What brings this Luddite rant on, and yes I appreciate that I'm using another form of social media to spread it, is the last 24 hours of my Facebook account. See, I was quite dim and trusted things to work as designed. Silly me, you think I would have learned my lessons before!
But no, I had to assume that a multi-billion dollar company would have decent tech support, and that a publication vetted by the Departments of Defense and the Army would be careful picking vendors when it came to managing their web content. I laugh now, of course. I can still remember how sloppy their were in vetting the taco truck guys at Fort Benning!
So here's what happened: yesterday, while doing my daily reading of the Book of Faces, I found a story on the Army Times page that was interesting. Even though I've been out for 30-odd years - and some of them were very odd years indeed! - I still follow stories about the Army as an interested veteran. In this case, the article was about a proposal before the Sergeant Major of the Army concerning facial hair.
See, the Army bans beards, unless you need to wear one for religious reasons or have a medical profile stating that you can shave. Even then, those beads need to be tightly trimmed and neat in appearance. Mustaches are allowed, but they can't extend beyond the edge of the mouth and again, must be neatly trimmed.
I think they allow mustaches just for the giggles senior NCOs get watching 19 year old PFCs trying to grow a decent 'stache. Gotta find amusement somewhere!
But I digress. The argument against beards was uniformity of appearance, being able to properly wear protective gear like helmets and protective masks (what we call gas masks), and the usual "why change?" crowd. The pro side was countering with the experience of our NATO allies, who do allow facial hair without problems, the fact that the US Army hasn't been gassed since 1918, and the fact that up through WWI beards were just fine in the service.
Interesting stuff, and there was a poll attached. Three questions on the subject. Being a noisy bastard, I took the poll, and because I have many friends who are veterans or military service all over the world, I posted the link to my Facebook. By Patton's Pistols, that was a mistake.
My initial post was cloning itself every three minutes. Copy after copy. With no way to stop it! At one point last night Kirsten was seeing 54 distinct posts of the same thing. Which meant almost everyone on my friend's list was getting spammed by this damn thing, as horrific a breach of etiquette as you can find in the more polite end of the ol' interwebs.
In between marathon deletions of the offending post, I was trying to wave down someone, anyone, to help me with this nightmare. Apester, the company that was handling to poll software at least got back to me, and I submitted a trouble ticket with them. I emailed the webmaster at the Army Times to tell him that there might be a bad code issue with the poll, and never heard back. And Facebook? I laugh because murderous rampages are really tiring.
Ever needed help with something on Facebook? Good luck. Rather than actual help you are faced with page after page of FAQs on common issues. No human, not even a helpful script to be found. Of course, my issue was decidedly uncommon, so not a single option they had applied. There's no email address for firstname.lastname@example.org or the like. No toll-free number you can call. Just a sad little web form that still tries to force you back into their self-help pages before admitting you have a problem. No idea if anyone reads those submissions.
I ended up disabling my Facebook account to prevent everyone from getting buried in my opinion about soldierly beards. Which pisses me off now end, as Facebook is my primary way of staying in touch with friends and family. This stupid error also adversely affected my sleep as I was worrying about losing years of photos and information.
The happy ending. Sort of. One of Kirsten's contacts explained the nuclear option of deauthorizing all apps on my page. It worked, and my page is back up. A bit crippled, but it's there.
Now, If y'all will excuse me, I'll be writing a strongly worded letter of complaint in cuneiform on this clay tablet.