The automation of the Internet begins

I’m a couple of days late on this, but a big congratulations to Endwell, N.Y., whose Little League team won the World Series on Sunday.

It’s especially meaningful to me because Endwell, in central New York near the Pennsylvania border, is just a few miles outside Binghamton, where I attended college.

So in a way, I feel like I was personally connected to this year’s Little League World Series champions. In the same way that Kylie Jenner considers herself one of the Kardashians.

The team from Endwell defeated a squad from South Korea in the deciding game. So you know what they say — all’s well that Endwell.

On another global note, a Civil War ended this week. No, unfortunately, that does not mean the latest Captain America movie was pulled from theaters.

But the Colombian government and its rebel opposition have agreed to a peace accord that officially ends a 52-year conflict.

There’s been a war raging in our hemisphere for more than half a century, and nobody in ShakiraAmerican even knew. The only time we ever even think about Colombia is when we enjoy the things that originated there — like coffee, more coffee, Sofia Vergara and Shakira.

I’m really not sure which of those two exotic females Americans would be most unable to live without. My answer? I could do without Sofia Vergara’s nagging voice, but Shakira’s presence I would welcome whenever, wherever.

OK, enough jokes. Let’s get real now.

One of the major themes in not only this year’s election, but in politics in general, is the economy.

But it’s become an especially charged topic this year amid one candidate’s suggestion that American jobs are being stolen by undocumented immigrants — which economists have debated the truthfulness of.

But as for me, I say those fears are misguided. We’re not losing jobs to immigrants, we’re losing jobs because the American workforce is becoming automated.

Technology has been taking away jobs since the Industrial Revolution. Factories that once required hundreds of workers were downsized with the development of more complex machines.

Computers continued that decline. And now that we’re in the era of smart computers — we’re screwed.

Look no further than Facebook. You all may have noticed that the “trending topics” section along your news feed looks different. And that’s because Facebook recently made the change to remove humans from deciding what’s trending, in an attempt to remove any bias.

AutomationAs a result, we’re no longer informed of why something is trending, but just given a simple list as a result of Facebook’s algorithms. And so far, it hasn’t gone too well.

The words “Megyn Kelly” were trending on Monday, and typically, it’s because she said something stupid. (Although, I’ll be fair, she’s not as big of a blithering idiot as most on that network.)

But instead, her name appeared because a completely fabricated news story was trending about her.

And that, my friends, is something that a computer can’t realize on its own.

So I say let’s change the narrative in politics. Instead of rounding up illegal immigrants, let’s have a mass deportation of smart computers. Because they’re not only taking our jobs, but they’re doing them worse than we could. And that’s tough to do, because humans are natural screw-ups. Just look at what we’ve done to our freaking atmosphere.

Don’t worry folks, the Weinblog will never be taken over by a computer.

Or has it been written by a computer this whole time?

Although I do type this every day on a computer, so it’s not really a trick question.

I don’t even know what I’m talking about. It’s time to go listen to more Shakira. But early 2000s Shakira, none of that “She Wolf” crap.

Yeah, I’m going to let a robot blog for me tomorrow.

Facebook rolled out its expanded ‘like’ options and now there’s no point to Facebook anymore

For years, people have been calling for a “dislike” button on Facebook to counter the popular “like” option.

And there really was never a need for that. Everyone knows that it only would have been used basically as a cyber-bullying tool to discourage and discredit their own friends. And there’s just too much negativity in the world already for that.

But Facebook brass did eventually come around, acknowledging the fact there is a need for people to be able to express greater emotion besides a simple like.

When people post sad news about their pets or grandparents dying, or post an article about a suicide bombing in the Middle East, then we should be able to express our sympathy or our anger.

And now we can.

Facebook reactions

Beginning today (at least it was for me) people can now respond to statuses using emojis or icons that convey six basic emotions — like, love, laughter, amazement, sadness and anger.

Facebook deserves to be congratulated. Humans are complex, multifaceted beings, and limiting us to one single emotion to express ourselves was always too restraining.

And now that it’s fixed, the entire system is broken. Allow me to elaborate.

Facebook was once a useful tool. A way to connect with your friends. To ensure that people you’ve lost touch with never truly fade. To stalk the hot girl you met the night before.

But now that everybody is on it, it’s basically become a popularity contest. Who can make the most endearing Facebook posts that generate the most likes. Achieving 20, 30, 40 likes was a badge of honor. Fifty or more was the equivalent to dating the prom queen.

