Amerika

Farewell to my racist Uncle Bob

soul-isolation_of_social_rank

Dear Uncle Bob,

It’s great to hear from you! How have you been? How was Christmas? How has Lucy been, has she found a new job yet? I hope you, Lucy and Brian are doing well. Over here, things are going quite well. The Christmas tree is beginning to lose its needles, but other than that, we had a great time. It’s a shame we already had plans, I’m sure we’ll celebrate next Christmas together though!

I know you enjoy following the news, so do I. As a result, there’s a bit of an awkward situation that I’m dealing with here, but I’ll try to explain it as best as I can. As you know, I’m planning on setting up my own business. It’s something I’m really looking forward to, but it’s also turning out to be a big responsibility, for me to make the plans to finance this whole endeavor. So far I’ve saved a bit of money and received a contribution from my parents, but I’m inevitably going to have to visit the bank and apply for a loan.

To recap what I told you last time, technology is changing faster than our brains can really cope with at this point, which is why I think it’s a good idea for me to start a business that focuses on providing individual assistance to the elderly to help them avoid the prospect of social isolation as a result of their inability to keep up. I’ll teach them how to set up a virtual avatar, how to configure a webcam, how to download the right apps for their smartphone, etcetera. Most of them have barely gotten used to Facebook, only to find out that their grandkids are abandoning Facebook!

Of course the problem with ventures like these is that the banks are becoming increasingly hesitant to hand out loans to consumers. Back when the shale companies went bankrupt and people started defaulting on student debt in droves it looked like the whole financial system was about to fall apart. Banks responded by crafting a whole new series of guidelines and it has become slightly difficult for the average person to figure out how to make sense of any of the new standards these banks have set up when it comes to good customers.

Which reminds me of something else. A few months ago you were looking for a gift for Lucy’s birthday, but couldn’t really afford anything. You called me up and I helped you out back then, by signing you up for a 100 dollar gift voucher issued by Panoptin co through Facebook. It had something to do with credit and you said that you’re at an age where you’re not planning on taking out any more loans, so we didn’t really think much of it. Lucy enjoyed the gift, bought some new shoes for herself, so all seemed well.

That’s where the problem comes in though. Back when you signed up for Panoptin, Panoptin asked for a whole bunch of data from your Facebook account. They calculated a credit score for you, based on what they call your “individual customer profile”. I tried to figure out what they base this score on, but it’s all rather opaque and the internet is awash with rumors about things that may or may not influence your credit score.

Now the problem here is that as I have no significant assets as collateral for the loan I’m looking for, I need to have a really good credit score myself. Like most people of my generation, I signed up for Panoptin too. This is where the problem comes in however. My score is reasonable high at +42, while yours isn’t, at -56. It used to be -47 last time I checked, but your score has gone down rapidly since then, after a few Facebook posts you made.

The point here is that your score influences my score. The banks figured out that people from certain social environments are more likely to set up failed business ventures. In addition, bankruptcy fraud is often something people engage in by following the example of some neighbor or friend who got away with it. It makes sense for them to desire a clearer image of the type of customers that walk into their office.

I could ask you to remove some Facebook posts you made, but I don’t think that’s going to solve it. I know you think that the vaccine caused little Brian’s autism, I get that it must be hard for you to interpret the convulsions in the back of your car on the way home from the doctor’s office as an unfortunate coincidence. I also know about the recent scandals in India with the barren Dalit women. All of these allegations of yours do go against the scientific consensus however. For you to share these cynical thoughts on Facebook all the time really can’t be good for your Panoptin score.

Nor does it really help that you posted your letter of complaint about the new African James Bond actor on your Facebook wall. I get that the times are changing fast and that it must be uncomfortable for you to see some of the changes in our culture, but these are quite frankly ideas of yours that are outdated and somewhat inappropriate to share in public. Without delving into a deep discussion about birth certificates and assorted issues here, I just want to make clear that I think your score took a big plunge as a result of that outburst.

No man is an island, we live in an interconnected society. Our actions and decisions always affect others around us. In my case, you’re unfortunately the person with the lowest score in my friend list. In fact, you’re the only one with a negative score, so it affects me more than it would otherwise.

It doesn’t really help that all your friends have low scores too. I get that you want to keep in touch with your former colleagues who were laid off at the same time as you were from the oil company, that’s your decision. All of their angry rants about immigrants, Al Gore, the president, Mexico and China that you are so keen on reading and liking end up impacting me too however.

For now, I will have to unfriend you on Facebook. I hope you don’t mind this. I also have to ask you to refrain from calling me on my phone, because I linked my Facebook to my cellphone, as did you. We could theoretically use Skype to talk, but I heard that Microsoft is planning on selling that division of theirs, so I’d rather wait with that, if you don’t mind. If you do want to contact me however, you can send me letters through the snail-mail, the good old-fashioned way.

Of course unfriending you doesn’t have to be forever. If you want, I could drop by and we can figure out how to improve your score. I could probably even put that on my resume, it would look pretty good! I’m sure there’s a lot to salvage here, very negative scores slowly decay anyway. For now I do have some suggestions for you, that I’ll share right now if you don’t mind.

Your friend-list looks awfully white. Do you have to keep all of your fishing buddies in your friend list? Now that you don’t have time to fish due to Brian’s condition they never talk to you anymore and you could probably unfriend at least some of them. You could also add the young Mexican couple who moved in next door to you, I heard Lucy seems to get along with them quite well. That should probably be enough to get you up above 10%.

I know you’re into outlaw country music, your wall is full of it, but last time I visited you listened to some old Louis Armstrong and some interesting blues music. I really don’t want to micromanage your life and I know this sounds ridiculously petty, but you should post some of that stuff on your wall and see what happens. As much as I appreciated that Townes van Zandt song you posted the other day, it doesn’t hurt to try!

Once again, I hope the three of you had a great Christmas together. I’m sorry we couldn’t make it. I’m sure next Christmas will be different however. This message turned out a bit longer than I expected it would, so I’ll go back to working on my business plan for now! Hope to hear from you soon (by snail-mail, not through Facebook!)

Your loving nephew,

Greg

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