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The 10 Facebook / Twitter / Blackberry Commandments

I remember a discussion from an English class in high school where we were discussing if Man invented God to fulfill a human need, or if God actually exists.  Now, most comedians I know range from ambivalent to hostile towards God and religion, which if you have seen and heard a lot of comedians seems to be pretty justified on their parts.   But if humans did invent the concept of God I think the most compelling evidence of this may be the Twitter and Facebook explosion on the Internet.  It is clear that humans, at least Americans, like the idea of some larger presence observing their actions and thoughts to give them relevance.  Now politically we cry out for privacy and independence, but Twitter and Facebook seem to reveal our true nature, at least the nature of the shallow and enlightened people we have become.  We still need relevance bigger than ourselves, so if God and religion cannot provide it, we will simply invent something to give us that sense of cosmic community.  Of course I think this is incredibly stupid and would prefer to believe in an invisible man or force than in the insecurities of people, sublimated into social networking and technology, but to each his own.

So with that in mind I propose a 10 Facebook/Twitter Commandments:

1) Thou shall not put RIP messages on social networking.  I remember George Carlin talking about how our culture is obsessed with death and he was probably right.  Funerals may be entirely useless, but at least they have more gravitas than a Tweet or a Facebook status.   When people write RIP messages on social networking sites I really believe what they are saying, perhaps subconsciously, “I’m a thoughtful and caring person and I need people to know this about me, even if it involves a modest exploitation of the loss of a loved one.”  Stop doing it, your deceased cannot read anymore, so your thoughts and/or prayers are sufficient.  And if you write messages on Facebook pages of deceased people (seen it a few times) the only dignified thing to do is have the page taken down – he/she cannot “like” you comments anymore.  And lastly, a website where I describe movies and masturbating probably isn’t a sanctified enough place to honor someone.

2) Thou shall stop telling people how the weather is. Pretty self explanatory, but next time you think of updating something mundane like that, stop, think and try to appreciate it and feel it without looking for validation or to feel like people out there now know how you feel so you have some increased validity.

3) Thou shall not make awful jokes.  There are some really awful jokes being shared on these websites.   Compounding the problem is that there seems to be no shortage of stupid people willing to “like” or comment with a “brilliant” on these jokes.  You probably don’t know who you are, but perhaps I will let you know in the future.  Here’s a hint – if your jokes read like a mediocre joke for Jay Leno, stop.

4) Thou shall not observe the sabbath.   “Follow Friday” is a huge circle jerk on Twitter.  It is where people tell other people to follow certain people that they are friends with or find funny.  It is the prosthelytizing of social networking. 

5) Thou shall not demean compliments.  I always enjoy when I see the news feed on Facebook and someone has wished 8 people in a row Happy Birthday.  It somehow manages to demean the insignificant wishing of a happy birthday on the Internet.  Another one, specific to comedians, is when someone who runs a show rattles off “great set” to every comic on the lineup.  Thanks for that – now I know that I am equally as great as everyone who did you show.  Greatness and quality are relative terms and although I have been part of some great shows, not every show taking place in every bar of NYC is “great.”

6) Thou shall step aside on the sidewalk when you are using your mobile device.  A year ago if someone walked into me while staring at their Blackberry they would apologize.  Today they look at me as if to say, “huh?”  In another year I assume they will say (imagine bitchy NYC 20-something, “What the fack?”  I will be in the wrong for not getting out of their way while they send LOLs.  Your tweets, bbms, etc. can wait.  You are not that important, at least not important enough to walk slowly through crowded streets slowing down pedestrian traffic and walking into people.

7) Thou shall treat photograph-taking with the same importance that you did when you needed ato actually get photos developed.  For selfish reasons I carve out a comedy exception to this (in Catholic terms think of it as a dispensation), but can people stop using every moment of the day as a moment worthy of preservation?  We have already managed to cheapen dead people and birthdays and compliments through social media, and now we have cheapened nostalgia.  “Grandma, do you have any photos of your friends when you were younger?” “Why yes in fact I have 4,566 photos – here are the 97 of us drinking Smirnoff Ice.” Awful.

8) Thou shall not say “hit me up on Facebook” – self explanatory. 

9)Thou shall not give more weight to texting donations, Twitter rumors and Facebook groups/Friends than is appropriate.  The real story about the millions of dollars that texting raised for Haiti after the Earthquake is whether or not young people would have been nearly as involved for a tragedy if t had not been so easy to donate.  Technology like that allows us to do some good, but more importantly it has removed the desire or need to be proactive and actually be involved or care.  I know dozens of people who texted donations, but it was a middle aged couple I met in Cleveland who were headed to Haiti to voulnteer.  And let’s not forget the most important thing Facebook has accomplished was to get a woman near death a chance to host a television show that died 7 years ago.

I should mention that I have almost 1600 Facebook friends, but a relatively small group of actual friends.  I have been tempted when my cell phone contract is up next year to get rid of my blackberry.  I now have a land line phone in my apartment because I don’t want brain cancer and I told a friend of mine – how many pithy conversations, flirtations and communications would there be if people had to call my home phone.  He responded, “then most people would not have contact with you.”  And he is right, the question is – have we already become a society that values quantity of contact and “friends” over actual quality of friendship.

10) Thou shall follow me on Twitter.  www.Twitter.com/JLCauvin  I am a comedian and not famous so I am forced to play the game.   But rest assured, 95% of the time I obey the Commandments.

