Facebook has ruined writing. You can write all you want on Facebook and there’s no need whatsoever to do so with any grace or talent or even basic writing chops. You’re not supposed to show any chops, actually. It was designed as a purely egalitarian medium. Nothing pretty. Very little even signficant. I know a lot of fine writers and their Facebook posts are just as dull and artless as any twelve year old’s. It is wholly functional. Two dimensional. If people talked as dull as they post you would find them so annoying you’d duck out of the way when you saw them coming. Facebook reduces everyone to the dullest person you know. It is artless, faceless, characterless and not very funny. Emotions are worn on sleeves. Facebook is like instant messaging that everyone at work can read. Safe, dull, and designed not to hurt anyone’s feelings. No juicy gossip, no hidden secrets, no sex.
Imagine a party where everyone talked like they write on Facebook.
But if it has ruined writing, Facebook has utterly destroyed photography. 99% of the photos you see on Facebook were taken with a cellphone, and cell phones have done for the art of photography what transistor radios must have done for classical music. Reduced it to the bare minimum. There is no limit to how shitty a photo can be on Facebook. A century and a half of photographic progress was tossed out the window by people who think anything they snap on a cell phone camera is worth showing to the world. These shots are beneath art. They are garbage, Crap. You’d think we’d be embarrassed at just how piss poor almost all our photos are, but we aren’t. If a photo exists it is automatically worthy of being shown to the world. Not only shown, but shoved in our faces. You open up your Facebook page and your sensibilities are assaulted by one shitty, meaningless and completely artless photo after another. The concept of photography is so bad that people who once sneered at those paintings of dogs playing poker now put up one cute kitty picture after another. They can’t seem to help it. They order a burrito, take it’s picture, and make you look at a picture of a burrito. They show us photos of themselves having the worst hair days of their lives. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous you are, a cell phone will make you fat, flat, pale, bald. And drunk. Stone sober, you’ll look drunk. Cell phones are miniature funhouse mirrors. Like that climactic scene in Lady From Shanghai, but no one is shooting, and Rita Hayworth looks fat and flat and pale. But no one cares. You go on vacation, see the most beautiful landscape you’ve ever seen in your life,. snap a zillion photos, and all we can see is dirt, some hills, and a lot of blurs. There’s bear in there somewhere. No, that’s a waterfall. That’s us down there, those dots, we’re waving. LOL. And we once thought Polaroids were bad.
So when I see an absolutely gorgeous photo on Facebook I am almost ecstatic. Got one today. My buddy Pat Hoed as one of the Sanhedrin in the off-off-off-off-off Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Just look at how perfect this is:
The lighting, his expression, his eyes, the vivid blue. The vertical composition, with Pat filling the left half of the photo in blue from top to bottom, and the mic stand, his arm, the microphone chord (blue in the light) and the blue lit fold in the curtain behind them. All that blue, streaked with black. The faces down there (hello, Bob Lee) in that slightly out of focus corner. This is a perfect photo. One of those once in a life time shots. Pat should have this on his wall, framed. It’s that good. It begs to be an 8×10 glossy hung up in his favorite bar. He could autograph the damn things. And while I have no idea who took the photo, I assume it was a professional, using a real camera. I doubt it was just random luck. I just want to thank them.
So there is art on Facebook. Not much. Barely a spark. It passes by in a blur, a flicker, buried in the endless rush of shitty photos, cat pictures, inane comments and all those likes. Thumbs up. Easier than saying something.
But I love this picture. Here come da judge.