Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shutting the door on it

I am fascinated by what people will and will not allow on their Facebook Timelines.

The much-ballyhooed "Timeline" is an online biography. It is therefore especially interesting to note what people allow there, and what they won't.

Today, on the radio, I fussed that our history is being forgotten, and ordered everybody to post their radical history online ... or (quite honestly) ANY history.

I have long been amazed that certain events have seemingly been completely forgotten, dropped down the proverbial memory hole, and cannot be found even after extensive online searching. They have evaporated into the ether, or they have been totally buried in dusty academic archives. My antidote was: tell your stories, share your histories. And then I decided I should probably practice what I preach.

I opened my long-forgotten cedar chest and created a photo album aptly named Daisy opens her magical cedar chest. I unearthed a bunch of old leaflets and posters of radical events, benefits, rock bands and even now-defunct businesses (such as the old Trotskyist-themed bookstore in the photo above, Red Rose Books), and hoped people would pass them on. And some of them did.

If you know how Facebook works, you know what it means when I say I "tagged" various people in photos or notified them if they were at various events. This means these events had to be vetted before they would be permitted to appear on these folks' Facebook feeds or timelines. And yes, I get that. I don't want Republicans posting political propaganda on my timeline (and I know plenty of em), so I am grateful for the feature. But that's what I mean when I say: I was fascinated by what was allowed to be shown and what was not.

Certainly, I understand when pro-marijuana activism is not posted on one's timeline, even if it WAS from 30 years ago and easily explained away as youthful indiscretion. If I used my legal name on Facebook, which I don't, I would be reticent about that, too.

But what about something you should be proud of, like helping to organize the American Rock Against Racism tour? I would be proud of that, even if I used my legal name. I have always been proud of my involvement in that cause.

Other people aren't.

I am wondering: Is anti-racism as a cause UNCOOL now? Is it possible that people are afraid anti-racism from white people is somehow too weird or too radical? Are they concerned it might get them fired? What would be some possible reasons for not wanting to own up to it?

If you have done an about-face in your political alliances, I can understand not wanting to own up to your past radicalism. But the few people I know who HAVE done such an about-face, do not seem to be the ones worried about that.

The worried people seem to be the ones who have moved up, who now have the good jobs.

Aha, thought Daisy, is THIS why the history is disappearing? Have people been just plain BOUGHT OFF?

The baby-boomers often like to brag about having done all kinds of great political stuff (I include myself), and yet, it seems plenty of these same baby-boomers are not proud of actually OWNING their political stuff and putting a name and date to it. Their one-time radicalism is a warm and fuzzy memory, but nothing they want to seriously contemplate now. Perhaps because (as one of my friends suggested) they are no longer doing anything political, and feel the reproach of their past-selves?

Whatever the reasons, it bothers me.

After all, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

And so, as I listen to a diehard Republican statistician on C-Span assure me that Mitt Romney WILL win the presidency (and gives us the electoral-vote numbers, backing up his assertion), I wonder if that will be what it takes? Or do the masses of baby-boomers now only worry about obtaining ample medicine and antidepressants? Have they (we) conceded the fight?

I have (wholly unwelcome) visions of turning into Mother Jones, an old lady rabble-rouser, leading a bunch of young kids (probably immigrants) into the fray, raising hell all the way up to the house of Mitt Romney (as Mother Jones once organized a children's march to the home of Teddy Roosevelt). I find this an unnerving vision, as I ask myself: Where were her contemporaries? Why was she the only one left? Why were there so few others?

I am starting to get it. I don't WANT to get it, but I am getting it nonetheless. I don't think I will be all alone out here, but I don't think there will be very many of us. And I once thought there would be droves. In fact, I worried I could not keep up.

One of the "promises" of Alcoholics Anonymous is: We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. Which of course, is a pretty tall order.

But you know, it was not an ORDER, it was a PROMISE. I was startled when I discovered that this promise has come true for me. And like so much else, I wish I could share this reality with other people, who did not have the benefit of needing recovery... and as a result, they have had to muddle through their lives without making friends of their pasts.

Thus, they never learned how.


JoJo said...

Wow Daisy you make so many great points. And I have been enjoying your treasure trove of old photos that you're posting on your timeline. I pretty politically active back in the early 90s but it never even occurred to me to post that on my timeline. If you look at mine, you'll just see the regular, homogeneous trips, jobs, and places I moved to.

That said, I could probably unearth stuff in my scrapbooks from those days and take pics and post them. I'm not at all ashamed of that time in my life, yet I also can't figure out why I'm reluctant to post them. I wrote letters on behalf of anything related to marine mammals and also Amnesty International. I did Pro Choice marches & spent my lunch hours sticking posters on poles in the financial district of SF. Volunteered for the Barry Melton for Judge campaign (his slogan: 1..2...3..who are we votin' for?), volunteering with the American Indian Movement, very active in anything having to do with Leonard Peltier - all of which caused my Berkeley, FSM attorney boss to quip with pride that he would love to get a look at my FBI Dossier. But I'm a little uncomfortable with people seeing my left wing past, because I have traditionally remained politically neutral on Facebook, for the most part - agreeing with my friends who post stuff I like and ignoring the posts I don't like from the conservatives.

bryce said...

gr8 post, d.

ppl r just *scared*

my $.02

DaisyDeadhead said...

