Filter, "One"

>> Thursday, April 19, 2012

I just kinda love this noisy cover of the Harry Nilsson song that Filter did for the X-Files movie soundtrack way-back-when. No idea what's supposed to be happening in this video (and can you get more nineties than those visuals, by the way?), but it has William Davis' Cancer Man making the creepy cameo, and by the time that movie came out he and Mitch Pileggi were the best things about the show that weren't a gorgeous redhead.

There was sort of an inspiration for sliding this "One" (see what I did there?) out of the Trivial Pursuit longbox: I ran into a piece in Slate, "Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely" written in response to an Atlantic article with the troll-ey headline, "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" Don't feel obligated to click those links; I have to admit I read the Slate piece and then tried to read the Atlantic piece but found myself tl;dr-ing it and sort of skimmed through it to see if the author, Stephen Marche, actually had anything interesting to say (as far as I took in at a glance, no). The Slate piece probably says everything that might need to be said, though Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post gets points for arguing that the problem with Facebook isn't that it makes you lonely, it's that it ends up sticking you with all the people you thought you escaped from when you graduated high school.

I'm biased, of course: The ScatterKat found me again through Facebook and we agreed to have lunch and one thing led back around to another and now we've been dating a year (this also challenges Petri's thesis, no?). So much for loneliness, anyway. I find that I now have a network of friends--actual friends, I'd call them, whom I trust and would confide in and everything--whom I've never ever met, who I may not ever get around to meeting but we've all enriched each other's lives in various ways. And I remain stunned and impressed by the way in which technology is making it possible to have geographically non-contiguous communities brought together by passions and actual commonalities deeper than mere geographical accidents.

If you want to talk about being stuck with people and being lonely, imagine somebody who is the only _______ in a small town or parochial neighborhood or borough within a larger city; _______ could be anything you like, something ethnic or gender or otherwise or all of the above, as general or specific as you like: the only gay, black, Jewish, Russian-speaking, mystery-reading collector of rare antique knitting needles, maybe, whatever. And here this person is alone in a crowd, wishing he could talk to some other Russian-speaking GBJ dude about Skein Of The Crime, but all his neighbors are so not-into-that. Thirty years ago he would have been suicidal, these days there's probably an online forum where he can chat in Russian with all the other GBJs about Maggie Sefton and Miss Marple trivia.

This is personal for me, admittedly, in that I am a nerd and while I grew up in a big enough city and went to a large enough high school to have around a half-dozen nerd friends, we certainly weren't mainstream in our affection for Star Wars and Tolkien and our gatherings to play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons instead of paying attention to sports as all Southerners are implicitly expected to do. Thus, we spent a hideous amount of time being even mopier and more depressed than even ordinary teenagers. Not to mention, I'm afraid I have to clarify, that our batch of nerds was only technically a batch of nerds, in that a couple of us were actually goths who didn't match a set or something and so they didn't necessarily play D&D but they had nowhere else to go and we at least appreciated their vampire fetishes, etc.

Anyway, now those kids who would be like we were then all have Facebook accounts and message boards, and while I don't think adolescence is any more pleasant or kind than it's ever been, I do suspect it's a bit less lonely as all the hideous children now have ways of, if nothing else, discovering that while they may be the only members of their various tribes unlucky enough to have been born in Podunk, the tribe itself is millions-strong and if they can just endure the momentary awfulness of a few years before they can go somewhere else, they have friends amongst whom the squares are the exotic and uncomfortable ones.

Sometimes I like to imagine that we're moving into a world in which there are no national borders, just self-governing tribes of people living in cyberspace. This is just a fantasy, I realize. Please don't jump in and tell me how silly that is, because I already know it's a ridiculous idea and cyberspace is merely an extension of the meatspace history sticks us with. Oh, and, yeah, I should add that meatspace is full of niftiness, and I'm not really glamorizing some kind of utopian ideal where we're all pasty-faced, slack-jawed fatbags drying up in front of our CRTs. Matter-of-fact, most of the stuff that's worth communing about online is meatspace stuff, which I hope is obvious. No, I mean, it's more of an idea of tribal unity based on who you are versus what or where you are. I just think that part of it is beautiful, really.


Megan Friday, April 20, 2012 at 11:24:00 PM EDT  

If anything, Facebook and Twitter keep me from being lonely.

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