I was recently interviewed by Tony Castleberry for TheManFAQ.com‘s Inside Jokes segment. You can read the whole interview here: http://www.themanfaq.com/inside-jokes-matt-davis-hecklers-and-soul-food/
For obvious length reasons, Tony had to break my lengthy, ranting answer to his first question down to bullet points, but he included it in its entirety on his Facebook page (post: https://www.facebook.com/tony.castleberry.3/posts/421446254581175).
I’m also including it here, for your eyes and brain.
TC: We became Facebook friends a few days ago. Is the Facebook happy birthday wish the most hollow, soulless, “I care only enough to send you a public email” message or should I focus my hate on something more important?
MD: The Facebucket happy birthday message is an integral part of the Me Monster psychology that drives much of “social media.” (And I use quotations around that phrase, because I wish to convey the air quotes and hackneyed British accent I used when saying it aloud as I typed). Its roots, and natural place in the order of things, can be traced back to the early days of discourse on the Internet; even before java applet loaded geo-cities sites crashed your browser, and email was so uncommon AOL felt the need to chirp out an announcement every time your Aunt Donna forwarded you a shitty, scanned Garfield calendar cartoon. From news boards, to message boards, to all the Alt dot groups, we arrived at genre specific forums hosted on top level domains. (And if you edit this to replace “genre specific” with “niche,” I will personally fill your intestines with live wasps). As forums progressed, with great benefit from open source platforms, the User Profile options increased. I mean sure, you were getting helpful information from Dave in Winnipeg on how to install the fuel filter on an 83 BMW, but you had no idea what his other interests were… “I wonder if Dave has a favorite quotation,” you would mutter. Luckily, all these problems were solved and we ended up with Friendster, and then Myspace. The latter essentially being the inversion of the web forum. User Profile in the forefront, and exchange of information buried within the actions and settings. Where myspace faltered, Facebook succeeded. Filtering down the information you see – even going as far to alter algorithms, based on your passed clicked content, to show you more of those type of posts and less posts from opposing views. If you click a lot of Fox News links, you’re missing some from Huffpost… and vice versa. It’s tailored – increasingly – more and more to you, for you, and about your interests; purging the unnecessary garbage that could be categorized as a new experience or opposing point of view. And if everything ends in the Me, than what greater thing to have all your Internet friends notified about than the most Me Monsterish driven day of the year? And keeping with the hollow, there are now apps that will auto-post for you; collecting your friends birthdays and posting some spam infected link to an e-card produced in a creativity vacuum. It’s been a quick two decade trip, but in the end I am confident we will bring the internet back down the same level of non-interaction we had before it existed.
Personally, most of the info on my Facebook profile is false for this reason. I willfully accept requests from strangers. The family listed on my profile (even though I don’t know how to see that anymore since the Timeline changes) is all horseshit. I told people to add me as their grandmother or son, and they did. I think I have two life partners right now, and I was someone’s unborn child. I never worked at the Embassy to the Holy See, and didn’t go to Brown. I routinely ask people to check me in/tag me where ever they are, and some do. It’s hilarious to me. I’m sitting in Atlanta, or Seattle, and my Facebook says I’m having lunch in Anchorage, or at a truck stop parking lot in Pennsylvania getting a blow job. I mean, why fucking not?
And yes, I send out birthday messages to people. When ever I think to look at it, I run right through the list, and usually without ever looking at the names. It’s always some variation of this: “yay internet happy good times birthday go you wow congratulations danger zone get some suck it go you you’re welcome.” If I’m feeling particularly caffeinated, I post this:
To answer your question directly: focus your hate where ever you’d like, but remember that one massive solar flare can wipe all this digital shit off the planet forever. And once it’s all gone, then where will you focus your hatred? Probably best to go ahead and find a real world thing to hate. I do my best to just enjoy how creepy it all is.