SLACKJAW by JIM KNIPFEL
February 1, 2015

The Only One and True Order of Business is Complete Annihilation

 

It was some years back now I got a note from a friend I hadn’t heard from in some time. “I can’t believe you actually have a Facebook page,” he wrote.

            It was justifiable incredulity on his part, as I didn’t have a Facebook page, and never would. Yes, yes, yes, I’ve heard all the bovine arguments on its behalf, but, one, I’m not a sheep, and two, I have no interest in tracking down or being tracked down by people I went to grade school with. Plus I don’t have enough naked pictures of myself to make it worth anyone’s while.

            Curious, though, I took a look, and sure enough there was a fucking page complete with my name and a picture I hated (and moreover one that was never meant to be made public). There was no indication it was just a stupid fan site. If anything it was almost an anti-fan site given whoever was responsible for it was obviously unaware of the last two books I’d released. Worst of all, people were actually posting messages to the fucking thing, clearly under the muddled delusion they were writing to me, that I’d suddenly forsaken everything I’d ever written and embraced everything I despised. Dumbasses.

            I felt the slow burn growing. About a year earlier I had to hack my way through groves of bullshit to get someone (maybe the same guy) to take down a similar Myspace page, and was not interested in going through all that again. Besides, I was thirsty.

            I took one last look at the damn page. It would’ve been simple courtesy, you’d think, to make it clear it was a fan page, but apart from that, and it’s being sorely outdated, and its biographical material coming straight from that hilariously inaccurate Wikipedia page, there was nothing really all that incriminating about it save for the fact that I hated its very existence. And if those melons posting notes were stupid enough to believe I’d actually see them, well so be it. I opted to let it slide. There were better things to think about, like Mr. Magoo and shoes.

            Okay, now jump ahead to a couple of weeks ago. The Kid who was directing Noogie’s Time to Shine, just to be nice I think, put together a snazzy little website to plug my books and post a bunch of unpublished stories. Electron Press will continue to be the exclusive home of “Slackjaw” every week, but slow on the uptake as ever, this new thing was the closest I had ever come to having an actual, official website of my very own.

            As we were getting ready to launch the new site, The Kid made it perfectly clear he really, really wanted to get rid of that fucker on Facebook, whose fraudulent presence was undermining the whole operation.

            Christ, that stupid thing again. I hadn’t thought of it in years and was happy to leave it that way. But then I made the mistake of taking another look.

            At some point over the previous few years, the shadowy loser behind it was no longer content to post outdated, inaccurate information and let morons send messages to nobody. He’d not only started posting little quips as me, he even started responding to people in the first person, offering no indication that he was in fact just some loser playing dress-up.

            Here’s one recent gem from among the posted quips:

December 25, 2014 at 9:57am

Celebrate as you wish. Just don't slip in the eggnog.

            Ahem.

            In another, he posted an old Residents video from the early eighties and talked about how “I” “first saw them on MTV” and “never thought they’d make it.” I don’t know where to begin with everything that’s wrong with that statement.

            Perhaps worst of all, he was getting notes from people whose children had been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa and were looking for advice. I don’t know if he wrote back to them, but I doubt it. What could he say? I may not want to deal with these people myself, but I’m not asshole enough to simply ignore them. I’d at least have the decency to pass them on to my friend Ryan Knighton, who also has RP but is much friendlier than me.

            Yeah, this was all just a little too much. I think what bugged me the most about it was that he wasn’t very good and he wasn’t funny at all. Was he really fooling people? If he was, that’s just depressing.

            Here’s the big question in all this. It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened. What is it with these people? What kind of pathetic loser would ever want to be me? I don’t even want to be me. And given that I’m a pathetic loser to begin with, this must make this guy some kind of SUPER Pathetic Loser.

            Nevertheless, he had to be annihilated like a doodlebug. I would crush his head like an eggshell!.

            The Kid sent the first volley in the form of a friendly, unofficial cease and desist note asking whoever it was to please make it clear it was just a fan site, but received no response. Morgan conceived a number of ingenious, insidious schemes to call him out and humiliate him, but in the end they all struck me as too complex for something I just wanted to go away quickly and quietly.

            It was no surprise, given the nature of Facebook, that the only one who could file a formal complaint about my identity being borrowed by some sad little fucker was me, personally. And the only way I could file a complaint was to register with Facebook. It was a bit like saying the only way I could file suit against, oh, say, BP would be to become a shareholder first. At first the thought was absolutely out of the question. No fucking way I was going to do that.

            But the more I thought about what this lousy little worm was up to, the more I wanted to stomp on him and put it all in the past. If the only way to make him a smear was to sign up then I would.

            Then Morgan found a way to submit an impersonation complaint even if I wasn’t a member. That only made logical sense, right? So she spent Thursday morning filling out online forms and tracking down bits of ID we could submit to prove I was who I was. Her question was, why didn’t the guy behind the fraudulent site have to do the same thing?

            Well, we submitted everything and received a note from Facebook saying they would investigate. We heard nothing after that.

            Then The Kid found out they will only take down an imposter site if there’s another legitimate site to take its place.

            So yeah, this is the way it goes. but it gets even funnier. I finally buckled and filled out the little form. The Kid took it from there, submitting the complaint directly to someone he knew at Facebook, asking if they could obliterate the old site and replace it with the shell of a new one. Oh, but it wasn’t quite as simple as that, see? Because since the smudge had registered under my name as a person named Jim Knipfel, my only option at this point was to register the new site as a fan site. In other words, in the eyes of Facebook and anyone who looks at Facebook, the imposter was the real me, and I was merely a big fan of the imposter. It’s hilarious and terrifying and utterly dispiriting. It’s the world we’re living in. Ain’t it fucking grand?

            I don’t know exactly how it happened, but a few hours after I heard about the above arrangement, the imposter site had been deleted. On the downside though, an actual “official” page with my name on it still exists. This does not make me happy. Worse, even though I am ignoring the site as best I can, I am being bombarded with emails via Facebook from all those people who’d been sending notes earlier. Well, let’s just hope they understand when I don’t respond.

 

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