I woke up Saturday morning wondering what I could write about. My main feature on Whitley Strieber and three decades of anal probes is bogged down. Last week he had the bad manners of releasing his umpteenth alien book. Of course, I just had to stop and read that, even though I knew it would cause another delay and rewrite. Sadly, it was entirely predictable.
Spending some time the night before on my favorite FB Page, Midcentury Fashion, I saw where the administrator shared a magazine cover. I’m in the middle of old magazine nostalgia anyway, so it looked interesting. The March 1960 cover of Teen Parade featured a story by Shelley Fabres, advising on everything a teenage girl in 1960 should know. Back in the heyday of teen magazines, a celebrity’s publicist would grant the use of their client’s name for a ghostwritten article. Most articles offered very neutral parent-approved advice for the 11 to 14-year-old target demographic, a couple of quotes from a press release, ending with a penultimate paragraph promoting the celeb’s current project.
The word “petting” on the cover confused some of the younger people on the page. The term was popular from the 1950s to the mid-1960s and was archaic by the early 1970s. For the record, petting meant a heavy make-out session where couples engaged in everything except a sex act. Of course, one thing leads to another, so the mothers of the era forever warned virginal daughters of the Three “P”s of Disaster: Parking, Petting, and Preggers!
And so it went, most of us making humorous riffs, posting about how times had changed and how quaint it seems now. Somehow all this levity outraged one woman, and she particularly took umbrage at my bon mots about the Three “P”s.
At first, I took this to be a pleasant conversation.
Still thinking we were chatting and kidding around, she replied:
Even though that was a reference to my parents marrying in the mid-1950s and thereby producing me, she didn’t like it. Overnight, she became very irritated. Come Saturday morning, I awoke to her saying she hit a nerve. I assured her that wasn’t the case. As people were becoming more and more outraged by the magazine cover, I simply stated people were taking the page out of context, getting upset, and lapsing into hysterics. Since January, this group has been invaded by much younger keyboard warriors. They think the purpose of the page is to ridicule everything prior to 2001 and are forever starting fights about how superior things are now. In reality, the page is simply a celebration of fashion back then, as everyone dresses like a slob nowadays.
Anyway, her next post seemed a bit stiff, and I thought she was getting ready to leave.
Bidding her a fond farewell, I shared a clip of Happening ’68. I was posting about 1960s music shows on a friend’s page, so I thought I’d share some good vibes. This show always ended with the catchphrase, “Have a Happening!”, which meant something good and profound happening to you.
This time the woman took umbrage and started hurling insults. Now, I was boring.
I finally had enough. I gave her one last shot across the helm, and she scampered off.
Hopefully, the lady didn’t go on to slam the kettle on the hob or smack her hubby when he said, “good morning, dear!” Her profile picture is a scrubby palm tree, like those in Flordia. Perhaps location and heat were the reasons for her irritability. I wouldn’t wish the State of Florida upon anyone, given its crazed mini-Mussolini governor who likes to prance around in white Go-Go boots to amuse the meth-mouth set. Or, it could have just been constipation.
This morning, Palm Sunday, I awoke before 8 AM, which is no mean feat. Booting my iPhone, my FB notifications binged. Someone was rending clothing over the 1960 beehive bubble hairdo. Outrage never ends! According to this keyboard warrior, those elaborate hairdos, makeup, and good grooming were a sign of oppression because women are not supposed to spend time looking good anymore. Seriously? The hairstyles and fashions of the early 1960s were FREEING! Women could now dare to wear cutting-edge fashions, elaborate hairdos, and expressive makeup without being labeled a tart. It was a time of change, with women throwing off the constraints of the conservative 1950s, and making decisions for themselves.
A part of me wondered if she rolled out of bed, into a T-shirt, and squeezed into yoga pants. Then she sauntered off to Sunday bunch with one fiber of lycra between her and a flying free show disaster. I remained mum, though.
Well, Facebook Lady, thank you for this story. It was effortless; it really did write itself. Anger is the one thing that fuels social media. Happy people do not click the links on adverts, so Facebook’s algorithm is written to promote posts containing anger and outrage. It is a dumpster fire of perpetual discord. As tone is not conveyed well in the two-dimensional world of social media, even the most neutral post can be read as an affront. People are simply projecting their own feelings upon the words of a total stranger, and most of their feelings are unpleasant.
And so it goes. The best of intentions can start a war on any social media outlet. But I can’t help but think of that poor FB lady, though. After the dust had settled, I wonder if she ever realized no one was talking about the 1950s. The post was about the 1960s.
This post was published on 1 April 2023 and updated for the Grea Beehive Outrage.