Another Week Ends

1. A rather frightening article on Slate about Mark Zuckerberg’s proposed “frictionless sharing” entitled, “Not […]

David Zahl / 9.23.11

1. A rather frightening article on Slate about Mark Zuckerberg’s proposed “frictionless sharing” entitled, “Not Sharing Is Caring.” As per usual, the vehicle in the world with the most potential for transparency continues to foster its exact opposite. Facebook is just the vehicle, of course, not the cause, but still… to mention escalating narcissism at this point seems almost silly, ht JS:

Sharing, in Zuckerberg’s view, has morphed from an affirmative act—that video was hilarious, I think I’ll Like it!—to something more like an unconscious state of being. I watched that video, and therefore it will be shared. If Facebook’s CEO has his way, everything you do online will be shared by default. You read, you watch, you listen, you buy—and everyone you know will hear all about it on Facebook.

Zuckerberg calls this “frictionless” sharing. What he means is that I don’t have to bother with the “friction” of choosing to tell you that I like something. On Facebook, now, merely experiencing something is enough to trigger sharing.

My problem with “frictionless sharing” is much more basic: Facebook is killing taste.

Three years ago, Zuckerberg noted an astonishing statistic about the Internet—every year, people share twice as much online than they did the year before…For as much as he’s invested in sharing, though, Zuckerberg seems clueless about the motivation behind the act. Why do you share a story, video, or photo? Because you want your friends to see it. And why do you want your friends to see it? Because you think they’ll get a kick out of it. [ed. note: I might add – you want their approval. Or at least their affirmation of your constructed identity.]

2. Regardless of where you stand on the front-and-center issue of capital punishment, I defy you not to be moved by “From Warren McClesky to Troy Davis, History Repeats,” a personal (and important) reflection by Mbird friend Michael Albanese on The Huffington Post. Be sure to read to the end.

3. On a much lighter note, the pop-culture machine shifted in full Fall gear this past week.. The TV season is off to a great start! And not just because Breaking Bad is finally, um, breaking good this season. While I found myself less interested in Modern Family last year as each successive aired, the premieres showed some real promise. In particular, the episode where Claire reveals and then is made to confront her need to be right was brilliant. Self-justification to the max – even cast as a disease… And last night’s premiere of The Office was one of the sharpest episodes they’ve made in years! James Spader’s Robert California is an inspired addition, but it was the subject matter that struck closest to home. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s essentially an episode-length illustration of Romans 7:9. Parks left a little to be desired (unlike Jerry, apparently), but I have no doubt it’ll come alive as Patricia Clarkson makes her presence known. Finally, Community started off as strong and zany as ever last night (“Cougarton Abbey”), and if you missed The AV Club’s interview with actress Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays Shirley, you missed some relevant reflections on the intersection/perception of Christianity and show business:

AVC: You’re a practicing Christian. And there are other Christians who would say that show business is not a place to express your beliefs or love for Christ. What would you say to them? Obviously, you disagree.

YNB: Yeah, because I feel like it’s a part of who I am. I’m not someone who believes I can make it by myself. So it would be kinda disingenuous to be like “Look at me! I’m so great!” and not go “Look who helped me! Or who made me!” you know? And also, I feel like what my faith has brought me, especially in this industry, is peace. And I feel like, who wouldn’t want to know about peace? And how can you have this great thing you know about and be stingy and not go… Not pushing it on ya, but just want you to know it’s available if you’d like to try it. That’s kinda the way I see it.

And the other thing is, I think Christians have gotten a bad name because of Christians. Like, I don’t blame other people for the rap that Christians have. A lot of Christians are just mental. A lot of Christians are more concerned with telling you where you’re gonna go when you die than what you can have while you’re here. For me, not to get preachy, but when they asked Christ, even, to boil down what it’s about, he said, “It’s about love. Love God, love yourself, and love each other.” He didn’t get deep into lists and “Do this and do that.”

4. The AV Club also published a terrific column this week by Alison Willmore, asking “Are Indie Films Unfair to Christianity?” Without the slightest whiff of culture-war defensiveness, Willmore basically comes to the conclusion that yes, they are. That the ‘born-again brute’ has become the new cliche indie villain, all fish in a barrel and booooooring, not to mention juvenile, ht NL.

If faith only shows up as a means of keeping people down or as a way for someone to hide an underlying cruel/greedy/lying/delusional nature, if the idea that a character can be sincere in his or her beliefs and get something from them is impossible, then indie film becomes the equivalent of the smug belligerent atheist kid on campus who’s always trying to organize debates about the existence of God with Christian groups, and who ends up coming across as just as annoying as any sanctimonious proselytizer.

Of course, the real “answer” when it comes to independent film is the same as with independent music: look to Belle and Sebastian (or Whit Stillman). And suffice it to say, if you keep working on your script, I’ll keep working on mine.

4. A wonderfully frank interview with Where the Wild Things Are author/illustrator Maurice Sendak over at The Atlantic:

That’s what kids do–they are immensely courageous. And they sacrifice a lot. And they try to play mute and dumb because–well, it’s kind of the expectation of their parents. That’s what all the fairy tales are all mostly about–about the vulnerability of children and how they figure out tricks and ways of living in the world and making up parents.

I’m 83, and I’d like to believe that I was civilized, but I’m not. Otherwise I couldn’t do the work that I do. I don’t know how to do a children’s book. I don’t even know what a children’s book is. I always know that my work is deemed suitable–more suitable–for children. I don’t believe that, but who cares?

5. A lengthy profile in the LA Times of indie rock heroes Wilco, who are releasing their new record, The Whole Love, this week. The paper claims that “never has the band sounded this consistently upbeat.” Of more interest to us might be the palpable sense of Law and expectation hanging over the record, both as it relates to the “dad rock” label (the putdown of the moment), as well as their illustrious past:

Being a dad twice over now, that phrase makes no sense,” [drummer Glen] Kotche said. “My life is so much more chaotic than it was beforehand. My life is chaos all the time. I understand the term means complacent, middle-aged and you have a house and a luxury car, but man, being a dad? I drink 10 times more than I did before.”

[Lead singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy says,] “I don’t think there’s much fun in trying to make a good Wilco record. I think it’s really fun to measure yourself against ridiculous heights of glory, with the firmly rooted reality that reaching that is impossible.”

Also on the music tip, the NPR interview with producer Butch Vig about the big 20-year re-release of Nirvana’s Nevermind contains more than a few tasty nuggets.

6. “Walker Percy, Bourbon, and the Holy Ghost” on First Things is an exploration of a few of Mockingbird’s favorite subjects, CG.

7. Finally, registration for the LIBERATE conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL, 2/23-25/2012 opens on Sunday! Yours truly is leading a breakout, and I’m truly flattered to be part of the line-up. Look for a full announcement next week. And our big Bham Conference next month is really starting to fill up, praise God. Register today.