Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oh, For the Love of Fib!

  Mom had a special set of words. They were "dinosaur words". Some of them I still even now occasionally hear out of the mouths of older ladies. Mom was a teenager back in the mid 1930's, and the "lingo" she retained has (I think) more or less passed out of usage. She used to say things like; "Oh, for the love of Pete!". She sang a little tune concerning "maresy-doats and dozy doats", but the one word I especially recall her using, usually in the form of a question; was "fib". Howcome nobody uses that word any longer?
  Actually, the gerund "fibbing" was a good deal more common, as in; "You boys aren't fibbing to me now; are you?". She was expecting the truth out of us, or so we were to infer? She used to say plenty of things which left me guessing at her intention. But in her usage of fib, it always seemed odd to me that she (apparently?) couldn't read the "tells" of boy sized lies.
  I don't know all of the signs of a lie being told, but many (and perhaps most); people are pretty darned bad at lying. The itchy back suddenly present, that sudden inability to look eye to eye, the nervous tug at the earlobe; most folks are broadcasting with their body as tells when deceiving with their mouths. Why she had to ask whether we were fibbing, rather than simply observing our behavior as we spoke, so to determine the matter for herself; never made much sense to my boy-brain.
  A fib, and a white lie by Mom's standard were (I think) roughly equivalent, by them not much damage done. So then, there was an hierarchical premise to her view, such that some untruth was "allowable" and some wasn't. The surprising aspect of this was when she would flare up, clearly angry at what I (personally) considered a small-potato untruth. In her book, it was an outrageous breach. So, while we acknowledge the presence of a standard, we may only guess at the specifics thereof? And all this is humanly speaking, normal enough; don't you agree?
  We as human kind are constantly renegotiating the standard of truth required-in, or reliability expected-of others. We deploy our truth filters and observation skills in order to "guess-timate" how much of what we are hearing is real. So, Mom's word, "fib" is actually pretty handy, as a kind of whiff test. Is what I am at present hearing a "small" lie, or an outright whopper; or (odder yet!) true? Observe the tone, whiff the aroma, as the tale is told. Fibs are not really all that difficult to detect.
  Now the reason behind this discussion (and the title of this C.P.E.), is that I have a niece. She is a wonderful enough person (in her own way), it is just that two generations removed from 1936, the word "fib" has been unconsciously re-invented by her generation.
  This whole cyber digital jazz, who can keep up? Maybe a year ago or so, I began "blogging". That, and occasionally looking at bizarre You Tube videos, sums up my grasp of computing. Okay plus trying to figure out e-mail is more than enough computer guck for my tastes. Perhaps last summer (was it?) I was fiddling around attempting to fill out some dumb survey on the inter-web. The trailer included something about "must be on Facebook, to enter your response, would you like to join?". I pushed a few more buttons willy-nilly until it seemed I was done with the survey, and so "got on" Facebook.
  Next thing I know, there is this weird junk appearing on g-mail. Under "social", something about "notifications"? So, push that button, and you see this series of strangers? Do you know Bill Jackson? How about Sally Gomez? Do you recall meeting Bob, Tom, or George? No, no, and no; why are we doing this anyhow? I had heard some folks spend hours (?) a day on social networking? Really? Looking at strangers, being repeatedly asked; "do you know?". And I thought, "Just how bored are these people?". I was entirely put off with the idea, and just basically ignored the site for months.
  About eight or ten weeks ago, on "notifications" I saw something weird. It was some sort of notice maybe? I just happen to know my sister-in-law's name, and that moniker appeared with a "would like to friend-you". Huh? So, I mashed some button or another, and within a few days, my niece shot some sort of notice "great to see you on fb". Then, a big ol' slug of faces that I do recognize, began appearing! Who knew? So, I sent a bunch of "friend requests" myself. Many were returned with a "yes", and the entire landscape of the site has become a bit clearer to this plumber.
  I began noticing some sort of scrolling feature, what is that? A series of quips, quotes, photos and videos by "friends", and friends of their friends?  I hadn't noticed that before! This is way more interesting than attempting to identify serial strangers. And I was satisfied just looking at this guck for awhile, until I noted the "comment" button thing at the bottom. "How long has that rascal been hanging around?", and so now I know it all!
  Several hundred megabytes later, I awoke one morning, for the first time "getting" the premise, that if one mashes the "share" thing, somehow or another the "friends" will see in their scrolling thing what I am just now seeing? Now, for certain, I know this thing? That was true enough, until my friend asked about "my page".
  My what? I don't have one, or at least if I do, it has not come to my attention. . . She gently informed me, that: "If you are 'on' Facebook, you do have a page". Really? What is on it? She said "Well, what did you put on it?". Oh, was I supposed to do something there too? Boy, this thing is just one big bag of surprises ain't it? So, beside the 21st cen. bloggery, I too am fb-ing?. . and I love it? Where will it all end. . ."Plumber corrupted by computing, details at eleven"?
  Semi-astutely, I have come to a preliminary set of conclusions about fb-ing, or as Mom would have correctly tagged it, fibbing. We live in an environment of advertising, and it is so overpoweringly present, that we often do not notice it. . .much. As a plumber type, some folks ask things like; "What sort of water treatment do you recommend?". My answer is usually; "Well, they are all 'the best', and if you don't believe me, just ask them!". That is my way of discounting the mild, low level lies we expect of advertising.
