Every now and then, I like to scroll through my Facebook feed to assess the mood of the people – the Zeitgeist, if you will, and I know you will.

It used to be that to grasp the throbbing pulse of a community you had to actually get out among the people and talk to them. Remember that? Didn’t that suck?

You had to say things like, “What’s on your mind, Enos,” or “Why so blue, Lou?” and then you had to stand there clutching your grocery bags and listening to these people go on and on about their lives. My dog has died. I fear that war is upon us. Sometimes I have murderous thoughts. Blah blah blah. By talking to your neighbors, you really got to know who they were and what they stood for. It was a terrible time.

Fortunately, through the magic of Facebook, it’s now possible to know not just your neighbors, but complete strangers from around the world in a matter of seconds. Who they are, what they stand for, blah blah blah. The hive mind is at your fingertips.

On Sunday, for example, a visitor from another dimension could have whooshed in through the portal at CERN and immediately grasped what the human population was up to.

Go Patriots!



And cats playing with Christmas decorations. And cats that appear to be playing piano. And a meme featuring Mr. Rogers, for some reason, and photos of what Joanne, over in Dover-Foxcroft, is having for dinner. Plus various photos of that creepy elf getting into mischief and a few more memes featuring cats, Biblical passages, Tom Brady, Dr. Ben Carson, Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and somebody else’s deep personal philosophies, typically written over an ocean backdrop. Not to mention the video titled: “OMG! Watch What Happens When this Leopard Tries to Eat a Zebra!”

The very first human utterance offered by that nine-eyed creature from another dimension would most surely be: “WTF?” And they really mean that. Facebook has really messed up their super-large brains.

Here’s a guy trying to sell you Ray-Ban sunglasses at super low prices and who will later come out to apologize. Sorry, everybody. I got spammed somehow.

Here are some more Black Friday vids compiled helpfully in long collections that feature various men and women beating each other for vegetable steamers. Throw in a meme featuring the Starbucks Christmas cup, a funny compilation of cats that appear to be terrified of cucumbers and a high-resolution photo of Gertrude’s perfectly prepared turkey hamburger tacos and there you have the Zeitgeist.

Only, it’s not always banality on Facebook. It’s MOSTLY banality and I think we’ve all come to grips with it. Lately, though, I have stumbled unwittingly across conversations of substance.

The people of Turkey blast a Russian jet out of the sky and seconds later, while the wreckage is still smoking, there is a Facebook post from a few observant souls to understand the broad implications of the move.

A madman runs amok at Planned Parenthood in Colorado and before the event has even been brought to a resolution, there they are: all the dusty old memes insisting that guns are the cause of all the world’s woes and, right behind those memes, a rapid-fire string of counter-arguments that tear the original arguments to shreds.

Just below the weird photo of a zebra defending itself against a leopard is a looooong thread in which dozens of people are debating the refugee issue. There is not one reference to Tom Brady’s overinflated balls and not a single image of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, there is just discussion.

Facebook, like the holiday season itself, first convinces you that there is no intelligent life left in this dimension and then offers glimmers of hope that there is. We still spend a troubling amount of time thinking about cats and cucumbers, but as long as we spare SOME time to wonder who is funding ISIS, or exactly what the TPP is all about, maybe we’ll be all right, and that bat-faced thing from CERN can go back to its dimension to report that the dumbing down of Earth is not yet complete.

Bet that weirdo will create a clever meme to better report his findings. I mean, OMG!

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.