And 100 or more? Pshh, that was like reaching pure Zen. It’s the Mount Everest of social media. I did it once — don’t ask me how, but it was a special day. It’s right up there with the time I … uh, actually screw it. It was the best moment of my life.

But now the sanctity of Facebook liking just went out the window. With these range of emotional responses, people are going to be very liberal in utilizing them. Indeed, Facebook now appears to be bunching all of them together. As in, it will say “47 people” responded to your post, but it’s spread between the likes, the laughs and the wows.

It means nothing anymore. The system has forever changed. And In the future, we’ll all be telling our grandkids about how we had to earn our Facebook likes.

The lesson? Be careful what you wish for folks.

Because when you get it, you may not “like” it very much.

…allow me to respond to that joke on your behalf.

Facebook angry

We owe Mark Zuckerberg a Social Network Part 2

How many mass shootings will it take for a nation to explore stricter gun control laws?

Sadly, we may one day discover the answer to that question. According to Think Progress, the rampage that occurred in San Bernardino, California at about 11 a.m. local time on Wednesday that left at least 14 people dead was the 352nd mass shooting in America this year.

It means we have about four weeks to squeeze in 13 more so we can match the amount of shootings to calendar days. It’s with the utmost somberness that I say that while simultaneously realizing it may actually happen.

San BernardinoBut plenty remains unknown about the motivation of this deadly incident. So while we wait for that information to matriculate, let’s reserve further judgment and move onto cheerier topics. It is, after all, the night of the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting, or as I like to call it, the night where Al Roker is just there, on my TV screen, and there isn’t anything I can do to stop it.

So what else is going on?

Oh yeah, Mark Zuckerberg is a dick.

Well, at least that’s the takeaway everyone got from the 2010 film The Social Network, which was a really good movie. Let’s be honest. It was dramatic and entertaining with a great musical score. And it also ended up being Jesse Eisenberg’s peak rather than a launching pad to future accolades, as many people thought. What happened, Jesse?

But any ill notion you still may have had about Zuckerberg’s character probably disappeared completely on Tuesday, when he announced he was going to give away 99 percent of his Facebook shares to charity — which total about $45 billion — at some point in his life.

He revealed this in an open letter on Facebook to his newborn daughter, Max, which was probably too long for people to actually read. Including myself.

I don’t care what personality flaws you have, if you’re going to donate yourJesse Eisenberg.jpg entire fortune to charity, then that automatically puts you in the same breath as Mother Theresa. Unless you have asthma. Then it might be two quick, successive breaths, separated by a small wheeze.

But The Social Network, which was based on a book by author Ben Mezrich published in 2009, portrayed Zuckerberg as a cold, selfish, conniving, ambitious, borderline sociopathic back-stabber.

And since it was a movie that most people saw, that ended up becoming the Mark Zuckerberg we all know.

Which is totally unfair. Movies adaptations inspired by real life events are just that: adaptations. It’s not a perfect retelling or a documentary. It’s simply an interpretation that picks and chooses its plot points to fit the desired narrative while amping up the drama to maximize entertainment value.

Zuckerberg-Baby-2Who knows, maybe it is accurate. Maybe he used to be a dick.

But he clearly isn’t one now.

Aside from this ultimate act of philanthropy, it’s also his goal to bring Internet access to the two-thirds of the world that does not have it.

So let’s bring the next chapter of Zuckerberg’s life to the big screen. One that focuses on his humanitarian side. I think we owe it to him. Future generations will rely on movies, and not actual biographical information, to learn about their forebears.

Someone call David Fincher. It’s time to make a sequel.

Although, if we’re going down that road, let’s make a Fight Club 2 first. Then another Se7en.

Followed by a Benjamin Button spinoff.

And then Social Network Part 2. If there’s time.

Barack Obama’s life events on Facebook are much cooler than everyone else’s

Do you like Barack Obama? well now you have the chance to like him even more. By physically clicking the ‘like’ button on Facebook.

By doing so, you’d join the more than 900,000 people who have already done so as of around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night since our president joined Facebook for the first time yesterday afternoon.

It’s almost a little surprising it took so long considering Obama has already proven that he’s social media savvy, and has made concerted efforts in the past to appeal to younger generations.

But nonetheless, nearly seven years into his presidency, Obama has arrived on the ‘book. He can post emojis with the best of them. He can tell us he’s #sorrynotsorry, or he can post about what half of your friends already do on Facebook: telling us how much they hate Obama.

