Category Archives: Facebook

January 17, 2015, 1:07 pm

The Mysteries of Facebook: Part II

Anonymous-Mask-01Last night I broke my only New Year’s Resolution: don’t argue, or provoke others to argument, on social media. What I am talking about is what I call “the cycle.” This is a mental feedback loop of incessant open-ended arguing, often with insults and others jumping in and repeating arguments already made.This is accompanied by obsessive checking of Facebook (or Twitter) to see what the latest insult to my personal integrity is. It’s one of several things about Facebook that make me feel bad, just bad. It is also a humungous time waster.

The worst thing is that, when it happens, it is usually entirely my own fault.

Here’s what happens: scrolling through my feed, someone I do not know posts a comment or status update that has elements  that are bound to annoy me. These might include:  a statement that poses as radical, but actually just repeats a well-known political critique; an…

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January 13, 2015, 2:25 pm

The Mysteries of Facebook: Part I

Mark-Zuckerberg_5

You win, Mark Zuckerberg!

During the orientation for a meditation class I signed up to take this winter, the instructor notified us that we would need to make between 40 and 60 minutes a day available for our practice. “You need to figure out where you are going to find that time,” he said, calmly but firmly.

The first thought that popped into my head was: Facebook. Duh.

I spend a lot less time on Facebook now than I have in the past. Sometime last year I removed the Facebook app from my iPhone (by chance, I learned yesterday while listening to NPR that this might have already boosted my creativity by allowing me to be bored while waiting in line at Murray’s Bagels.) I consciously turn Facebook off when I am writing, so that my concentration is not interrupted by unnecessary multitasking. I decided that…

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September 25, 2014, 4:00 pm

Hello? No, Ello!

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 3.56.05 PMAs if we at Tenured Radical did not spend enough time on Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts, Skype and blogging, now there is this Ello thing. Ello? Ello is a new social networking site that advertises itself as “totally ad-free. Ello does not sell data about you to third parties, including advertisers and data brokers,” they promise.

News of this Ello started popping up in my Facebook feed last week. Queer academic colleagues were vowing to leave the Big Blue Monster because of a policy that forces San-Francisco based drag queens to use their legal names. It is not just drag queens, and has only been enforced in the Bay Area: I think Facebook is forcing everyone everywhere to use their legal name, but drag queens and friends of drag queens are particularly incensed about it for obvious reasons. Because everyone who is Leftish makes policy with their feet and their pocketbooks…

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December 28, 2012, 4:45 pm

Grading In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction

If you are my age, you remember a time, years ago, when some wag of a colleague would distribute a mimeographed list of verbal “boners” found in that semester’s student papers. Some of these could be verbalized, and still retain their maximum impact, but most required the visual media we then had at our disposal.  Student boners, which would now be called bloopers for obvious reasons, usually involved a homynym, a misspelling, an ungrammatical twist or a peculiar metaphor. You had to see it to get the full yuck. One blooper that I recall vividly from my TA days was a response to a short answer exam question for the nineteenth century U.S. History final, “Identify and state the significance of  the reaper.” Answer: “The raper was a machine that performed the work of ten men.”

Humiliating students in their absence is, of course, a symptom of very intelligent, highly verbal and very…

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July 26, 2011, 6:33 pm

Who Needs A Faculty Advisor When You Can Have An Adaptive Advising Tool?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving Tennessee a $1 million grant to help college students take the most efficient steps to a degree. The grant will fund a new computerized advising program….The computer software looks at students’ transcripts and experience and suggests areas the student may be interested in – and the courses to take to follow that path. Joe White, Nashville Public Radio, July 26, 2011

When the neoliberal education professionals adjunctified higher education, I always wondered how they were going to solve the problem of not having full-time faculty available to actually meet with students. Now we know:  getting a good grade in a course will be similar to clicking “Like” on Facebook; students can be advised by a computer to take other courses like that one.  Thanks to the Gates Foundation, students at Austin Peay State University will also be…

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October 5, 2010, 11:47 am

Straight People, Listen! The Pervasiveness of Cruelty In Mass Culture

Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. “It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, “Come on, come on, everyone.” Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.


“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

                                          Shirley Jackson, The Lottery (1948)

Last weekend the Radical household went to see The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010), otherwise known as “The Facebook movie.”  Starring the eerily enigmatic Jessie Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, it is a must-see, a fast-paced drama about the birth of the social networking site that any fool can use, and any fool does.  I left the theater feeling slightly soiled, in part because…

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September 2, 2010, 1:24 pm

Sharing the Weirdness: Facebook, Meetings and The Beginning of School

Yesterday, as at least some of my Facebook “friends” know, I had to attend a meeting and realized too late that I probably should not have done so. It was a meeting for faculty advisers, one that exists in order to remind us that advising (particularly for first years and transfers) is an important job; to thank us for doing it; to remind us of the resources available to our students; and to instruct us in the ways of the on-line registration system. I tried to remember the last year I had attended this meeting and couldn’t, so I went.

Mistake. There was nothing I didn’t know already or that wasn’t in a handout, even though all kinds of worthy people spoke, spoke well, and spoke rather succinctly. When they weren’t succinct, it wasn’t their fault, as periodically someone in the audience became hopelessly confused. If I can say I learned anything it was that faculty really ought not…

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September 24, 2009, 8:56 pm

Speaking Of Gender, Facebook Is Concerned About Mine

I read somewhere recently (and I thought it was the New York Times but now I can’t find the story) that a great many women are removing their date of birth from Facebook because they are sick of getting gross and insulting ads about their bodies. It is simply true that nothing is free, even on the internet: everything one signs up for has some kind of questionnaire aimed at creating a marketing profile for you — oh, excuse me, “opportunities” for you — that can be squeezed in everywhere. You can always check the box that prevents them from selling your identity to every spammer alive, but what you can’t prevent is advertising tailored crudely to those of your gender and age.

Yahoo! is terrible, although I realize that were I to agree to pay for email I could get rid of their ads in a heartbeat. Endless acai berry products are the best ones. I’m not sure whether my least favorite a…

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