Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You Probably Think this Blog is About You

Every night without fail, Mitch and/or I surf our Facebook feed to see what our friends, family, and other associated people are up to.  (By “our Facebook feed” I do not mean that we share a Facebook account.  I have made a lot of really stupid decisions in my life and that is not one of them.  But it’s too early to be parenthesesing so I apologize.)  Mitch always points out some fool’s Facebook status that has a personal cell phone cam shot, most often taken in a bathroom,  and an even more ridiculous caption for it.  We let the first few go, but have recently noticed some horrible repeat offenders.  Mostly on Mitch’s Facebook; I have long deleted or “hid” these types of Facebook statuses.   Stati?  Which reminds me that there’s a few more I’ve seen popping up on my feed recently…

Sometimes these people are random acquaintances, old high school classmates, previous employees, etc.  But sometimes, embarrassingly, these people are close to us.  I would ask Mitch constantly “why do they do that?”  “Do they think it’s cool?  Do they think they look good?  Do they think I care?”  And then people would comment on the picture!  Mitch’s conclusion: it’s a very serious Facebook phenomena or culture going on.

Now as a certified Folklorist,* I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I hadn’t thought of it first.  But after watching certain people take these pictures over and over again, and then to watch the same other people continuously comment on these pictures with positive remarks, it was obvious that there was some sort of subculture going on in the Land ‘o Facebook that I was not a part of, did not want in any way shape or form to become a part of, but desperately wanted to know about!  I will, however, admit to you that my desire to study these creatures merely masks my true desire of publicly humiliating them.

When researching several subjects, I was able to document multiple similarities between them:

Have the subjects obtained a high school diploma or GED?
-          Yes

Have the subjects received any higher education?
-          No

Do the subjects have biological children?
Subject ages 19-29
-          Yes
Subject ages 30+
-          No
Subject ages 12-18
-          Maybe

Subject’s Facebook relationship status?
-          It’s complicated

Subject’s actual relationship status?
-          Divorced
-          Trying to be remarried Sunday through Thursday
-          Single Friday and Saturday

Subject’s Facebook “looking for” status?
-          Anyone

Subject’s actual “looking for” status?
-          Anything

Male subjects’ role models:
-          Quentin Jackson, Bret Michaels, Mel Gibson

Female subjects’ role models:
-          Angelina Jolie, Camille Grammer, Snookie

Besides my subjects’ questionnaire, I interviewed Erin, Michelle, and Nick.**  Actually, all of my subjects were willing/begging to interview but I clearly just don’t have the time to listen to all these idiots and chose three subjects at random for my case studies.  Here are relevant excerpts from these interviews:

Me:  How often do you post a photo that you’ve taken of yourself on Facebook?
Erin:  Well, I take a picture every time I get ready to go somewhere.  Like work, school, or when I go out.  And if I like it or think I look hot, then I post it.  I made my stepdad install dimmers throughout the house so I could get better lighting for my pictures.

Me:  When did you post your first self portrait on Facebook?
Michelle:  About two days after I joined Facebook.  I realized that these new friends didn’t know what I really look like, you know, like how I look like every day.  So I started posting pictures so they could see the real me, like they actually knew me.

Me:  Why do you post these types of pictures?
Nick:  So my boys can see what they up against, and so the chicks can see where I’m going tonight and what I look like.  And so my baby momma can see where I’m going tonight and what I look like.

Me:  Is there an “unwritten” rule that these photos must be taken in a bathroom and at a slightly downward angle?
Michelle:  Yes.
Nick:  True dat.
Erin:  Show’s the cleavage better.

Me:  Do you think that your Facebook “friends” care if you post a picture of yourself?
Nick:  The ladies do.
Me:  No they don’t.
Michelle:  My friends back at home do.
Me:  Not Really.
Erin:  I don’t care if my Facebook friends care.
Me:  Obviously.

After speaking with these three individuals, and receiving hundreds upon thousands of questionnaires, I began to piece together the answers behind this Facebook subculture.  At first I was looking at it all wrong; my obsession with my own self caused me to believe that these creatures were posting these pictures for me, when in all reality they weren’t for me at all!  I was coming down with a fever!  A fever that made me believe that my Facebook feed was reality, that I was actually conversing with these people on a daily basis, and that it was quite ordinary for me to know their innermost personal thoughts and daily step by step actions.  I only realized this fever after performing my own research on myself, and through rigorous and lengthy interviews (sometimes 24 hours at a time) I was able to learn that I had on more than one occasion reminisced a memory or piece of juicy gossip with a fellow Facebook friend that I wasn’t actually a part of or directly told.  “Remember the time we went to Costa Rica, and we met Julio who offered to drive us to a secret waterfall that only he knew about for our honeymoon and I took tons of pictures of you and your husband and it was so gorgeous?!”  “Did you hear that Allison and Kari are hanging out again?  They went shopping on Saturday and then went to sushi for lunch and are pretending that nothing ever happened and Kari actually asked Allison to be in her wedding?!”

