Posts Tagged 'Facebook'

On This Day in…

Along with reminders about friends’ birthdays, upcoming events, suggestions for people to friend and pages to like and, of course, sponsored ads, Facebook’s marginalia now includes a category entitled, “On This Day in 2010” that displays flotsam and jetsam plucked from the sea of our own posts exactly one year prior. My friends’ “Previous Status Updates” are salvaged in the same screen area, though there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to their selection, chronological or otherwise. Long-forgotten posts wash in with the tide like messages in a bottle.

I try to tune out the auto-generated noise on Facebook’s right side, so I didn’t notice when this insidious memory aid made its unheralded debut – when it comes to inventing new ways to mine our personal data, Facebook reserves the pre-modern woman’s prerogative to change her mind; by this day next year, this retrospective rubric may well be ancient history in social media terms. In the meantime, it underscores the irony of archiving our Facebook ephemera. Continue reading ‘On This Day in…’

The Fox at the Door

“One of the most time consuming things to have is an enemy.”

I plucked this plainspoken truth from E. B. White’s “A Report in January,” posted from his Maine farm on January 30, 1958.

EBW’s immediate enemy was the fox terrorizing his hens. Even as he types,
he is on the watch, a loaded shotgun at the ready.

He wants to destroy my form of society–a society of free geese, of Bantams unconfined. So I react in the natural way, building up my defenses, improving my weapons and my aim, spending more and more time on the problems of supremacy….When I realize what a vast amount of time the world would have for useful and sensible tasks if each country could take its mind off ‘the enemy,’ I am appalled.

EBW’s marauding fox was, of course, the least of the “red” enemies in the Cold War era. Earlier that month the Evil Empire’s eye in the sky, Sputnik 1, had tumbled from its orbit, and the day after this essay was posted, the U.S. would launch its own entrant in the Space Race (Explorer 1). With the threat of spy satellites and long-range nuclear missiles, neither Superpower could afford to take its mind off the enemy. Time consuming (and costly), indeed, to have an enemy. Then, as now.
Continue reading ‘The Fox at the Door’

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