Look at this picture and ask yourself if it is funny, or if it is … something other than funny:
I have about five friends, if you count people that I care a great deal for, that are very important to me, and that a) I am not married to b) am not otherwise related to and c) am not stalking. OK, maybe four. The point is, I recognize the difference between real life meatspace friends and Facebook friends.
Having said that, I have some friends on Facebook (and maybe Google+ friends?) whom I don’t know in meatspace but who I do think of as friends because we have regular, positive interactions. Just the other day, I had a long talk with Claudia about life. Gwen is always there to support a progressive ideal when the arguing starts. I asked for a favor just a little while ago and Aseem immediately came to my aid. These are people I’ve never met before but I consider friends anyway. Funny how facebook works.
But since I am a facebook slut, and shamelessly use facebook to promote my political agendas and my blogs and stuff, I have ended up with a LOT of “friends” on facebook … over 4,000 … and many of them are people I don’t interact with, or people who may not even be active on facebook, or in some cases, people who are not even people but still count on the Tally of Friends. And, as I understand it, once you hit 5,000 friends, you can’t have any more. For some reason, whatever Facebook is, and whatever a Facebook friend is, you can’t have more than a certain number which happens to be a nice round number, according to the people who make up these rules at Facebook Central. Why 5,000? Because people who are in charge of made up realities tend to be utterly arbitrary in how they spec out those realities. Think playground. Making up the rules of some new game you are making up. That’s what Facebook is.
Anyway, with 4,000 plus friends, I realize that at some point I may have to tell people they can’t be my friend, but instead, they must Worship We as Public Figure. Facebook already gave me the Public Figure page. There are about five people who “like” it. The rule is, I can have 5,000 Facebook Friends but I can’t have 5,001 Facebook Friends, but I can have 5,000 Facebook Friends and 1 person who “likes” me as a public figure. I don’t understand any of this.
So, although I don’t understand it, I think I know what to do about it, and it relates to the photograph above and not just because it is all about math.
Here’s the thing. When I had 2,000 friends, if I noticed that one of my friends posted that picture, I’d confront them. I’d say “hey, do you know that although one might see that photograph as funny from certain perspectives, it actually reifies the myth that girls are bad at math, supports the idea of female inadequacies in some arbitrarily defined area as innate, and urges the objectification of young women in an inappropriate and repressive manner” or words to that effect. And we’d have a conversation, and I would spend some energy on that, and there may or may not be a good outcome.
When I had 3,000 friends, if I noticed that one of my friends posted that picture, I’d probably not approach them in the same way, but rather, I’d be a bit more aggressive. I might say something like “Hey, you dick, this picture damages women, and girls. Who do you think you are trying to meme-out your misogyny?” and then there would be a fight, and Bob, and Jaf, and Stephanie, and Aseem and Gwen and a bunch of others would jump in and if the person who posted the picture didn’t give up right away we’d kick his ass.
But now, I have 4,000 plus friends. So when I see that picture, I unfriend you. Bye. I wanna make room for others.
And that is why when I decided to write this post, I couldn’t find a copy of this picture. I had unfreinded the three or four dickheads who had posted it. Summarily. No questions asked, statements made, or fights started. Making room for people I’d prefer to have as my friends.
Thanks, Aseem for finding that picture for me a mere 45 seconds after I asked for it!
Have you ever done anything or said anything disparaging to girls in relation to math, or more generally, kids in relation to math? About which you might feel guilty? Or, for that matter, have you FAILED to do something to support girls in STEM or otherwise to support math and science education, and thus, because of your LACK OF CONCERN feel guilty?
I can fix that. Click here and relieve your guilt!!!!!