  I mean, which company would push their product with; "Well actually, our junk is kinda third rate if you'd like to know (besides being over-priced), but we do have bills due, and could really use the money, so please buy some!". Heck, all products and services are "new, improved, the absolute best". Everything, it turns out; is better, brighter, faster and costs less. We are not supposed to notice that millions of dollars have been spent to cover the tells!
  A "slick" presentation, in a "professional" voice is to cover up the fact that very likely (in reality) some other product than the one being advertised is actually "best". Advertising is fibbing on a grand scale. And I think it is not really much harm done to the universe for us to think that "Clorox" is fundamentally superior (in some way) than "mere bleach". Even we know it isn't really true. But the tells involved, that foot scraping, those dodgy eyes, plus the jittery stammer have been slicked over and glossed out by "the pros".
  See, in the cyber-swamp of internet-ery, we have absolutely opposing claims . . . on . . . just about everything! Just google anything at all. "Do carrots belong in carrot-cake?" for instance, yields site A. The authority present will clearly propound that they are "a must!". Across the cyber street, site B declares authoritatively flatly to the contrary, that to add them will cause your head to explode. So, either one or both sites are wrong, but clearly both cannot be right! So, the digital morass is teaching us to read the tells of the cyber-fib. The tone, the tenor, the itchy-ness present; hear that whining edge to the voice? The tells present are signs pointing at the fib aroma. The sites pro and con are being run by amateur fibbers, and unlike professional fibbers doing ads, they still display boy-type tells.
  So now, I think I really really begin to "get" fb. Think of you running your own "ad-campaign". If "mike" is the product or service proposed as "best" what precisely am I pushing? "I had eggs for breakfast?, Here's my noodle recipe?, This video is funny?". Here we see a "potentially positive portrayal", in which you (the customer) are to gather that I am not the screaming madman you seem to recall. Fb lends the image that I am a reflective, kind and humorous chap, and this is what the ad campaign releases. Isn't fb fundamentally a fib?
  Well, why wouldn't it be? The tell is yet present, and even Mom would have noted it, had she lived long enough to hear the phenomenon. That discomfort of exposure, it keeps generating a tone of "extreme" voice. A certain desperation smell that you-too ought best be "caught up, on my life" ? Every word is shouted, every road trip is "THE GREATEST!!!", all tacos eaten Tuesday are "absolutely awesome". The fib of advertisement is become on Fb; a personally operated self-publishing enterprise, meant to imply at minimum something "positive" about the "product" (me).
  Obviously, months ago; I was way off base. This is very, very different than an old guy getting grumpy over being repeatedly quizzed concerning the identity of a gang of strangers. We wish to "shine", and Fb creates a playspace for that to happen. Okay, so fibs are involved, and the piece of cherry pie you had for dessert was not (in fact) "fantastic!". . . it was pie.
  The thing I think is this, we want to be part of something larger than ourselves. We want our story to help, to inspire, or at least not crush our fellows. To shine, is a function of light, and light is the twin of life. And so it is natural enough to share lives, so to brighten. A kind of friendly partnership, a reach-out feature in us, is present and it is at least part of what we see operating in this C.P.E. as we overlook the fibs of Fb. We value the person above the reputation. This is all normal enough, isn't it?
  Apparently then, my brainwave for the day, is along these lines here somewhere. Fb is a "social gathering" from across the world. Light and glory, life and growth are then the framework. But, in order to "make it go" we allow for the Fb fib. This points "outside itself".
  The set of all real numbers points "outward" to things (real things) counted. We value math, by using it outside of math; we celebrate counting, because it reveals "glory". Count the stars, and be astounded, number the snowflakes and stand amazed. Systems reveal, but cannot themselves bear "the weight of glory". They point outside themselves. They must, and so too we must.
  Likewise then, the glory of a grand banquet, clear glasses of good white bubbly wine raised in toasts, the glitter, the movement of "the gathering" points outside itself, to the Banquet Host, the Life Giver, He Who Is Light.
  The tell involved is fibbing! If the thing of itself could bear the weight of glory, no lie however small could intrude, nor would it need to. The very fact that we must "fudge facts" in order to shine, points away from us, to the One of whom we "kinda remember" as "Mr. Shine". The discomfort within us of communicating even small untruths is an inner tell. How could ever we feel uncomfort, if what we do is entirely proper? To know one thing is to know at least a bit of something else.
  Lewis said something like; "Fish do not feel wet". You must have a known, or a partly known "dry" to contrast things with; so to feel wet. Fish know but one world.
  Yet we stand at the frontier of two worlds. We look for a doorway home, like Dorothy in Oz, and tend to forget that the light above, shines through us into a dark and sad world. Doors go two ways and we shudder and shrink at becoming that door which presents the grief of the world upwards for healing. It is too heavy!
  He says; "Lookee here, I the True Door make all things new!". Part of what is renewed, is our understanding of things, and part is a forgetfulness of old things. In that marvelous banquet to come, no fibs at all are present, for the Host of the dinner, the Shining One is Truth Himself! All deception in His path melts and flows harmlessly away.
  That's what I learned on Facebook?
  Nah, it was another book, it's over in the "non-fiction" section.

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