Jojo, if someone else posted a photo of you doing one of those things, would you allow it on your timeline or keep it off?

That is more what I am talking about. If that is not your present-day self-image, I can dig that. But are you actually "censoring" parts of your past? That is what I am getting at, or trying to, anyway.

Thanks for helping to clarify my point more, too.

JoJo said...

OK I see where you are coming from now. Yes, I'd allow it if someone else posted it and tagged me. Definitely. I have nothing to hide and i'm not ashamed of it.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Yeah, I already figured. :)

Deadhead ain't skeered!! In fact, we talk TOO much. LOL

JoJo said...

LOL Yes, yes we do...

JoJo said...

you know come to think of it, I have a few friends that untagged themselves in my photos from college too - mostly the partying photos. They didn't want their work colleagues and/or parents of their students to see it.

DaisyDeadhead said...

I never took pics at shows, because people were **so paranoid** about the dope. They took it as a threatening act. At a Smoke In, though, you are there to be POLITICAL about the dope, and that IS different. (To me, the paranoia is the POINT; people SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE PARANOID about smoking a harmless weed, dammit!)

The smartest people would dress up in costumes for the Smoke-ins, anticipating the photography. But even so, I tagged one of those people with his real name, and he left it there. (Then again, he is a social worker in Seattle and it is likely nobody cares if he smoked weed 30 yrs ago.)

D. said...

I wasn't much of a radical back then, but I did occasionally participate in stuff, and there are people who, having attained the upper echelons of corporations or think tanks or whatnot, live in terror that I (or somebody) will remember their names and deeds and rat them out, deliberately or accidentally. (All right, that was a ridiculously long sentence.)

Really, folks, I've scrubbed most of your names and all of your faces, and none of you went into politics that I know of.

This makes me even happier that I don't have a Facebook account. Such panicking!

John Powers said...

First an off topic link to a Dave Zirin post. Australian Government Will Issue Overdue Apology to 1968 Olympic Hero Peter Norman

I think there is some fight left among Baby Boomers.And it's important for Boomers to find ways to celebrate diverse histories to challenge the structures that still oppress us.

But I think Facebook is complicated in ways having to do with identities. We are still young in online social networking and working out how it should operate. While Facebook requires "real names" our Facebook identities are constructed alter-egos.

Tagging someone at Facebook is not exactly like people coming here and posting your real name, but it's a little like it in the sense of screwing around with the composition of someone else's identity.

Making people own their shit without context and dialog on Facebook seems bad. That's why groups and personal walls are distinct.

High Arka said...

If we assume that Facebook and Total Information Awareness are in any way related, why should we be doing their logistical work for them? It's more fun to share photos in person.

DaisyDeadhead said...

D, oh yeah... thing is, it's a good place to share photos other people can easily copy for their own purposes. Other sites make that SO difficult. That is why I chose that particular venue.

High Arka, are you in contact with all the people you knew 30 years ago? If so, congratulations, but I don't know anyone else who can make that claim. More likely, you know a few, who know a few, who know a few... and that is what I wanted to happen: I wanted to reconnect with people who would be tagged in the pictures, and I did. :)

If you look at that album (and it is accessible to everyone, even if you are not on Facebook, another reason I did it), there were 140 separate photos... making copies of all of those and mailing them to 700 people would be very time-consuming and expensive. I could simply never do it, so I did it that way. If you have the time and money to do that, go for it... but it is not environmentally a good idea either. That's more paper than it is necessary to use.

I was hoping to connect with peeps like AJ Weberman and I did... it was so great to hear from those folks again. Don't you miss people you haven't seen in 30 years? Do you have the means to keep in touch with all of those people? After you live to be 54, the numbers multiply exponentially and you start to forget names. But maybe you don't? (this is my way of politely saying I find many of your comments ageist and unnecessarily judgmental... on your blog too)

John, actually, you do NOT have to use your legal name on Facebook, and I counsel people if they are nervous about politics, DON'T DO THAT... but their egos, wanting to be :known: is very important to people. I have found it easy to write a short note: you remember me as so-and-so and now I use the name Daisy. Nobody gets bent out of shape over that. Only a couple of people have objected, but not since I started the radio show... its like, oh, radio name, I get it. But it does help to be in media, people do not find it suspicious or peculiar, in that case, to change your name.

I do agree that these are "growing pains" of social networking... I am now being treated to the spectacle of someone I tagged, spamming my photos with Bible verses. Okay, I ASKED for it! :P