Puck an A, eh?

That first slap of cold air across my face in late September stirs me up like you wouldn’t believe. Or maybe, if you’re a puck-nut like me, you get it. It’s sharp and sudden, especially after ten weeks of heat and humidity. There’s suddenly wind – not a breeze but real gusting wind. The first squadrons of leaves skitter over pavement; if the vectors are right the rural reek of pigs invades my mostrils as I walk through my edge-o’-the-burbs neighborhood wearing jeans and long sleeves for the first time in months.

When all this bombsrds over me, I grin like a preschooler delighted with his Duplo architecture – a big goofy smile full of teeth and strain from the sheer joy of  basking in the advent of hockey season. That’s right, hockey! Say it like that, like you love it! I know I do. The slap of a shot! The flat crack of a tape-to-tape pass! The grunts, the cheers, the yells from a ref booming out over the rasp and schick of metal blades gliding over perfect ice. It’s magnificent, and it’s just the beginning.

For the next nine months, I get to mispronounce the word, “offence” and wind up all my questions with a surperbly Canadic, “eh?” I’ll talk smack about Detroit, St. Lou, Dallas and a bunch of other ratshit cities, quote stats, rave about Wayne Gretzky, and ride the season rollercoaster of my beloved Blackhawks. I’ll cheer streaks, swear about bad calls, wear my white sweater for home games because I’m old-school, worry about role players and young guns working hard enough, boo Gary Bettman (even if he’s been damn good for the game), drool over outdoor games, and then…then! After all that, half the league goes home and the playoffs give me the sports equivalent to a two-month-long orgasm. As many as three games play on separate screens all around me – on my phone, my tablet, and my TV, every night for almost sixty days. It’s a glut, after a marathon, and it all comes after that first gust, that first cool caress that predicts this very evening, at 6pm, when the whistle blows and the puck drops for the first time up in Ottawa.

I know where I’ll be. How about you?

Concerning Digital Narcissism

Games“Games” like this get on my nerves.  They’re one of the most self-serving aspects of the Facebook universe, and furthermore, they take up space in a timeline that’s already cluttered with ads, suggestions, and extensions.  The social aspect of the network, in other words, gets clogged up behind a hairball of inconsequentiality.

Allow me to explain: you post a “game” like the one in the picture one day.  Okay, now it appears somewhere in my news feed, this bigass graphic and/or explanation (and if I’m very unlucky, a mile-long list of one-word responses that make no sense to anybody but you).  You ask me for information we both already know, in a format that’s not conducive to any sort of social experience since the one-word deal makes it the equivalent of an inside joke.  You then ask me to repost and start the whole cycle over, and for what?  The game says it’s to see who reads and who scrolls, but to me, it begs a question.

Who cares?

Here’s a truth about me.  I scroll, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’ve got 200-odd people in my lists, some of whom I know professionally, some of whom are my friends or family, and then there’s the vast majority of distant relations, old high school acquaintances, people I met once at a writing event or a party or really anywhere.  For the vast majority of these people, the minutia of their online existence – the “Spent the afternoon baking bread,” or “Traffic sux in the snow!” updates – don’t merit commentary.  I don’t see the point.

Furthermore, I “scroll” the same way one would read a newspaper or hunt for interesting stories on a news site.  CNN junkies aside, most people don’t read a site/paper word-by-word, end-to-end, without skipping past the stories that aren’t interesting.  That’s been the way since news was printed; unless it’s a hobby, it’s a skim-for-interest affair.

And then these “games” pop up.  They remind me of e-mail games from a decade back, the pseudo-spam everybody sent around entitled “20 Questions” or “Get To Know Your Friends.”  They were full of inane time-wasting queries like, “Do you eat chicken fingers with a fork?”  Honestly, who cares?  I’d rather make my interactions about quality, not quantity.

All of which brings me to the point: these games are nothing more than digital narcissism.  They serve no purpose to the greater social spirit or community, they don’t further anybody’s understanding of themselves, their friends, or humanity.  These games are self-serving, and let’s face it, there are tools out there to find out who’s reading your wall, how long they spend on it, and so forth.  Get ’em.  Install ’em.  Use ’em.  It’s a way to make yourself happy rather than looking for a stroke-job, and if I scroll right past the game, please remember that I scroll past all sorts of posts because, simply, they don’t interest or engage me.

And remember: that’s not an insult.  Think of it as challenge.