During this time a scientist friend*** of mine offered to do some urine and blood samples and other tests for me on several of my [volunteer] subjects.  His findings were more than I could have ever deduced using my tried and true Folklore research principles.  This wasn’t just a Facebook phenomena, it was a genetic disorder!  All research subjects carried the same genetic disorder, and at least one of their parents did as well.  My scientist friend researched every book and article he could find on this disorder only to conclude that though it had previously been recorded, no further data was ever examined and it was ruled an “inconclusive, recessive” disorder with no “history of side effects or life-inhibiting traits.”  But I knew there was some connection!  I did not carry this disorder, the scientist did not carry this disorder, nor did Mitch, my mother, or my step-cousin in Santa Cruz (who I had anticipated might.)

The scientist explained to me that my subjects all had a similar occurrence to their white blood cells.   The body, which usually uses white blood cells to fight off infectious disease and foreign materials, was actually trashing its white blood cells.  Even though the subjects had an adequate number of white blood cells, at least 50% of them were trashed, making my subjects less protected against things like illness, disease, class, and better judgment.  It wasn’t their fault that they were falling victim to this Facebook portrait subculture; it was merely an exact match of new technology and an unidentified genetic disorder which made them succumb to the sickness without even knowing it.

Though we have not yet found a cure for White Trash, the scientist and I are currently submitting our most recent formula, a suppressant, to the FDA.  Its primary ingredients include college coursework, table manners, and self respect.

*Author is not actually “certified.”
**Names have been altered to protect identities.  These interviews never actually took place.
***Author is not acquainted with any scientists, nor knows what a scientist actually does.

A Very Civil War: U of O A Cappella Group Takes on OSU

It wasn’t a Civil War for the ages, but tell that to the crowd at the sold out McDonald Theatre on Saturday night.  Friends, family, and fans from all over the Willamette Valley gathered for the light hearted sing-off between the University of Oregon’s On the Rocks a cappella group and Oregon State University’s Outspoken.  The night was broken up into four sets, with On the Rocks starting and ending the show. 

Both groups started with a casually attired set and ended with a more formal one, each, of course, sporting their respective university colors and logos.  While a majority of those in attendance were most likely OTR fans (due to the show’s Eugene location) Outspoken received just as much applause after each song.  The crowd, who perhaps expected Outspoken to be blown out of the water by The Sing Off contestants, was pleasantly surprised.  Outspoken certainly brought their A-game.

The night for On the Rocks fluctuated dramatically, performing a shaky “Eye to Eye” from A Goofy Movie followed by an incredible “SeƱorita” by Justin Timberlake.  Their remix of “Demons” by Guster was less exhilarating than their usual cover that brings me tears every time I hear it.  But I guess that’s to be expected; On the Rocks has been singing that song for more than five years now.  OTR selections included “Bad Romance/Poker Face,”  “Lullabye,” and “Live Your Life.”  Against my expectations “Call Me a Duck,” their “All the Above” U of O remix, was not performed.  But original songs from their latest album, A Fifth, were.  It’s OTR’s fifth recorded album, produced by founding member Peter Hollens.  OTR sang a couple other songs that I wasn’t familiar with, which made me think that a cappella is more enjoyable when you hear covers of your favorite songs, and more impressive when the group writes their own. The guys were their usual quirky selves, each one 20% actor and 80% vocal artist.  They’ve really refined their onstage presence; their antics are never overwhelming but have the right amount of comedic timing.  They seemed more comfortable with the audience than Outspoken did, often times exchanging a couple one liners with louder audience members.

Outspoken’s shyer demeanor may have attributed to the show being located on OTR’s turf.  Many of their songs started quiet and timid, but the guys generally got into their groove somewhere around 30 seconds into each song and ended them on a strong note.  They performed some classics like “Change the World,” “Macho Man” which included a slight striptease, and “Go the Distance.”  “Ghostbusters” seemed a little generic until they appropriately remixed it with Michael Jackson’s “Bad” which was as seamless as their surprising mix of “Would You Go with Me” by Josh Turner and “Africa” by Toto.  “Zoot Suit Riot” was a mildly funny choice to me since the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies hail from Eugene, but at this point Outspoken had won the crowd over and no one seemed to care about the irony.  Not surprising since Outspoken placed third in this year’s International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.  “Hurt” – the Johnny Cash version, and *NSYNC’s “I Thought She Knew” were outstanding performances as well, and Outspoken livened their stage performance up with “Breakeven” by The Script.

Considering both groups’ recent successes it would be pretty tough to pick a winner, which wasn’t done at the Civil War show.  Unlike UO/OSU athletic rivalries, OTR and Outspoken were amicably promoting the talent of a cappella groups in both schools, rather than furthering the rift between them.  On a side note, if I had to pick a winner, I would say that Outspoken’s song choice was better than OTR’s, but OTR’s stage performance was stronger…which isn’t really choosing a winner, but they’re both winners in my ears.