Obama FacebookHis first post provided us with a virtual tour of the White House backyard, with the president taking the opportunity to share his thoughts and encouraging others to talk about climate change.

The post already has more than 38,000 comments, including one by Mark Zuckerberg. But what’s probably coolest about his new page is the addition of “life events,” beginning from his day of birth to now.

We all have the opportunity to share life events on Facebook. So I thought I’d take the time to compare my most significant moments to President Obama’s, listing them side by side.

Obama’s first life event: Born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

My first life event: Born on April 7, 1987 in Long Island, New York.

Pretty even. As of now, Obama and I are on an equal plane. Either of us could grow up to be president. And for my part, I’m not actually lying about being born in the U.S.

Obama’s second life event: Married Michelle Robinson in Chicago.

My second life event: Asked a girl out through instant message.

I’m not going to discredit myself too much here. Obama is a well-spoken, smooth singing, 6-foot-1 lad with a winning smile. He’s the definition of tall, dark and handsome. And for the record, I actually asked a friend to ask the girl out for me through instant message. Needless to say, it was an instant fail.

Obama’s third life event: Sworn in as Illinois State Senator.

My third life event: Saved my first Tamagotchi from dying. Tamagotchi

I remember it well. I forgot to bring the electronic pet to school, and when I got home I immediately noticed he was laboring. I cleaned him up, fed him and sang him a lullaby. Basically, I was doing God’s work.

Obama’s fourth life event: Sworn in as U.S. Senator.

My fourth life event: Completed first college bar hop without passing out.

Bar hopping is an extremely fun thing to do, especially with a group of friends. But the problem is no one ever remembers it from start to finish. However, when you put in the work and build up a tolerance, and make it through from the first bar to last, and keep your wits, man, that’s an accomplishment. With all due respect to Mr. Obama, that’s something that not even he can probably say he did during his time at Harvard Law School. The only bar the geeks there know about is the bar exam. Rim shot.

Obama’s fifth life event: Sworn in as 44th president of the United States.

My fifth life event: Reintroduced Cocoa Puffs into my breakfast repertoire.

Alright, fine, this one isn’t really up for debate. Leader of the free world versus a flavorful morning snack.

I win.

I can’t believe how many people believed this Facebook copyright notice was legit

Facebook feeds across the world were barraged the past few days with a declaration that people amazingly thought would legally protect them from any invasive policies the social networking giant imposes in the future.

Posts like this that get recycled over and over are annoying enough. It’s like the Facebook version of an AOL chain letter. But when they’re so obviously fictitious, and people still somehow believe they’re real, it really makes you shake your head.

The hoax copyright notice went something like, “As of September 29, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future…” and rambled on for several more sentences of nonsense to make laypeople think it was legit.

Firstly, the fact that people thought simply copying and pasting this message constituted a legally binding document is maddening enough. I’ll admit, I have some Facebook friends who did not surprise me in the slightest by posting this. But there are some other people I now learned are much less smarter than I thought.

HoaxThis message pops up every few months. And it’s always immediately shot down as fake. 

Even Facebook basically laughed about it.

The other thing that peeves me is that if you possess a Facebook account, you just have to concede that you are a slave to them. If you haven’t deleted your account yet, you’re never going to.

Facebook can do whatever they want, and we’ll stay right there with them. If you actually care about your information and photos being taken and disseminated, then don’t publish anything that you’d regret being seen. It’s that simple.

Anyone who actually wants to enlighten themselves as to what Facebook does do with your information simply needs to click on its Terms page, which is easily accessible on everyone’s homepage. However, I’d fathom a guess that there are maybe nine people in the world who have ever bothered to read a terms of service page. And those nine people also probably read the instructions before playing board games.

It’s especially bothersome because this stupidity detracted from another piece of news this week that is scientifically groundbreaking. Mars has liquid water. It’s a discovery that means life could exist there.

Just bear in mind that life does not mean aliens. Minuscule things like bacteria and microbes are also alive.

However, if Martians did exist, it makes you wonder if they’d be as stupid as Earthlings.

I guess there’s only one way to find out. Give them a Facebook account, and if they post, “As of September 29, at 9:30 p.m. Mars time, I do not give Earth or any people associated with Earth permission to use my water,” then yes, they are as stupid us.

Is the world ready for a Facebook ‘dislike’ button?

