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shameless pleading





November 2009 Issue

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi


Well, here we are, back at what we like to call the Holiday Schlepping Season, and we have a very special super-duper Gift Subscription deal that will solve all your problems.  For a limited time (until January 1st, 2010, which sounds like it’s really far away but is actually only mere days from now), one year subscriptions to The Word Detective by Email, normally $15, will be two for $20.  Yeah, that’s it.  Best I can do, I’m afraid.  But heck, in giving a gift subscription or two, you’re telling the recipient(s) that you think they’re sophisticated enough to enjoy a lively year-long expedition exploring the outer fringes of our mother tongue, interspersed, of course, with strange little stories and jokes about things that have absolutely nothing to do with the ostensible subject of the column.  You don’t see that every day, you know.  Most editors won’t allow it, probably because it’s like getting two columns for the price of one, or, in the case of this offer, four columns for the price of one and a half, or something.  Anyway, if you decide to spring for this FABULOUS DEAL, just click on the second PayPal link on the Subscription page, fill in $20, and then send me an email via the Question/Comment form letting me know the email addresses of the lucky people, and whether the subs should start immediately or after the holidays.

Onward.  I’ve been deluged lately (maybe that’s overstating it — it’s more of a drip, drip, drip) by emails from folks asking me why I’m not “on Facebook.”  Actually, they ask why right after they say You’re not on Facebook? the way I might say You’re not eating your garlic bread?, i.e., implying (a) that the person must be either ill or insane, but (b) that still doesn’t constitute an adequate excuse.

I feel the same way about pizza, by the way, and was once apprehended gnawing on cold pizza in a darkened conference room because I couldn’t bear to see it go to waste.

But no, I am not and will not for the foreseeable future be “on Facebook,” and, since you all asked, I very much enjoy not being “on Facebook.”  So you’ll all just have to soldier on without me, I’m afraid, but give my regards to the herd.  And about that “friending” thing, not to worry.  You’re all my friends, each and every one of you, and I love you all to bits.  Honest.

So, OK, since you asked, here’s why I don’t want to be “on Facebook”:

  1. It reminds me too much of AOL, and I think it’s bad for the internet and the people on it.  We don’t need any more walled gardens stifling serendipity.
  2. It’s ugly.  Seriously ugly.  I’ve seen defense contractors’ websites that were warmer and more welcoming.  The whole thing looks like one of those pre-fab corporate sites that script kiddies selling “computer security services” out of their mom’s basement use in an effort to look respectable.  I know we don’t want another GeoCities, but c’mon.
  3. The “friending” thing is creepy and reminds me of junior high school.  I do not need more things reminding me of junior high.
  4. I don’t have time, because I’m already trying to run six or seven web sites.
  5. Someday soon the world will decide that Facebook is and always has been unspeakably lame.  Extrapolating from my experience with such things, this is almost certain to happen within hours of my joining it.  People will desperately try to delete their accounts, friends will de-friend lifelong friends, and there will be weeping and wailing through the night.  None for me, thanks, and if you enjoy Facebook, you ought to be grateful to me for not joining.  OK?



A good idea.

Elsewhere in the news, I’m spending a lot of time sitting on the couch in my office because the ms has screwed up my legs so badly that they hurt like hell nearly all the time and have developed a nasty tendency to buckle without warning.  Most vexatious.  Anyway, it even hurts to sit in my desk chair.  So I have an ancient Dell Trinitron CRT monitor set up on the coffee table, but using a regular keyboard and mouse in this setup is a drag.  Fortunately, I found this on eBay and I’m thrilled.  It’s an IBM Ultranav travel keyboard, essentially the keyboard from an IBM Thinkpad notebook computer, sans computer but with a ten-foot cable.  This one’s pretty old (note the PS-2 connectors), but IBM (actually Lenovo) still makes a USB version.  This one has both a touchpad and the nifty Thinkpad pointing stick thingy, which I have always loved.  So now I can sit back with this on my lap and work.  This one was new-in-the-box for about $30.  I’ve always wanted a Thinkpad, but this is as close as I’m likely to get and it’s pretty cool.

And now, on with the show….

16 comments to November 2009 Issue

  • Fred

    Let’s see:
    1. You wish Facebook were dead.
    2. Your joining anything results in its death.
    3. …

    Isn’t the conclusion obvious? ;->

  • admin

    That would be cruel. How would Anderson Cooper know what his fans think?

    It’s spooky, I tell you. I can join a vigorous discussion in comments on someone’s blog or a news site, and the thread comes to a screeching halt, forever.

    Maybe I’m just really late to everything.

  • MaryLou

    I am not on facebook, and now that I read your reasons, I know why I chose not to be…

    Sorry to all whom think Facebook is a necessity… believe me, you’ll live just fine without it

  • Herb Reeves

    As a Facebook member, I agree with your reasons for abstaining. My reasons for joining, however, might strike you as equally valid. I recently posted the following, along with a link to your site:

    “My reason for being on Facebook is simple: To indulge my obnoxious urge to share photographs of my children and grandchildren, and to air whatever obsession I might find myself in the grip of at the moment. For this, I am owed an abundance of thanks from each of you, having spared you in person from the awkward obligation to pretend interest where none exists.

    “However, the reasons I entertained against joining are still valid, and are nowhere better expressed than in Evan Morris’ column for this month’s (November’s) ‘Word Detective.'”

  • Debra Beller

    Dude, you are already on Facebook. There is a Word Detective fan page. I just joined. Personally, I love Facebook and have a lot of fun with it.

