Stop Poking Me?!


Could someone explain poking on Facebook? Is it similar to winking on How can Facebook concentrate on liking, and yet instill poking? Is it a male 8th-grade sensibility?

Remember that piece in the Sunday New York Times about divorcebeing the one taboo.   We can watch video of “collateral damage,” innocent children, and dictators being killed. But the one thing everyone avoids, not just on Facebook but all social media, is two partners splitting up? Really?

As a couple untwines, they are armed to the teeth against each other, knowing how to sabotage. It’s better than neighbors in Bosnia, or brothers in the Civil War. But no Pinterest. No Instagram.

Why? It’s not because it’s too bitter. (Doesn’t death trump bitterness as something too sordid to see?) No, that’s not why. The why to divorce being taboo has nothing to do with sexism, gender roles, or the best interest of the children. It has to do with arms — people throwing stones from within glass houses. It is mutually assured self-and-collective destruction.

Obviously both sides have their ammunition if you lived together for anything over 3 months. No, what this speaks to is shame. And that’s that men can no longer shame women into silence the way they did before. Or, at least not here in the United States.

No when two sides know everything, they know how to harm each other. And while it used to be that one side could silence the other with shame . . .

–shame through co-optation (the woman takes the money and runs)

–shame with no co-optation (the woman had enough money on her own to run and rescue her children)

or just

–shame on the street (you’re out; you’re fired; you can’t provide for your children)

. . . well, things have changed. Not for everybody, to be sure; and in Manhattan, thestatistics remain the same.

And as the Times has told us, public documents work both ways. It’s messy for Silicon Valley, those Frisbee-playing gerks (combination of geek/jerk = gerk).

It turns out that Silicon Valley may be good at hiring women who front the shop and are not entirely white (Asian women and men are there in higher proportions — just look at MIT’s demographics). But this gets to my four questions for the week, to wrap up in one or two blogs:

  1. Does it matter if women are Telling Stories out of Court? (we will see as we follow the ins and outs of the new round of traditional Title VII cases in California)
  2. Should Hillary Clinton be allowed to hide all her documents (email) whereas other similarly situated Secretaries of State had private email accounts, thought they had faith in how we classify documents as a nation.
  3. How will House of Cards end in February 27, 2016, after all the caucuses and primaries that count been decided? (i.e. Iowa: New Hampshire; Colorado caucuses, Minnesota caucuses; New York; Utah; Nevada caucuses; South Carolina; North Carolina; and Michigan.) Does the cliff hanger promote HC, putting Republicans more on the run?
  4. Did American students finally find a way to challenge authority effectively, through freedom of speech that, at UC Irvine, universally bans flag waving?* The operative word is universal, which I would call Spinozan.

Fred and I will yin-yang about this all week. Because in the end, all we can really say is that we will see, we will see. #FredOBrien, or

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see

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