I awakened this morning worried about my Facebook "living room." After all I have acquired some important guests as friends on Facebook, and Facebook is everybody's new living room, right?
What triggered my doubts, my concerns was the arrival, as a Facebook friend, of quiet, serious, thoughtful Austin Beutner who's running for mayor; he's a multi-zillionaire, has been Mayor Villaraigosa's go-to-guy when the plumbing goes out in the entire city (read - ex-head of DWP). Austin asked me yesterday - out of the blue - to be his friend (I can just see him now, tapping away at his computer, probably with one finger- guys like this normally have their agreements, aides-de-memoir, litigation, typed up by secretaries who use all their fingers; maybe they've even got typing robots!) Of course, I should be flattered that Austin would want to drop by and look around my Facebook living room. He joins a growing list of slumming high-hatters who've popped their heads into chez Schwada.
But I'm a little concerned about a culture clash: How will these new "quality" guests (hmmmm?) get along with my other Facebook friends? My Facebook living room has been a pretty cozy crowd, littered mostly with newshounds (including, dare I say it out-loud, a lot of blue-collar folks in the biz and not a few folks who should really be spending time in cork-lined rooms, not with Proust, but with Bart Simpson) - all fully capable of being supremely goofy, crude or - worse - banal. It's like when you were in high school. You had different cliques. The kids who were nerds, played chess and read Crime and Punishment. And then there was the crowd whose parents lived in trailer homes and threw open their beer-filled refrigerator to underage teenagers and, for kicks, this crowd would drive around the countryside with shotguns blowing up farmer's mailboxes (I hope the statute of limitations on this is well over). You couldn't mix the two cliques. Oil and water.
And this banal Facebook conversation-stuff is not something people of quality want to deal with. It's like you have a mayoral candidate in your Facebook living room, and your drunken childhood friend starts talking about his flat-tire on the freeway and how the AAA guy ripped off his bumper trying to tow it. Then, he slams down another beer, and turns to The Magnificent One and says, apropos of nothing, "Hey dude, you got a cigarette?" I mean things like this can happen on Facebook. My friends don't know the other guy at all. They can't see each other. No visual clues. No accents. Like the one guy can't see he's talking to someone wearing a Gorgio Armani sportcoat and dancing slippers (without socks), and has Yale Phi Beta Kappa key hanging on a gold chain from his belt (does this really happen?). After all, The Magnificent One could just be another one of Schwada's goof-ball friends.
The other day I watched some of this unfold in real time and I was horrified. Indeed, embarrassed. A friend on Facebook was actually describing in intimate detail, for all the world to read, just how difficult it is to make the transition going south and then west from the Hollywood Freeway to the 134. This was so mind-bogglingly mundane and idiotic that I wanted to de-friend this woman immediately but I couldn't find the plug-in, the download, the upload, the button, the whatever to terminate her. (Note to Facebook: You need to develop a clearly identifiable bright red "KILL" button on your site). And then, other friends chimed in and commented; in no time, there was this hideously long string of my friends commenting eagerly, sympathizing, almost drooling. It was so pathetic. I thought: my God, now I know how Stalin must have felt about all those wretched, annoying kulaks in the 1930's. What's to be done with all these peasants! They're just unteachable! Their muddy feet, their coarse manners - too much!
If Stalin was on Facebook, he'd know what to do. So borrowing from the Great Dictator, I'm putting all my Facebook friends on final notice, warning them that quality folks are now populating the Schwada-Facebook living room. So it's time clean up their act, step up, dudes and dudettes! Don't chew with your mouth open; sip, don't guzzle, your beer (craft beers only please); no double-dipping with the hors d'oeuvres and when you do have something to say, preface it with words, like "indeed" or "that's so charming" or "very clever of you mon petite chou-chou."
And as for topics: let's elevate them. Obama's jobs speech, good, especially if it's curated with hyperlinks to Robert Reich's personal website or to a Ben Bernacke quote found only in the New York Review of Books. The opening Thursday at the LA Louver gallery (a room of aging art mavens, talking to each other over "real drinks" and nibblies amid a pile of muddy-looking Leon Kousoff paintings, selling for over $200,000 each) - even better. Talk about your animals? Okay, as long as they're pedigreed (no trans-ethnic dogs allowed). Verboten: describing in real-time that you are shopping, especially if you're looking for a new transmission for your 2000 Huyandai Accent. Chronicling your purchase of Gucci bags or that your hair is being done by Helen Miren's coiffeur-ista - perhaps, but only if discussed in a fresh, inviting tone, with spirited language (and if it's a Kardashian hair-dresser, you must get very snotty).
I think you get the picture. Facebook friends, thank you for your cooperation, and please stop double-dipping the celery sticks. Where the hell do you think you are? That goes for you, too, Austin. Get your Cole-Hahn tassle-loafers off my cable-table!