COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | KATHRYN FEHRMAN

Facebook and the secrets of the universe

Social media. What a trip.

I wasn’t on Facebook much until about a year ago. I did create a profile a long while back, when my then-junior-high-school-aged daughter started using it. Facebook was a useful parenting tool. But then, at the end of her time in college, my daughter’s profile disappeared.

“Why did you go off Facebook?” I asked her.

She replied, “Mom, Facebook’s the devil.” I didn’t argue. Still can’t.

After that, I visited my page and conducted general stalking and surveillance sparingly, until my boyfriend encouraged me to check things out. So I did. (Turns out he’s worth it.) He’s on Facebook for legitimate reasons, not like most of us who are there to connect casually with folks we know, and maybe share some pictures and thoughts. It’s been amusing. I can say that.

In any event, this is what I want to write about: I posted the secrets of the universe on Facebook. About three days ago. Seriously, I did. And it only got one “like” (from a bright and funny friend in New Orleans. Even my boyfriend didn’t “like” it). Meanwhile, photos of my boyfriend and me wearing Red Sox caps last summer at Fenway, and celebrating a birthday in Zion National Park got something like 100 “likes” if you count both our pages.

Now, I’m no genius, but it seems to me that my honey and I might be very adorable and interesting, but we are certainly no match for this:

The secrets of the universe in 8 human minutes and 22 human seconds. On YouTube. I kid you not. ... “The dance of the donuts,” step-bro Mike calls it. ... I hope you like it! ... Mike posted this video by a Princeton professor. I especially like that this physicist tells us to dance, not hit, as we work with atoms and subatomic particles. (Reminiscent of Moses hitting the rock instead of kissing it. Vindication at last!)

The Physical Octave Hierarchy (reference music, rainbows and the cosmic balance of neutrons), the flow of the torus, the vector equilibrium, the star of David, the music of the spheres, the shape of angels and angles, pure energy, primary patterning that fits together as one, the perfect balance of eight electrons in the outer shell, the necessity for the cosmic dance rather than collision of nuclear particles, and the God particle - Higgs Boson (also known by some of my Kabalistic friends as the yud), and more...

God is on his throne, and all is well. ...

This is beyond brilliant. Moses, Rabbi Akiva, Jesus, the Buddha, Buckminster Fuller and all godly physicists and cosmic thinkers, clearly explained in 8 minutes and 22 seconds. Now all we need is the cup of coffee for dunking and I can get back to grading these Appellate Briefs. (Which I did.)

One “like” for the secrets of the universe. 100 “likes” for my beau and me, fully clothed and mostly in sweats. (He says that maybe if I named the post, “Secret-ageddon” then maybe people would read it.)

So, what is wrong with us intelligent folks living free in a democracy? What attracts us to distractions, and not to the secrets of the universe? Why do we permit Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn to suck sweet time out of us and distract us from the truly important tasks: feeding the hungry, relieving thirst and suffering, governing communities, caring for our children and old folks … well, you know. Don’t you?

Is life so empty and without apparent purpose that tweeting about nail polish or our latest lunch fills some existential void? Do we want so much to imitate our celebrities their clothing and lifestyles that we have become a nation of exhibitionists? How many innovations and achievements of the past 50 decades, and how many innovations and achievements of the next 50 decades, will fall to inattention and carelessness as we twitter our little lives away?

Are we so distracted that we ignore real wisdom, and allow our freedom to evaporate?

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." — James Madison

“We don’t reach stasis until we die. Ignoring the few things that are truly important could bring dangerous consequences. Like more hunger and suffering. The struggle must be continuous. Freedom is never a final act.” — Martin Luther King, A. Phillip Randolph, Thomas Jefferson

“It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." — John Philpot Curran, “Speech upon the Right of Election,” 1790

“The struggle must be continuous. Freedom is never a final act.” — Martin Luther King or A. Phillip Randolph

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” — Thomas Jefferson

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." — James Madison

“I have learned a very significant message from the Jewish prophets. They taught that God does not require us to achieve any of the good tasks that humanity must pursue. What Gods requires of us is that we not stop trying.” — Bayard Rustin

“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates that duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” — Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine

“If those in charge of our society — politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television — can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." — Howard Zinn, historian and author

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." —

Olmstead v. US, 277 U.S. 438 (1928) Justice Brandeis dissenting

"If democracy is ever to be threatened, it will not be by revolutionary groups burning government offices and occupying the broadcasting and newspaper offices of the world. It will come from disenchantment, cynicism and despair caused by the realisation that the New World Order means we are all to be managed and not represented." —

Tony Benn, British Labour Party member of Parliament

“From this it follows that revolution is seen not only as the transfer of political and economic power, but as the creation of an alternative hegemony through new forms of experience and consciousness. This is different from the more familiar Marxist view that change in the economic base is what matters and that change in the superstructure is a reflection of this; instead, the struggle for hegemony is seen as a primary and even decisive factor in radical change, including change in the economic base itself.” — Alan Bullock and Stephen Trombley, “The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern Thought,” 1988

"Cultural influences have set up the assumptions about the mind, the body and the universe with which we begin; pose the questions we ask; influence the facts we seek; determine the interpretations we give these facts; and direct our reaction to these interpretations and conclusions." — Gunnar Myrdal, “An American Dilemma,” 1944

“You can’t beat away darkness with a stick. You have to turn on the light.” — The Lubavitcher rabbi

Fehrman is a professor of legal skills at California Western School of Law.

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