Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eat It! (With Apologies to Weird Al Yankovic)

I, too, woke up to the new Facebook interface and, with my aversion to change, was appalled. Miraculously I was able to look at it with some objectivity. As I clumsily navigated the terrain I came, calmly, to two conclusions. 1. The new interface does not work for the way I use Facebook*. 2. This constant change thing keeps reminding me of something, but what?

Like many of my friends I do some of my best thinking in the shower and after my shower I'd figured it out! The way Facebook keeps changing their interface reminds me of this very specific thing that pretty much every toddler on the planet does.

There's a point in human development when most kids need a bunch of fuel because they're growing so fast but have zero attention span so they rarely eat at a designated, seated meal time. As a result caregivers wind up just laying out an all day buffet. Every questioning look from the child is met with an offer of cheerios or bananas** or crackers or grapes or a piece of cheese or please-god-just-eat-something-with-your-brand-new-razor-sharp-teeth! Much of this food is ingested and goes on to create cells which help the child to develop beyond behavior reminiscent of a senior citizens pleasure cruise. Except that kids, on some level, recognize their bounty and toddlers are naturally pretty loving so they want to share it.

If you've spent any significant time with small children you've been in the delicate diplomatic position of being offered a piece of food that has spent the last thirty minutes alternating between sweaty fist and juicy gums. With a grin the size of Alaska the kid beams up at you while shoving this gourmet nibble halfway up your nose. If you have any reflexes left at all you can usually feint away before contact is made but you are then faced with the most intricate negotiation anyone ever attempts. You don't want the food to go to waste. You don't want the food to be rubbed all over your person. You sure as shit don't want to eat it so you have to get the toddler to eat it.

"Oh, that looks delicious!" you say, "Why don't you eat it?"

Half mashed browning banana still being shoved at you, closer to your neck now. Don't let your earring get caught in it.

"Thank you! I'm so full, though. Look at my belly. So full!"

Laughter. Some spit in it. Smell of ever-so-slightly rotting banana beginning to singe your nasal passages. Banana shoved at your face again. Some gets on your lips. You resist wiping it off immediately which makes you feel braver than a prisoner of war.

"Oh yummy!" Suppress a gag. "This is sooooooo goood!" Use flat of your hand on any dry, clear surface of the child's arm to gently press both arm and banana toward him. "Wow, yummy! You try. Go on, you eat it. Yeah! Yay  for eating! Yay bananas! Yay! Yay! Yay!"

Wipe banana, tears and flop sweat from your face. Run!

This morning Mark Zuckerberg smeared banana all over my glasses.

Way back along, probably the first change in Facebook layout I remember, this concept of "Top Stories" came out. I didn't even look at it because it had taken me so long to get my feed to look the way I needed it to that I was afraid to press any buttons at all.

Then "Top Stories" was featured in another change. All the feeds were forcibly changed to show off their delightfulness and you had to learn to press a button to get to a "Most Recent," i.e. chronological, feed. Though I prefer everything to just stay where I left it I am actually capable of pressing a button so I did that every time and I got my chronological order and I stopped thinking about "Top Stories." I am a woman who unthinkingly stepped over two flat packed bookcases for several months rather than face the challenge of putting them together. Forgetting why I push that one extra button to get where I want to go is child's play to me, if you'll pardon the expression.

Which brings us to today. I've asked and am waiting for someone to give me the secret formula but from what I can tell "Top Stories" is pinned to my feed like a note home to the aforementioned toddler's parents. It is pinned with a big, vintage diaper pin through about fourteen layers of winter gear so it cannot be shaken loose or lost. This means there's only this I can possibly say to Mark Zuckerberg, "Oh that looks yummy! No, I am too full. You eat it."

*I use Facebook primarily to keep in touch with people far away and people who I haven't seen in a long time. I got into using it because people I like use it and that was how I could be part of their daily goings on. They may or may not be people I interact with frequently. From what I can tell Top Stories is culled either randomly or by frequency of interaction with the other user. It may demote things if they have links that look spammy, too, and that's proven to be an imprecise process. Whatever way it goes it means I won't get things in a timely manner (things in Top Stories don't seem to be in the chronological feed so when things happened is unclear unless you're really reading the fine print) and I may not get updates at all from people I haven't spoken to in a while because I guess Facebook assumes that hiatus of a friendship is tantamount to cancellation.***

**I hate bananas. No, really, hate. Hate the smell, hate the taste, hate the texture. They make me gag. My greatest act of love for pretty much any kid is to assist them in the consumption of bananas and banana-related products. Toddlerdom is perilous to me.

***Many people are talking about moving to Google+ but there are grave concerns in sex writing circles (and others) about their full name requirement and the implications that has on privacy and therefore personal safety so it doesn't seem like a place I want to be yet. I'll be sad to lose contact with people if I leave Facebook and don't go to G+ but that's a first world problem and I'll survive. It may be that the future of Facebook and Google+ doesn't include my age group or people with my usage concerns and, as with Netflix, that's their prerogative. Far be it from me to interfere. I will still thank them for the hilarious image of Mark Zuckerberg smashing a banana in my face.****



  1. you just described one of the worst reasons to be around a toddler.

    i have a thing about gross food or former-food. i can't even deal with lunch containers Chris has left in the sink with food in them. the whole thing just squicks me out.

    and yes, this thing with Facebook...ugh. i'm equally adverse to change when it's forced on me. give me a *choice*!

  2. I like seeing things in order of when it's posted. I liked getting emails when people had commented on my status. I could reply without having to go back over to facebook. Now I have to actually check up and be on facebook. Fuck that shit.

  3. Oh Kizz, you always have the PERFECT analogies! Smeared banana face for sure! Yes, I was also appalled to return from vacation to this abomination called the new Facebook format. I'm so disgusted with it I'm avoiding going there. But, like you, I can't bear to move to Google Plus just yet. So I guess I'm in an in between place with FB. I'm always like, why mess with a good thing?