice of pizza. In the old days, your buddy would call you an idiot, you would agree, then you would scrape off as much pepper as possible and wash down that slice with a 12-pack of beer. Maybe two.
These days you and your buddy are honor-bound to document the incident for social media posterity. You snap some iPhone shots of the mound of habaneros. You go to video mode and shoot establishing shots of your face and your buddy's face, expressing surprise. You shoot some B-roll footage of the pizza box, the beer, and for no real reason, your buddy's cat over on the couch licking his nether parts.
Then your buddy films you taking your first bite. Since this is now a full-on multimedia project, you don't scrape the habaneros off the slice; you just go for it. He catches the way your eyes bug out, and the way you break into an immediate dripping sweat, and the cyanotic blue glow of your cheeks. He documents your desperate grab for the beer. He does a slow circular pan around the EMTs as they perform their resuscitation attempts.
Once the film has been edited and uploaded to your timeline, along with a concurrent Twitter post and Tumblr update, the fun really starts. The first 15 or 20 comments are all along the lines of, "What's that stuff?" and, "One time I spilled a bunch of cinnamon too! LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL!" and, "Did you get my text about switching shifts next Saturday?"
After you wade into the comment stream to let everybody know that "them ain't no cinnamon flakes," you begin to get the more poignant comments like, "Dummy!" and "Geeze, you doof!" and, "What's the MATTER with you?"
Before long, one of your Christian friends somehow locates a Psalm that deals with this very situation; "Eat thou not the pepperonis of perdition lest ye be consumed in the eternal flames of habanero..." Helen Helpful, who apparently believes that everything she sees on Facebook is occurring live suggests, "Quick, eat 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise and drink some pickle juice. But not the sweet kind."
An environmentally-oriented friend posts, "Now, that's what I call global warming ;-D" Then a troll comes along with, "Oh, right, blamm it on globul worming. U moran!"
Then people start sharing your post on their own timelines. In less than an hour you have a minor Facebook sensation on your hands, with 1,596 comments and more than 2,500 "likes." You are the newest Social Media Celebrity!
And the profit you earn for burning out your esophagus on camera is:
Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Bupkis. A couple of thousand close friends, most of whom you have never met, have had a chance to check out your Scooby-Doo boxers, and the only thing you have to show for it is that everything you eat is going to taste like habaneros for a couple of months. Plus, while the EMTs were working on you, you missed the Super Bowl.
It's a brave new world!
Mike Ball is the Erma Bombeck Award-winning author of "What I've Learned So Far..." and the books "What I've Learned... So Far Part I: Bikes, Docks & Slush Nuggets" and "What I've Learned... So Far Part II: Angels, Chimps & Tater Mitts."