Losing Face

August 16th, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

I’ve never paid much attention to Facebook.

I have two pages, because Facebook imposed a second one on me, but mostly what I have is an “author” page. I use this, in an admittedly kind of half-assed way, as a promotional tool. I’m more serious about my web site, and my weekly update/blog, which I often re-post at Facebook.

I’m also part of my band Crusin’s Facebook page, where we announce upcoming gigs and such.

Last July 4, Crusin’ appeared outdoors at the Missipi Brewing Company in Muscatine, after which some nice pics and a few short videos from that gig wound up on Facebook, on the newsfeed or “home” or whatever it’s called. I went over to that area to see those pics and vids, and became exposed for the first time to all of the stuff posted there.

Now, because I am a professional writer, and want to sell books, my policy is to accept any friend request, whether it’s anybody I actually know or not. If it’s somebody who buys my books, as far as I’m concerned that somebody is automatically a friend! The result is that I have a wide range of people whose posts I see, from all walks of life and of various political persuasions.

I was appalled by much of the tone that I saw in the political posts. Mostly I was seeing cats and dogs and vacation pics and food and what-have-you, the stuff of daily life for just about all of us. But the political posts were alarming.

Not in every case – some folks on either side of the political spectrum presented their views clearly, and sometimes even backed up those opinions with facts. Of course, “facts” are relative, since both sides tend to use the sources they trust. Me, I wouldn’t trust Fox News to tell me what time it is. But lots of people get their news there. And anybody on the other side of the aisle who thinks Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O’Donnell is providing an unbiased read on the news is kidding themselves.

While I don’t love opinion-slanted news, I get it – some people like salt, some like pepper, and many of us turn for our current events to whichever 24-hour news channel and/or opinionated website best suits our palates. In a Presidential election year, however, things get very salty and way peppery.

From my slightly left of center perspective, the stuff from the far right is the most disturbing. But I see screwy stuff from the left, too, with lots of cheap shots everywhere – ugly photos of Hillary or Trump with some dumb biased joke or cheap-shot insult laid on top. I learned the hard way that these folks don’t want to engage in a debate – they want to preach to the choir and get a resounding “Hell, yeah!” and go on to the next falsehood or exaggeration about the hated other side.

I got caught up in this crap for a while – and it is crap, as well as a waste of time. In particular, when somebody on the right would post what I knew to be a hoax – like the stuff about the late hero Captain Khan being a jihadist (!) – I’d provide a link to a debunking of that hoax. It took me a while to realize that the people posting these things didn’t care if the stories were a hoax. In one case, when I pointed out that a list of democratic goals (supposedly written by a famous leftist) was a well-known fake, I was told by the poster that it didn’t matter. That Democrats believed all this stuff, anyway, so that justified posting it.

When you’re dealing with people whose beliefs are so ingrained that facts don’t matter, you should smile politely, nod your head, and make a hasty exit. I am doing that now. I have had acquaintances – not friends, but people I know at least in passing – who have asked me why I always support terrorists, accused me of being a socialist, and attacked me when I suggested that Democrats were Americans, too. I have had angry ALL CAPS rants leveled at me that make me wonder if I’ve been talking to a drunk or a madman or a disturbing combination of both.

The funny thing is I’ve restrained myself, unleashing my sarcasm only once or twice, and then in a watered-down fashion. I’ve learned that trying to talk reasonably to people who are nearly illiterate but passionate about expressing themselves (I’ve been called a “trader” when I rather think “traitor” was the intention) is a pointless and even dangerous exercise.

There are people out there who hate Hillary Clinton with a passion that is frightening. Anything negative about her and her husband is believed. That she and Bill are responsible for enough murders to make Jack the Ripper look like a piker. That the Clinton Foundation is a corrupt wholly self-interested moneymaking machine. That she purposely allowed four brave Americans to die in the Benghazi screw-up. That’s she’s a liar and a criminal and must be locked up. It’s not enough to disagree with her policies or to find her untrustworthy. She must be the devil (as Donald Trump has called her).

And Trump has been similarly demonized. It’s not enough that he’s shown ridiculously poor judgment by denigrating in this campaign women, Mexicans, the disabled, war heroes like John McCain, and the current President (the “founder” of Isis). The left still has to make a cartoon demon out of him, a mobbed-up insane pedophile racist with a yen for his own daughter.

The left and right have become bitter enemies, without an ounce of respect for each other, and it’s a national tragedy – the worst example of America’s team mentality, of its “us against them” tendencies. The only thing remaining of our British heritage is that we are a nation of football hooligans.

The bottom line about Facebook is that, unless you are interacting with an actual friend and not a Facebook “friend,” you are talking to who-knows-who. The person may be violently dangerous or an insane drunk or a sweet nun with a dark side. Who knows?

I don’t.

And I’m not playing that game anymore.

* * *

Crusin’ had a very nice gig at the Pearl City Plaza on Sunday afternoon/early evening. Nice crowd, very responsive, and we even had encores. After some time off due to my medical capers, we are coming back strong.

For those of you in the Eastern Iowa area, we will be at Ardon Creek Winery on August 26 from 6 pm to 9. Wine only improves the Crusin’ experience.

