It’s the wrong question, because people will say “I like Facebook!” But perhaps what many mean is they need Facebook, because it’s the means by which they communicate with an extended circle of people, and also permanently alienate friends from 17 years ago and a smattering of relatives who confine their tirades to niece’s birthday parties. They’re willing to put up with the stuff they don’t like, and they might not even be able to identify what it is they don’t like, except . . . well, it just feels like there’s this vast grinding machine under the page, churning away, watching, analyzing.
Because there is. Now, you could say “go to Twitter!” I would. You can communicate with people just as easily. But the people you need to communicate with on Facebook aren’t the people who regularly hit Twitter.
I rarely go to my Twitter page; I use other apps. When I went the other day to check something I discovered that the big boomerang-formica image on top is gone. It’s still there on MObile, as we say now I guess, but not in a browser. A trend, perhaps, of making things on desktop computers bland, severe, stripped-down, banal. The lurid, ornately ugly years of the original internet have given way to something whose chief virtue is cleanliness.
Visual cleanlinesss suggests moral cleanliness, which they are very much about. But not the type we associate with previous eras.
What we need is a return to old-fashioned bloggin’, by crackey! There are enough low-cost / no-cost hosts out there with templates aplenty, and people could easily customize a site to give it the personality FB lacks.
But - how will people find it? On FB, you just search, and there they are! Right. Google isn’t always helpful, either. How about if we made . . .
A Phone Book? Except for blogs. Anyone who wanted anyone to find them would submit their name, URL, and a few details to set them apart. The phone books of yore used to have lots of information people would never give away now - your age, your job, your address. We used to run people’s addresses in the newspaper all the time, as if that was necessary information.
Anyway. You want to see how so-and-so’s doing? Hit the Directory, find your friend, find the site. None of this Friending crap. None of this “like” drivel. No one gets to like anything. If you want to comment, you can comment. There’s no “sharing,” so the internet isn’t burdened by a billion unread links zipping from one address to the other. Oh: if you wish, posts aren’t dated, so if you don’t update all the time it doesn’t look as if your site’s abandoned.
I’ll grant you this: the ads may not be targeted with ingenious specificity. But will anyone miss ads that seem to have read your mind? Isn’t the entire idea behind serving up ads and videos and links based on the idea that we might like this seem like spoon-feeding us stuff we could find on our own if we wished?
Put it this way: wouldn’t it be nice to catch up with an old friend without an omniscient entity observing the event, and filing away your location and keywords for future use?
Put it another way: how did it come to pass that the erection of these manufactured “communities” was performed by individuals who seem to lack the most elemental human skills, and prefer to deal with others through the prism of technology?
Are we going to put up with this forever?
As mentioned - where, I don’t know, probably a 1 AM tweet - I’ve been watching some “What’s My Line” shows on Amazon. They plug right into the mood I’ve been in as I plough through this cache of 50s magazine ads, and they are so damned civilized it makes me weep.
There’s the host, John CHARLES Daly, who was a journalist and broadcaster, and remarkably articulate in a way it’s almost impossible to imagine today. There’s no pretentious to his erudition, and it’s constantly punctured by his laughter, and the way he lights up with delight. There’s Bennett Cerf with his twinkly mien - not as funny as his rep, if you ask me, but still the idea of a book publisher as a media celebrity is telling.
Dorothy Kilgallen, who had her own sad end, another writer who displayed a keen intellect; Arlene Francis, glamorous and merry, and Fred Allen, a homely bag of vinegar everyone loved because he’d been around since the 30s and was reliably unpredictable in ways the medium didn’t always encourage.
I always feel sorry for him, in a way. No movie career to speak of. If you look up the list of shows he had, there are many - because it kept getting dropped. But he kept coming back until radio was done with him, and then he hunched over the mike on panel shows until he was felled by a bad ticker.
He's always introduced as the author of an autobiography, "Treadmill to Oblivion."
The main sponsor in the series I’m watching was Stopette, a BO stancher.
Montenier also holds US Design Patent D168,109 for the ornamental design of his "Stopette" bottle, the shape of which was on the scorecards of What's My Line? when "Stopette" sponsored the show.
At its peak, What's My Line? was running in nearly every city across the country. Cerf said that the advertising costs became so enormous that Montenier was unable to sell enough Stopette to make up for it. Eventually, Dr. Montenier was forced to sell out, and this, according to Cerf, broke his heart. When he died, according to Cerf, cartoons appeared with the caption, "Poof! There goes Dr. Montenier!"
We've gotten a bit better in the graphics department, don't you think?
The other sponsor was Remington Rand, which always had a romantic technocratic appeal - they made machines that would put us into space some day! Calculating brains! The commercials show the earth from space, with rings like Saturn, and a comet blazes across the screen to reveal the company’s name.
I always think: who in the audience is in the market for a Univac? They made computers and guns and electric razors, which is pretty dad-gummed American.
If there’s one quintessential 50s character in there, it’s Robert Q. Lewis. Not because he was particularly good on the show; he was fine when he sat in for Fred Allen. But he seemed to sum up the slightly nervous glasses-wearing intellectual type.
There were a lot of nervous guys in the 50s. They may even have had neuroses. Hell, anyone who was interesting and artistic had neuroses, right? It was almost like today’s conspicuous display of identity victimhood, but less aggressive and narcissistic.
The number of people who played the celebrity mystery guest is quite remarkable.
(Bleat audience instinctively shifts in seat with mild discomfort)
While you can find a few seasons on Amazon Prime, YouTube abounds with clips of 50s game shows. You find details that give you pause.
I've Got a Secret, which was like What's My Line and To Tell the Truth. This fellow is old. The host, Bud Collyer, explains that the old fellow had fallen down the stairs at the hotel, and had a shiner.
Somehow I don't think this was a secret; I suspect he'd told a few people over the years.
But it's quite amazing. A young country, as they say.
Is this the only product we're about to see that’s still around?
I don’t mean “Instantaneous Chocolate,” and if it was indeed the greatest invention of the age, the steam engine must have worn a pout for a while. I mean Whitman’s chocolates. Stephen Witman opened his shop in 1842.
Whenever you see a strange name or word like “Notelrac,” you know it’s something spelled backwards.
The author was Fanny E. Carleton, and it seems they didn’t want anyone to know a woman wrote the book.
NO I DID NOT
We really do have a better variety of goods available for purchase these days. A fewer vermin-related fears.
Whiskey: a restorative for brain-workers. A cure for the nervous debility that occurs when you have not had any for at least four hours.
As far as I can tell, the brand was noted for one thing above all: Nudie ads.
These were marvelous devices, akin to your phone. Anyone could carry a camera with them to shoot a picture whenever they chose! An age of miracles. Not as good as instantaneous chocolate, though.
The number of camera companies in Rochester was remarkable. The Silicon Valley of its day.
“No cartoons to hide long-necked and paneled bottles."
Although famous for developing a vanilla extract, Joseph Burnett also had a role in the first publicly demonstrated use of ether to conduct a painless surgery. Dr. William Thomas Green Morton, a Boston dentist, was experimenting with the use of ether as an anesthetic at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He had poor results and realized the ether he was using was impure. Another doctor (Charles T. Jackson) told him to buy all of his drugs from Joseph Burnett to insure their purity. Dr. Morton bought his ether from Joseph Burnett and performed the first successful painless operation on October 16, 1846.
The whole bio’s worth reading.
The ol’ C. H. & D:
Thanks to Wikipedia, we’ve another piece of advertising art:
What miseries can follow, indeed:
INDISPUTABLY CORRECT SOUPS. It’s Armour, so back then you might find a thumb in the chowder.