Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Facebook stalking, Zen and the art of gasoline huffing, and a reader bares her ugly insides

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Matt Labash
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      Matt Labash

      Hi, welcome to “Ask Matt Labash.” I’ll be your host, Matt Labash. The idea for this column – if idea isn’t too strong a word – is that it is not a column at all. Rather, it’s a conversation. One in which I do ninety-five percent of the talking. If you did most of the talking, you’d have to watch my eyes go dead and my attention wander until it was my turn to talk again. So trust me, it’s better this way.

      For those unfamiliar with me from my day job at The Weekly Standard, I’ll give you a capsule bio by way of introduction: I have the gift of wisdom. Does that sound arrogant? I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t choose wisdom. It chose me. If I had my druthers, I’d have chosen another gift, perhaps the untold riches of Lil’ Wayne, whose teeth are made of actual diamonds, or to be the sexiest man alive, like Rachel Maddow. But wisdom is what they gave me, so wisdom is all I have to give back to you.

      This is not, you should know, a mere advice column. If you need advice, I’ll give it. But the only rule here is that there are no rules. You can ask me a question about anything that’s on your mind: current events, pop culture, media, theology, string theory, fishing tips, wicker repair. The only limits we have are those of your imagination. And those of my knowledge base. Which is considerably limited, truth be told. So try not to ask me anything that requires research. Though they tell me I have access to Google on this computer if we need it.

      If all goes according to plan, ours will not be a traditional writer/reader relationship. It’s more complex than that. I might empathize or cajole. I might educate, instruct, or inspire. I might pretend to answer your question while actually reporting you to Social Services, since you’re a dangerous person who should not have contact with children. I might tell you to climb up on my shoulders, that you’re not heavy, you’re my brother. Or I might tell you that you are heavy, and that you should hop down until you lose a few pounds. I might just sidle up behind you, put my big strong man hands on the small of your back, and whisper in your ear the words of the poet, Kenny Rogers: “We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?”

      To which you’ll say something like, “I can’t, I’ve got to go home and wash my hair.”
      To which I’ll say something like, “Shhh. We’ve got tonight babe, why don’t you stay?”
      Wherever this takes us, our journey begins now:

      <i>Matt Labash is a senior writer with The Weekly Standard. His first book, <a href="">Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys</a> will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.</i>

Editor’s Note: Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here

Dear Matt: Every time I meet a hot new girl (or guy), I’ll go home afterwards and check them out on Facebook, even if I don’t “friend” them. Is that what they call “Facebook stalking”? And if everybody does it, is it really “stalking”? Maybe I just dislike the phrase. I know my mustache does.  –  Arty Goldbergstein 

First off, thanks for writing. I’ve been at this a while now, and have had precious few bisexual mustache questions.

In early 2009, I wrote what some consider the angriest anti-Facebook piece to date, subtly titled, “Down with Facebook.” It was a clarion call, a dog whistle sounded to other Luddites, non-joiners and general resisters which declared, as Michael Jackson sang before me, “You are not alone.” With the Internet then in its infancy, MJ couldn’t have even known there would be such a thing as Facebook when he released the 1995 platinum-selling single off his HIStory album. There’s not a lot of time for anticipating the future when you’re so engrossed in the present — having pillow fights with 11-year-old boys and playing with your monkey.

I only bring MJ up to humbly note that I’m like a philosophical Emmanuel Lewis, sitting on the shoulders of giants. But while some people like to read history (kidding — nobody reads anymore), I prefer to make it. Which is how one little piece in the Weekly Standard stopped Facebook dead in its tracks.

Need proof? Recently, reported that the rate of Facebook growth in the U.S. and Canada has slowed to a trickle. While it had been growing by 20 million new users per month over the past year, the rate of growth has fallen to 11.8 million new users in May. A mere 687 million people now use it worldwide. Do the math, Facebook — it’s over. Don’t be surprised if a year from now, nobody even remembers Facebook, opting instead for the next-big-thing social networking site — Epernicus, for research scientists. There, you can meet hotties like Shirley Wu who is not only easy on the eyes, but who knows a little something about protein function prediction and annotation using machine learning and text-mining methods.

That said, in the short time Facebook has left before extinction, don’t beat yourself up for Facebook stalking. Oftentimes, the very word “stalker” carries negative connotations. But what, really, is stalking, other than affection that is fully convinced of itself in the face of indifference? That’s why I try to go gentle on my own stalkers, such as the young lady who kept sending self-addressed stamped envelopes while requesting a used pair of boxer/briefs.  Used by whom, she didn’t say. So I sent her a pair of Jim Treacher’s. (She was grateful, reporting that they smelled like water-blossom ivy, lemongrass sage, and Indianapolis.)

But why do people go on Facebook, if not to see and be seen? Much the way I like to tell nervous nellies in my airport security line that if they don’t like getting groped by sweaty-palmed TSA agents, then they ought to take the train, I’d similarly caution Facebook stalking “victims” that if you don’t like perverts using your photos to butter their own corn, as we agrarian types say, then don’t post them online.  

But of course, that is a risk most are willing to take. In fact, don’t discount the notion that people who pretend otherwise secretly like getting stalked on Facebook, going so far as to enjoy you and your mustache’s sense of smarmy shame. As the late aphorist Mason Cooley said, “If modesty disappeared, so would exhibitionism.”

  • agtw31

    i don’t use facebook.i don’t need facebook.
    i use a phone and talk to people that are my friends.

  • captaingrumpy

    I have never posted a photo on facebook,But my wife plays the farm game,in my name.Well i get these E-Mails that say someone wants my help to bring in crops.I didn’t know what the hell it meant until a friend told me.Well nowdays,I give a comment or two to the Wash Post which has a facebook page and sometimes I get likes and so on and so on.
    My life is my life and I don’t care what others think about me(to a point).You should not see a picture of me and I hope you don’t.(scare the kids). It’s a pity the kids don’t think the same about others that they do about themselves.

  • speppers69

    Agnes…you don’t have to look at the pictures OR read Matt’s “incoherent thicket”. That just leaves more for those of us that actually LIKE looking at the pictures AND reading his “thickets”. Considering the bulk of the Daily Caller’s front page is taken up by ugly, wrinkled, old politicians or liberal idiots…looking at Matt’s adorable mug on the ride side is a rather pleasant diversion. And it also reminds me that it’s time to get out the vice and tie a few number 18 pheasant tails!

    • DaveT3000

      Always good to hear from Labash’s mother


      “69″ eh?