Tumbling into the Maw of the Great Internet Void

by | Dec 1, 2022 | 0 comments

I’ve been posting to this blog for a while now, not a long while but long enough I suppose. I have to wonder who is reading it. And the answer I came up with is probably: no one. This should loosen me up a bit, right? If no one is out there chewing on this stuff, I could say anything I want. Yes, but there is always the chance that someone, some rare bird is tuning in. I did send word to a few people and a few groups I belong to and the initial response was,”Yay for you!” from pretty much everyone, but I haven’t heard a word from anyone since. That alone doesn’t mean no one is reading it, but how many people could possibly know it’s out there. Do you? If I get no answer to that I can be fairly sure you didn’t read it, the results of this query being kind of like saying, “If you’re deaf, raise your hand.”  It’s not like anyone is going to make a special search on Google for “Tobie Helene Shapiro” without knowing who I am, so no one’s going to trip over it. Is there anyone out there making a concerted effort to locate a blog addressing their specific and odd predilection , namely, eccentric little old Jewish ladies who refuse to act the way people of her vintage are expected to act, to whit: bOring, rigid, idle, gossipy, clueless, forgetful, easily scandalized, puttering around, lacking interests, forcing pictures of her grandchildren on you, farting a lot, humorless, unenergetic, slow, taking classes in Japanese flower arranging, misses the good old days when Lawrence Welk presided over his champagne orchestra. I am not that and this may be the exact appeal to these strange slim-end-of-the-bell-curve nowhere-close-to-spilling-over-into-anyone-else’s-Venn-diagram readers who are one demographic most likely to laugh and cry at my blog posts.

But how would they find me, especially since they’re almost surely not actively hunting for reading matter that might be secreting itself somewhere under a glitch between two click bait thumbnail videos at the side of a Youtube presentation of rare historic footage of a friend of Mort Sahl’s caught in the Comedy Laugh-Off Competitions at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1966 doing a spectacularly funny satire on California’s Mystery Spot. That particular performance at the ‘ 66 Laugh-Offs incidentally was the cause of the Comedy Laugh-Off shut down that year, because someone lodged a complaint about the speaker’s lewdness, having worn a Santa Cruz Mystery Spot bumper sticker positioned so the big black spot on the sticker was right over her crotch. Had there been no complaint, the performance would have vanished from documented history. But as it was, the noise about the bumper sticker catapulted the UCSC 1966 Comedy Laugh-Offs to the hot topic in local news. First it was the UCSC Daily Californian, which was picked up by the local TV and radio stations which in turn got the attention of the three major networks who all gave the incident a segment on the nightly news. The Laugh-Off Competitions thereafter became a yearly SOLD OUT event. From then on there were always eager talent scouts in attendance. Our comedienne hero, friend of the comedy icon of satire, Mort Sahl, got the nickname “Spot” and was never able to shake it. She is still Spot to this day. But she will not be reading my blog—nor will anyone else unless they trip over me on their way elsewhere.

I’ve been urged to get on social media—the entire line-up of the usual suspects: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else is out there to suck up time and energy I don’t have, and don’t want to have if it means contributing to the whole anti-social media machine. I still haven’t (and won’t) forgive Mark Zuckerberg for helping get Trump elected. I did once, long ago, venture onto Facebook, but it was utilitarian. I was looking to contact a particular person who might be a good tutor in philosophy and logic for Meyshe and I was told the only way I could get hold of him was to bite Facebook’s bullet. So I did. Within minutes I received a hail of messages from people I hadn’t seen since high school, the very people I had made a concerted effort to forget. “Hi! Tobie! Remember me!? Weren’t those great times!” The great times referred to were the traumatic experiences I spent years on shrinks’ couches working through seeking what is known now as closure—–a vague concept that I think is more chimera than resolution. The “Wow! Let’s reconnect” messages were followed closely by scores of old photographs documenting humiliations I’d actually succeeded in forgetting. Thank you for returning me to the joys of teenage lost-hood (I had to put a dash in there or it would read “los thood” which means nothing). This happened to coincide with one of the first rounds of alarming privacy issues regarding Facebook. The timing was spectacular. Some of the stated issues were violating wiretap laws, distributing data on the behavior of users without their consent, having purchases by users published to a news feed and other celebrative frolicking. I got off of Facebook immediately, not an easy thing to manage. It’s like trying to get your account with PayPal cancelled. An equivalent struggle would be trying to get out of jail free without a Monopoly board or unsubscribing from spam email.

So I’m not on social media. I also do not as yet have a “smart” phone. In keeping with these personal policies I refuse to have electricity, a car, a telephone (I bowed out after Ma Bell got rid of the prefixes on phone numbers like, “THornwall”, “OLympic”, “LAndscape”, ” TEmplebar” and exchanged them for all numbers. Retiring the rotary dial in favor of punch buttons was the last straw don’t you think!). I also cook over a pit in the back yard–that’s where the outhouse is (not connected in any way with the cooking pit) and I am not now using a computer to post this to the blog that I do not have.



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