  • I “joined” Facebook (and MySpace, and Twitter, etc.[I almost wrote “and etc.”, but realized just in time that that would be a redundant redundancy, like using my personal PIN number at an automatic ATM machine]). Anyway, my reason was just to ‘mark my territory’. I have just the basics on my profiles, limit friending or other contacts as much as possible, and just generally appear as a misanthropic curmudgeon. But there have been a couple occasions when information I wanted had been available there and nowheres else (rare, admittedly, but the times they are a-changin’). Being a member already sometimes lets me look at stuff I wouldn’t see if just browsing. I don’t use Facebook per se, but if situations change, I can jump in in a few years, claim status as an old timer, and use my own name without worrying that someone else has already claimed it.

  • Steve C

    I have been reading this newsletter [the “mooch” version] for awhile now and enjoy the humor therein. Sorry, Evan, that your health is not good and sometimes very bad.

    I am not a “fan” of facebook but I do have a page. I first joined while searching for a long lost daughter [long story–not here, sorry] and discovered that she had a page. I haven’t seen her in person since she was two years old and she just turned 28 in July.

    Anyway, for the longest time she was my only “friend”. I now have about two dozen, including two granddaughters. They, like Herb above, post pictures there instead of sending them to their doting grandparents half a continent away. We don’t even get e-mails or texts from them [and I know they text!]. So Grandma and I decided that the only way to find out what’s going on with them [sometimes it’s too much information] is to be “friends” with them.

    Having said all this, I also agree in principle with most of Evan’s feelings about the site. The thing is, I’m not hooked! I don’t play games or take polls or send virtual gifts or any of the other “fun stuff” that is fraught with cyber-danger. I am hooked on other sites in a sit-there-till-your-butt’s-sore way but facebook does not attract me like that. Perhaps “passive-agrinchive” would be an appropriate description of my “friend”-ship with facebook. Now about that “unofficial” Word-Detective page that Debra mentioned….


  • David

    facebook is better than this lame site plus you can meet new people

  • SK

    I have to say that the reasons you are not on Facebook are all valid, and I agree with them. I finally did get on MySpace a few years ago at the urging of my siblings. About the time I got used to it they all switched to FB. So I waited about a year and finally got on there just so I can “talk” to them once in a while. Sad. And it’s not nearly as nice as MySpace since you can’t personalize the backgrounds, etc. It’s just blah. And I don’t like to get on there very often because most of what they’re doing (mafia wars, farmville, etc) I could care less about. So, I am on there, but don’t particularly enjoy it. Oh well…

    One more note to “David” above – if this site is so lame, why are you even looking at it, much less posting anything. I love this site and was very glad to find it!

  • Chelle

    Have gone through a few phases with facebook.
    1. Reluctant
    2. Encouraged by the progress I made contacting distant relatives
    3. Rabid user
    4. QUIT cold turkey after a misunderstanding that can only take place in print as opposed to tone of voice
    5. Reluctantly rejoined but have not “friended” anyone I’m related to. I have minimal information available and mostly use it as a social networking presence for my struggling photography business

    And reluctant I shall stay. I don’t WANT to use it but understand it is the cost of doing business. Argh.

  • Jon

    I didn’t think I’d care much for Facebook, and in fact I didn’t even visit it for a few months after I initially joined. The thing is, though, that I eventually went back to figure it out and discovered that it’s far more enjoyable than I had anticipated. I have hooked up with some old school friends who now live far away (and a few still in town), and I like being able to see what’s going in their lives. There are scads of lousy games that people play, but it’s easy to disable those posts from coming up, so all I ever see is the stuff I’m interested in.

    As a lifelong introvert, it came as a bit of a surprise to me to find out that I like it.

  • Michael

    Irony: at the end of the article, there is an invitation to “Share…!” it using Facebook (among other things).

  • admin

    Yeah, that’s a WordPress plugin. It’s at the foot of every post, but to my knowledge no one’s ever used it.

  • WB

    First, I’d Like to thank you Mr.Admin! LOL =P( Sorry, I just had to). Only recently did I “hear” of your site “The Word Detective”, and have spent some time reading in here. I plan on becoming a “member” and contribute as soon as gainful employment can be found…Hopefully by then you’ll have paypal set up.

    As for the squabbling, er, I mean Debate,I believe it isn’t much different than any other form of expression or communication in life. As well, keep in mind the internet social community, is still in it’s early years. No one could reasonably argue that Social applications have a *LOT* of growing up to do.

    I use facebook to keep in touch with friends and family that are scattered around the world..or the next street over. I also play a game, It’s a lot of fun and a great stress reliever to have laughs with old friends, while doing the same thing. Similar to going to the “pool hall”, except this pool hall connects people from thousands of miles apart. I’ve learned a tremendous amount, about more things than I ever thought would be interesting….and some that aren’t.

    Thanks for tolerating my two cents plus tax…BTW..a “friend” passed your link to me…via FaceBook…

    May the Holidays treat you Well,


  • WB

    …side note- The part about paypal was a joke…hope you caught that. I imagine you did.

  • The first version of the FBook app was much better. When they relaunched it a few weeks ago?it has all sorts of problems. Doesn?t remember your login. Hangs up. Doesn?t let you scroll down more than about 8 status updates. I hate. I deleted it. Trouble is I can?t find any other app that did as good a job with uploading mobile photos. I may have to reinstall it just for that.

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