If, like me, you are a fan of Dilbert and The Far Side comic strips, you can join a Facebook group in which fellow fans share vintage strips so you can get your daily laugh at the antics of the pointy-haired boss, Wally, Catbert, mad scientists, women in beehive hairdos, and cows. It’s great–until you notice that what is supposed to be a feed of enjoyable comic strips has also become a free forum for people to vent their political spleens, and those notices of new group postings that you are getting are taking you to purely political rants.
That’s what happened to the Dilbert Facebook group that I originally joined. Very quickly, the political postings overwhelmed the posts that actually had something to do with Dilbert. So I quit the group, reasoning that I get a sufficient diet of different political memes and viewpoints from the group of Facebook friends on my news feed, without needing to add whatever screeds might be posted by strangers who have joined what is supposed to be an innocent cartoon enjoyment forum. Fortunately, I was able to find a group formally titled “Dilbert (no politics)” to give me my Dilbert fix without the political overtones.
I get that, for many people, politics is all-consuming, at whatever point on the political spectrum they are on. Still, it seems weird to me that we need to form specific “no politics” Facebook groups to prevent intrusions into groups dedicated to comic strips, or sports, or cast-iron cooking, or needlepoint. You would think that people would realize that the groups aren’t formed for that purpose, and the audience isn’t really keen to have strident politics injected into their fun. Does anyone really think people might change their political views due to a diatribe posted in a Facebook group focused on some non-political topic? I’m guessing that most people react as I do and just leave the group, shaking their head at the notion that Facebook groups can become political battlegrounds and wondering at the fact that, these days, it seems harder and harder to get away from politics.
In the midst of a cold, dreary winter and a continuing pandemic and quasi-lockdown, I really enjoy a good laugh now and then. So lately I’ve been trying to use Facebook to join groups where the posts are likely to give me a smile.
My two favorite comic strips, ever, are The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. That opinion apparently is shared by many people out there in social media land, because there are lots of Facebook groups just for fans of those classics from days gone by, where the participants can post favorite selections from those legendary strips. By joining the groups, I now get a regular feed of Gary Larson’s takes on cows and dogs and insects and scientists, and Bill Watterson’s treatment of Calvin’s Mom and Dad and disgusted friend Suzy again. And a recent post made me remember how much I enjoyed the Calvin snowmen strips like the one above — which seems apt, right now, with those of us in Columbus being in the middle of a frigid, snowy period.
Social media obviously has some pluses, and just as obviously has a lot of minuses, too. I figure it makes sense to reorient and exert some personal control and direction over the whole Facebook experience, mix some humor in with the politics and the ads, and try to put the social media world to better use.
Gary Larson’s The Far Side was unquestionably one of the most original — and funniest — cartoons ever conceived. It ran from 1980 to 1995 and brought a daily chuckle to millions of fans, including me. When it ceased its run we groaned, but clung happily to our favorite Far Side offerings. But recently The Far Side‘s official website posted a new cartoon, featuring the familiar Far Side cows, dogs, and women wearing cat-eye glasses being blowtorched out of an iceberg. Under the drawing was the announcement: “Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!”
I don’t think you can overestimate the significance of bringing a smile to people’s faces, especially in this era of so much rancor and discord. It would be a great thing if The Far Side made its return to brighten our days, Then, we could all start lobbying for a return of Calvin and Hobbes, too, and all would be right with the world.
I always feel sorry for dogs that have to wear one of those neck cones. They’ve got to be embarrassed. Having to wear a cone shows that you don’t have the kind of control that a self-respecting dog really should have, and the only way you can be stopping from worrying stitches or constantly licking a wound is through some artificial restraint. And, because you’re wearing an embarrassing neck cone, you can’t do what a dog needs to do — like chew from time to time on your back leg.
Yes, I’ve always thought: dogs must really hate those neck cones.
It’s nice to see a confirmation that dogs definitely have complex feelings, too. Now if we could only figure out a way to test that The Far Side cartoon that postulated that dogs don’t like to stay inside playing the violin while other dogs are outside, pestering the postman.
I enjoyed Richard’s post on Bill Watterson, and it reminded me of how much I miss the comics pages from the late ’80s and early ’90s. At that time, there were three comic strips that were must reading: Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, and Dilbert. All were radical departures from the popular comic strips of the ’60s and ’70s, strips like Blondie and Peanuts. Unlikethe standard strips, Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, and Dilbert often involved bizarre situations, distorted realities, and plots that assumed that the reader was reasonably intelligent and well educated. Perhaps for that same reason, unlike the standard strips, Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, and Dilbert were consistently hilarious.
These three strips hold up remarkably well. At home we’ve got “treasury” collections of each, and they remain a pleasure to read even today, decades after the strips were first published. And they also pass the true comic strip acid test: stroll among the cubicles in any office building, and you are sure to see Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert, and The Far Side strips tacked onto cubicle walls or slid under glass desk tops, there to forever brighten the days of white-collar workers.