More info here.



15 Responses to “Losing Face”

  1. Joe Beckey says:

    Al, you are so right in your observations. I have stopped reacting to pretty much all political posts whether they be from the left or the right, Democrat or Republican. Folks probably know where I stand on a plethora of issues and it doesn’t do any good to rehash things. Again I thank you for your posting and your wisdom.
    God bless you and your family,

  2. Terry Beatty says:

    I’d also suggest rethinking the policy of friending anyone who asks. If the person asking is a lovely young woman from overseas with no friends in common with you, it’s more likely a ‘bot looking to do some “phishing.” Deny those requests.

  3. Max Allan Collins says:

    So cool to hear from fine musician and terrific human being, Joe Beckey.

    Terry, I am more selective about “friending” these days.

  4. Tom Zappe says:

    In a “hold your nose” election cycle it is good to remember the following formula:


    I think it helps to keep one from getting too disappointed with our surroundings, and to hold the other 10% all that much closer.

    And in reality , who could really have that many “friends”?

  5. Dyann Roby says:

    Facebook is wonderful for sharing pictures of my grand children and family. Or finding a recipe to remove blood from a shirt. In the ‘old days’ we dealt with mail fraud–today it is social media fraud.

  6. David Madara says:

    Good for you, I just try to ignore the bad stuff. I don’t need that much negativity in my life…

    You’re one of the authors I go to read, whenever I need to brighten my day… Nate Heller to the rescue!!

  7. Linda Donaldson Grim says:

    Al, I totally agree with you. I would prefer to unlike or unfollow some of my classmates that are so radical in their political beliefs but occasionally they post something I enjoy seeing. I have even wondered about going to our 50th Class Reunion next year because of some of the postings from people that I considered smart and even minded but have put some of the worst postings making me wonder if I even can have a “normal” conversation with them. I have never seen such disparity, foolishness, and stupidity since grade school. Guess I will continue passing by all political postings and hope these idiots will come to their senses before next reunion.

  8. Max Allan Collins says:

    Thanks, everybody!

    Linda, don’t pass up the reunion. But I did at the last committee meeting suggest we post a banner that says, POLITICS FREE ZONE!

  9. Brian Drake says:

    Couldn’t agree more re Facebook, and have blocked anybody who posts anything political from either side because everything is so out of bounds. I use FB mostly for writing and business contacts now (got a few assignments this way) so as much as I’d like to drop out totally, it has been useful.

  10. Brian Van Winkle says:

    I have been shocked to find out that a number of people I’ve known for a very long time are closet racists.

  11. Max Allan Collins says:

    Brian, I have found the same disturbing thing.

  12. Mike Doran says:

    So here I sit on Tuesday night, in the midst of a sinus meltdown: headachey, hacking cough, sneezing 20 times in a row –

    – but compared to the present Presidential Demolition Derby, all of the above is almost blessed relief.

    In a way, growing up in Chicago, where politics was always conducted like a spectator sport (up to the ’60s, anyway) was oddly beneficial to me; early on I learned to not take speeches and slogans at face value, no matter their point of origin.

    My brother was my main “teacher” in a way – he went from Conservative to Liberal in the four years he spent in high school (’62-’65), and I don’t think he ever really noticed the difference.

    Listening to him during this period gave me a thorough grounding in the cliches of all sides.

    One thing I do remember, though – Left and Right people weren’t anywhere nearly as adamant about their creeds as they are now.

    That went all the way to the top: in ’68 I remember Nixon saying about Humphrey ” … and he is a personal friend, despite our politics …”; that was the year that all the ill-will started ramping up.

    Even as recently as ’96, Bob Dole said of Bill Clinton, “… He’s my opponent, not my enemy …” – and caught hell from his party for saying that.

    In re Facebook (and its mutant sibling Twitter), I simply have nothing to do with antisocial media.
    Back when I did these on an office computer, Mr. Websense (remember ‘him’?) blocked these from my usage.
    The bad habit that’s easiest to deal with is the one you never take up to start with.
    ( I avoided alcohol,tobacco, and firearms this same way; I recommend this approach to one and all.)

    You know, I had a bunch of other stuff I was thinking of saying here, but I wasn’t kidding about the sinus meltdown.
    So I’ll spare you all the rest of my misery, and rest up for WizardWorld this weekend (where I can reinforce my DVD wall).

    “Until that time, Eustis … until that time …”
    (You think anybody who isn’t our age recognizes the source of that?)

  13. Ruth Nixon says:

    Loved the picture of the band. It’s good to see you looking so good.. Oh, great blog.

  14. Nath says:

    I love this picture and the content of the article. thanks for all

  15. Phil says:

    Hi. I wanted to comment on your Caleb York novels back on your entry page for them, but there’s no place to leave a reply, so I’ll do it here. Both of those Caleb York novels are excellent. I love the way you keep the reader compelled from start to finish. I felt like I was actually there watching it all go down…from a safe distance. Mickey Spillane would be proud of your talent and dedication. I hope there’s more Caleb York novels coming in the future because I’m hooked. Thank you Max!