This one is a bit critical. You have been warned. The next one will have sugar added. But it is punctuated with frivolity to make things more bearable for the Reader with some of my favorite songs from the G+ era, and images from the Bussard Collector.
Today while perusing international headlines I was reminded of the time I shared a photo and description of some bread pudding I made and was harangued by an English person because it wasn’t an example of early 1950s British post-war food rationing. BREAD PUDDING CANNOT HAVE ANYTHING FUN OR INTERESTING IN IT. I think there was an implication that if I was being “fancy” with it, I was insulting people who knew it only as desperation pudding. THERE IS A RIGHT AND WRONG WAY TO MAKE EVERY FOOD YOU GUYS.
Whereas I was taught to take bread, milk, eggs, sugar, and build on that however I wished to do, not just as a last ditch effort at dessert, but maybe sometimes just that.
I’ve been even poorer than I am now, which is hard to reconcile, since things can’t be a whole lot worse and still hang together, but I do know about making a treat for the kids from Grape-Nuts and an old apple. Never, though, had I imagined being confronted with an admonition regarding The One True Bread Pudding. I mean, Google it? There are as many ways to make bread pudding as there are people willing to eat it.
Why am I sharing this? Well. Something important continually reinforced at Google Plus is that linear insular thought is by no means a “white American” phenomenon. My own insular view had been that there weren’t as many narrow thinkers as there really, really are. In every aspect of daily life, apparently. It grew exhausting, because it was one thing to realize people are politically naive or ignorant or lacking in context, but fully another to realize that no matter the topic, there were always going to be arguments about the One True Way of it all. Even by otherwise intelligent people.
Some of the things people humorlessly and tediously argue over include: ketchup, daylight saving time, Marvel vs DC, and something I enjoy that you’d never try again because of that one time 20 years ago that you had a bad version of it so that’s all it could ever be, ew, the worst.
And the lack of awareness about how other people live astounded me. The You Lot contingent drove me mad. What do you know about 325 million people hailing from every part of the world living across a vast geographically complex continent that you can blithely drill it all down to “You Lot Think XYZ?”
Here on this vast expanse, we don’t even agree about what goes on a hamburger. And why should we? But this taught me that smaller countries that were previously very homogenous had a certain long time order to their lives that has really never existed here. And the remnants of that life still inform many of their views.
Which is how some of you got the Brexit fiasco, and how we got to the point where 1/3 of people in our own space think their “way of life” is built on a zero sum mode of reality; if anyone else’s life improves, it is at the expense of their own, because they live according to a fairly narrow archaic train of thought; much like in some parts of India where people still live according to the caste their grandparents were born into. And so we have a president the rest of the world laughs at and despises, and no matter how awful he is on a daily basis, it never matters to his contingent, because they know that they know that they know how things ought to be.
But it isn’t only the people we think are on “the other side” who are like this.
As much as the rest of us acknowledge the mutability of humanity, there’s a sizeable number of people who, liberal-minded or not, see things only according to their own light, through their own filters, and by their own train track logic. You might be one of them, though you are a busy bee online sharing the best activist memes and Thinking Well of People Who Are Different From You.
I realize this sounds mean, but I’ll distill it down to two things:
1. Never assume the experience you’ve had or read about is the One. I bet, for example, if I visited Britain, I would not find that people eat only curry and chips and puddings made from cheap white sandwich loaf. Don’t be like Trump with his goddamn “Many People Have Told Me,” because it’s an invention of a narrow mind that needs to be The Correct Person At All Times. Yes, you. You were shown that the thing you posted about the other side was entirely fabricated, but because you can’t bear to be wrong, you made it about your “philosophies” instead of just admitting for once that you’d been had. I think you think you are in a competition 100% of the time, which, honestly, sounds completely exhausting, and not at all self-aware.
And if you, a person from Somewhere Else, visited Portland or Orlando or LA or New York, you have seen one city in the U.S during one season. That’s all. You are not an expert on any aspect of America because of that and a few exciting TV shows any more than I am an expert about The Correct Way to Make Pasties because I lived in Michigan for six years and also have watched Midsomer Murders.
2. This matters so so so much right now, as the political atmosphere in many parts of the world is burgeoning with dangerous ideals, and most of us don’t realize at any time how much it matters because our daily lives have changed very little so far. Here we are on the internet talking about Umbrella Academy, right? “That’s how they get you.” It’s, nearly literally, bread and circuses. It is also, to mix metaphors, that we are frogs in water which is being heated to boiling point—nearly literally.
So yes, I will miss Google Plus greatly. It was a good nearly eight years, and what doomed it was not the endless experimentation we were quietly put through, but the general attitudes people have about it and everything else: false perceptions, hasty judgments, impatience, and a sudden bandwagon rush to embrace Facebook that I bet a whole lot of those same people are now regretting. Hahahahahhhhaaaaaa.
We could have had it all, and nearly did.
But I won’t miss all of what we had; it was as riddled with the truth about humanity as anything could be: We have a whole lot of potential, but down here at the root level, we’re just well-dressed ants living beneath a decaying log. We don’t need to compete with each other to be the best at being poor or at being “open-minded” or anything else. We just need to keep from setting ourselves on fire.
PS: pretty soon, I promise, I'm going to write another one of these about how terrific G+ actually was, because it was, even though some of you who weren’t there having a good time with us enjoyed acting smugly like it was a random episode of Shields and Yarnell for you to make ignorant fun of, because: see everything I just wrote.