Oh my god that Republican debate.

I thought the one last month hosted by Fox News was bad, but last night’s took it to another level. It was so obvious how hard CNN was trying to bait the candidates into arguing with one another, that it actually became painful to watch.

Donald Trump actually made fun of people. And not like, insulted their policies or their campaign strategies, but the way they look. What the hell? Is this a presidential debate, or middle school cafeteria banter?

Although, I think it occurred to me last night why Trump appeals to so many people. He’s totally incompetent to be president, no doubt, but he’s quick on his wits. When challenged to defend himself, he doesn’t waste time, and he usually gives a sarcastic or condescending remark. He’s almost like a sitcom.

And that’s America in a nutshell. We’re sarcastic. We’re loud. We’re pretentious. People see Trump doing that on a grand Republican Debate2stage, and they say: “That. We want that.”

But anyway, it’s time to talk about something that matters more than who our next president is — the possible addition of a “dislike” button on Facebook.

As everyone knows, we have the option to “like” people’s statuses and photos, which is accompanied by a thumbs-up. It’s a simple, easy way to voice our approval towards something. However, since Facebook’s inception some 10 years ago, people have been calling for an opposing method of one-click response.

I’ve heard a lot of different opinions on this very important subject over the past few days, and it’s clear that most people haven’t bothered to read what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg intends with such a button. Which I’ll get to in a second.

I agree that there is enough negativity in the world that we don’t need to add the ability for us to dislike people’s statuses. Trust me, I mentally dislike 99 percent of the statuses I read, but I would never indicate it publicly. That could lead to anger and hurt feelings. So to even give people the ability to do that is just unnecessary.

But it appears that is not Facebook’s plan at all. According to Zuckerberg, the intent is to allow people to express Dislikeempathy when others post sad news on Facebook, as in a family member’s passing, or an article about a tragic subject.

So it won’t be a simple “dislike,” but rather, a more complex way to voice sympathy and condolences. And if that’s the case, then I don’t see how you can object with it at all. He even made it clear that he wants it to be nothing like Reddit’s “upvote” and “downvote” style.

Personally, I don’t think anything posted on social media is worth getting worked up about. If anything, I advocate for Facebook too add an ‘I Don’t Care” button.

Or better yet: “Was This Really Worth Posting?”

How about this one: ‘Holy Shit, This Republican Debate Was So Embarrassing That I Want To Actually Leave The Country.”

I’d click that button. All day, err day.

Celebrating Facebook friendship anniversaries is a thing now?

The migrant crisis rages on, and Stephen Colbert made his successful Late Show debut last night, but instead I’m going to talk about something completely trivial and borderline meaningless.

I couldn’t help but notice that people are now taking extreme liberties with what qualifies as big news on Facebook.

And I say “I couldn’t help but notice” because while I peruse Facebook several times a day, I don’t typically actually process what’s on there. My friends’ posts containing their frivolous thoughts go in one ear and out the other.

But the site allows people to present their bigger life changes in a different post style, called a “life event.” Its initial intent was reserved for engagements, marriages, pregnancies, births, relocations, new jobs, you get the point.

facebook-friendThere’s really no minimum requirements for what goes on Facebook anymore. People post anything. Hence why I don’t even care enough to use my brain cells to actually process what I am reading.

Unless it’s a “life event.” Those still catch my attention. In fact, when I see the larger font denoting such a post, it usually signals my brain to prep for some really big news. Like some one I knew in college just got married. Or an old high school friend had a kid.

Lately, I’ve been disappointed. Because apparently big life events now include people celebrating their Facebook friendship anniversaries.

Are we being serious here? This isn’t even celebrating the anniversary of the actual date the two people met in person, but instead, the day they clicked on each other’s names on a website and made a friend request. It’s a completely insignificant occurrence.

But the sad truth is that it proves that too many people are becoming too consumed with social media and further disconnected from reality.

To me, Facebook is an entity that has no bearing on my real life. A place I can kill 10 seconds of my time when my undiagnosed ADD distracts me from whatever task I’m doing. A way to check if the hot girl I just met has a boyfriend. An opportunity to see whose birthday it is so I can think about wishing them a happy birthday for a second, then become too lazy to do it and decide to play dumb and pretend I never saw it in the first place.

Here’s an idea. Let’s all agree to delete our Facebook accounts tomorrow.

And one year later, we can celebrate that anniversary as the day the world righted itself.