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My Personal Episode of 24

Previously on J-L Cauvin’s 24:

  • I wrote a joke, archived on my blog on March 12, 2009, which I also posted to Twitter and Facebook several weeks before the March 12th blog.  The joke went: “I like Michelle Obama, but she’s pretty big.  I am not saying she’s too big, but Tyler Perry is rumored to be playing her in the biopic.”  Joke was received tepidly by liberal New york audiences, especially in the afterglow of President Obama’s inauguration.  Joke was praised with “LOL!!!!!!!” from a New Jersey based comic.
  • I got booked to emcee for two weeks at the Cleveland Improv.  In an effort to save money I booked my trip to Cleveland on Greyhound – a 12 hour bus trip departing at 5:00 am on January 28th.

The following took place between 9:00 pm January 27th and 9:00 pm January 28th (wooshy sound effects):

On my way home from a show on Wednesday I begin checking Facebook on my blackberry because I left a book at home and was bored on the M15 bus.  I read an update from one comedian, an in your face, Jim Norton-without-the-humor New Jersey comic, who made the above “LOL!!!” comment on my Michelle Obama joke almost a year ago.  His comment was roughly, “American Idol is over, now get ready for Obama and his wife Tyler Perry in ‘Madea Goes to the White House.'” 

I commented back, “I take comedic credit, but not political credit for this joke.”  He replied, “I did not know you used this.  I guess great minds think alike.” I then became very angry. I emailed a friend of mine who then told me that he has recently worked with this comedian and that he told this joke on stage and that it seemed above his paygrade (my words).  The reason I am choosing not to name this comedian is because there are three possibilities as to why he has been using the joke:

  1. He outright stole it the day he saw me post it.
  2. He actually thought of it on his own (unlikely because wouldn’t he have said that when he posted his “LOL!!!!”
  3. He forgot where he heard it and months later thought that he thought of it.  This has happened to many honest comedians and because of this, I believe, remote possibility I do not want to tarnish his reputation beyond this blog.  However, if I ever hear of this individual using someone else’s joke the I will name names.  I hate joke stealing and I look at joke thieves the way porn stars look at sonograms: “This thing has to die.” (he may steal this joke because it’s in his wheel house – this is practically entrapment, but for his propensity for it – see above paragraphs)

So I had trouble sleeping that night because I was so angry, but I was able to follow the Utah Jazz win against Portland on my blackberry.

J-L Cauvin will do whatever it takes to protect his jokes. No more tweeting his material!!

4:08

I wake up, drink a Muscle Milk (nutrients and meatheadedness), pack my third and final bag for Cleveland (I am not a prop comic, but I pack like I am) and head for Port Authority, which is the saddest place on Earth at 5 am.  Every sign in Port Authority indicating the Greyhound buses to Buffalo (where I would connect to the Cleveland bus) say “Gate 24.” So like any normal person I went to Gate 24 and waited. And waited. And waited.  I waited there with only one other person, which did not raise any red flags because IT’S 5 AM TO BUFFALO! Who else would be going besides a self-doubting comedian looking to save money and a chubby black man (the other guy). 

The evidence is damning against Greyhound. Motherfu-kers!

At 541 am we went upstairs to find the only Greyhound clerk working and were told (as i we were stupid), “No that bus leaves at Gate 61 – it is gone.” Of course it’s gone – I should have ignored all the signs and simply guessed Gate 61!  I asked, since it was only a few minutes since the bus left, if she could call it back (after all what’s 5 minutes lost on a 12 hour bus ride) and her response was, “SIR, that bus has left.” I then contemplated going Book of Eli on this woman, but opted instead to murder my blackberry.  I only cracked the face of it, but it still works and has told all the other blackberries that it fell down the stairs at home.

8:48 AM

I book a train to BWI and a Southwest flight from BWI to Cleveland.  It only cost me a shade over $300, so there went my savings and half of my paycheck.  However, I plan on dusting off my diploma from law school and crafting a letter to Greyhound that will demand AT LEAST $300 dollars, probably in Greyhound vouchers, which will ensure more Greyhound trips and battered blackberry syndrome. What’s the colloquial definition of insanity again.

8:35 pm

At the Cleveland Improv I am working on terrible sleep, but a calmer frame of mind as I bring up the headliner.  Unfortunately the Improv had given me a large amount of announcements and the headliner then gave me several more giveaway/contest announcements at the last minute.  And like Married With Children’s Kelly Bundy I apparently could only keep 10 facts in my head, so once a new one went it, one went out.  This time the fact that went out was not an insignificant one: the headliner’s name. 

I shamed dumb blondes with my intro Thursday night. Wait for it....

His name is Alex Reymundo, or Redddddddddddymundo if you roll the r’s.  After delivering the announcements pretty flawlessly I then paused with what Lee, the booker called, “the greatest deer-in- the-headlights-look I’ve ever seen,” and after about 2.5 seconds said “ANDY RONALDO!”  Lee has already instructed most of the staff at the Improv to refer to Alex and Andy Ronaldo for the rest of the week.  Alex was very gracious about it, but let’s just say a repeat of this would be a disaster (like the last 5 seasons of 24).

If Fox were to market this day they would say, “This is going to be the longest day of J- Cauvin’s life.”

I know how you feel Jack, we each had promising shows that went shi*ty.