The Facebook 12-step plan 

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Not surprisingly, there was both joy and sorrow in our recent municipal election. Pain and pleasure were to be found aplenty no matter who you supported. There was the pleasure of seeing a spirited, engaged public that overflowed the woefully undersized MY Place for the all candidates' debate, offset, perhaps, by the painfully unprepared 90 seconds in the spotlight of a number of the hopefuls.

That infectious joy climaxed with a solid voter turnout. Nearly 55 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in last month's election. In a province where the average runs around 30 per cent, this says Whistleratics were engaged... or was that enraged. Whatever.

Of course, that massive display of democratic will led, in turn, to the sorrowful rout of every single incumbent, save one lone school trustee. There were some who probably didn't deserve their fate but as William Burroughs said, "There are no innocent bystanders...what were they doing there in the first place?" I'm not sure exactly what that has to do with the outcome but I've always been fond of it and this is likely as close as I'm going to come to finding an appropriate context for using it.

But the single most painful election experience for me was my plunge into the addictive, soul-sucking cesspool of Facebook. I've been on the periphery of FB — which is to say it's been bookmarked on my computer — for a couple of years now, every since the people I work for at the MotherCorp suggested they might use it to communicate with me and the rest of the workerbees. I don't know if they ever did because other than signing up for it, I never figured out how to use it.

Still, like the spread of athlete's foot, it spread its way into my life. A trickle of people would send a request to "Friend" me. I'm not particularly comfortable verbing nouns and for quite a long time I resisted. It wasn't that hard because I wasn't really sure I knew many of the people wanting to be Friends. But someone pointed out ignoring a Friend request was, well, unfriendly and despite the fact I didn't give a rat's ass about insulting someone I didn't know, I started Friending anyone who asked, as long as they were a person and not a business. I'm uncomfortable being Friends with something that only wants to have a monetary friendship with me.

But my Friends began to insist I "Like" some things. Some of them I actually liked so that was okay. Some of them I didn't really like and a lot of them I didn't even understand so how could I know if I liked them enough to Like them. And then, some of them began to get obsessive about being Liked, as though they'd just moved into the neighbourhood and showed up at school wearing traditional Lapland clothing and toting reindeer sandwiches in their lunchboxes and wanted all their Friends to Like them.

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