TOOLS FOR STALKERS & HATERS:
The Honesty Box, Brought 2 U By FB
Sometimes, while surfing the web, I discover things by accident. Web surfing for me is never something I set out to do on purpose. I don’t sit down at my computer and think to myself “I’m going to send two or three hours down the toilet looking at inane videos: a turtle humping a shoe or a polar bear making out with a wolf. It can happen at 4:30 a.m. after checking my email or FB page just one more time before going to bed, then before I know it, it’s dawn. Or maybe I get up at 6:30 a.m. to pee and on my way back to bed check in on the same only to discover it’s now lunch time and i’m having breakfast.
But I digress.
On one of these wild rides of distracted inquiry, snooping, indulging in nostalgia, forgetting the time, I found a FB page for a group called “What Happened to the Honesty Box?” I did a search and “liked” it (temporarily) so i could check out the comments. Apparently, there’s a whole group of devotees who used this app to anonymously speak their minds to countless others. Here’s how it worked. You could send an anonymous message saying you had a crush on someone, or maybe something less innocent, like your deep admiration for one or more of their body parts. Conversely, you could also tell someone “You’re a piece of shit!” or “You are a pretentious, self-absorbed jerk-off.”The possibilities were endless, I’m sure.
I don’t do apps on FB because, as I tell all those who poke me, send butterfly kisses or Vampire food, “They get all in your stuff.” But if ever I was tempted by a app it was this one. Not because I wanted to use it (I can happily tell people they’re assholes and claim full credit for it) but because I saw it as a great tool of trash voyeurism–kind of like reading the National Enquirer and flipping through all the pictures of Fat, lipstick-smeared Courtney Love, Charlie Sheen’s record-breaking assholery, Anna Nicole Smith’s (RIP) psycho-clown pushing a baby stroller.
This ability to strike like an invisible cobra caught my attention at this particular time because a dear friend of mine died recently and a wealth of tributes, remembrances, poems, photos, recordings and videos have been flooding my FB wall and email inbox.
One of these was a long “poem” two thirds of which was a tirade about a personal feud between my friend and the author of the poem who I’ll refer to as X. It repeated a very nasty phrase of name-calling to explain, in X’s view, the reason for my friend’s taking sides with someone X disliked and was involved in a legal dispute with. These attacks were embedded in a text which also outed my friend’s petty criminality–though most, if not all those who knew him were aware of his mischief. What struck me was the idea that X hadn’t spoken to my friend for at least two years, despite his fragile state and their purported friendship of at least four decades. It was as if X was now free to spew venom all over the place (this “poem” showed up in multiple forwarded emails and tribute pages) while making a feeble attempt to put in a few positive words and to associate ___self with the great man, their decades long “friendship.” You can’t have it both ways.
It’s not that I believe in deification of the dead. But I also don’t believe in defecation all over the dead merely weeks after their demise.
The internet provides unfortunate opportunities to unburden yourself, even to people you know, without having to confront them face to face. Many friendships have ended because of the premature click of the Send button. Many on the “What Happened To The Honesty Box” group page wrote about such regrets and further searches came up with many bemoaning the inability to delete their missives. I would imagine that like using the “Honesty Box,” publicly shouting at the dead the things you only said behind their back when they were alive can be a great catharsis. I suppose it’s not dissimilar to exposing yourself on the D train: “Look at me! I’m in your face and you can’t get out of here.) Even more, it’s a great big razz: “I exist–and you don’t!”
Honesty Box? Sometimes honesty isn’t the best policy. Especially when you delude yourself that your own hateful self-expression is honesty when it’s just plain hateful.