In March of 2009 I quit Facebook. I'd only been on it a few months but I rapidly discovered that, while I was an asshole in real life, on Facebook I was an insufferable asshole.
Over the past year or so I found that I missed Facebook. There were people I only kept up with through the site, old friends I'd lost touch with over the years. The kind of people I might not remember to e-mail specifically but who I really appreciated hearing from in a brief status line every so often. "Friend you haven't seen since high school's birthday is today." That kind of thing. So a few days ago I decided to rejoin Facebook and try, very very hard, not to be an asshole this time. All my old settings were still intact -- I still had all my old friends, images, games and whatnot. I picked up where I left off.
Three days later I was unfriended by Jerry Saltz.
And not just unfriended but blocked, too. Jerry's just gone for me now. Poof. Considering he was one of the reasons I came back, this is unfortunate. What did I say?
I know exactly what I said, and I'd say it again.
As every art Website and online publication has already reported, Louise Bourgeois died on May 31. Of course everyone has to jump on this bandwagon, as if having just one blog not mention this would be somehow wrong. Jerry naturally had to join in. One of his status lines read something along the lines of "Fill in the blank: 'Louise Bourgeois' work is ________'" There followed 150 comments and every one positive. Every single one.
Personally I dislike groupthink. And furthermore I think Bourgeois' work sucks. All of it. She's fucking awful. The highest praise I can lavish on her is that she's better than Koons. Her work is dreadful, seventeen kinds of bad on a stick.
So my comment was to the point: "Lousy."
That didn't do it. Later Jerry had a new status update, a quote from Bourgeois: "I have nothing against the penis. It's the wearer."
This struck me as several flavors of obnoxious, but I settled on one I thought was worth pointing out: "I had no idea I was wearing my penis. Let me see if I can take it off...."
Mere moments after posting that and Jerry's status line evaporated from my Facebook page. And when I went looking for it, it was gone. Not just that status line but Jerry's whole Facebook existence. I can no longer see Jerry at all.
I want to make it clear here that I like Jerry. I don't mean to say I always agree with him, but I like him personally. Not that we're buddies or anything but when we've spoken he's always seemed to me to be a nice guy.
And of course it's his Facebook page and if he wants it to be a happy-happy nice-nice land, that's his prerogative. More power to him, I say.
But I'm reminded of something he said. When I was at the School of Visual Arts summer residency back in 2007 Jerry gave us a talk. I forget now what he was talking about at the time but I agreed with him vociferously and he turned to me and, not unkindly, said, "Do you know what I just heard you say? 'Do me! Do me next!'" Which is exactly right. That's what we say to famous people, to well-known people, to people we see as higher up the food chain than we are. We say, "Notice me!" We say, "Fuck me!" We say, "Elevate me! Uplift me! Make me like you!" He's absolutely right.
At the time he made it sound like a bad thing. I've thought of it that way ever since, that's for sure. Why should I beg Jerry to do me? He's just a regular person, after all. Just a writer.
Which is why it's so odd that he'd enforce conformity on his Facebook page. I'd thought it was peculiar, the way the comments all seemed so upbeat and friendly and uncritical. Now I know why. Well, I suppose if what Jerry wants is an audience to cheer him on with peppy advice whenever he, for example, explains in detail why he can't manage to make a decent cup of coffee on his own, he's got it.