How much I despise Facebook's 'trending' list is confirmed every time I inadvertently glance at the strategically placed banner to the right of my newsfeed. Not only a danger to the way we understand what the news is or what is newsworthy (if it isn't trending on facebook, it doesn't exist), the list is determined to drag me down into a cesspool of mostly Kardashian-related, [insert other less known reality stars or B-list celebrities here] news despite my best intentions. It doesn't help that the Science or Politics tabs are frequently populated with items that also appear on the so-called Entertainment tab, which uses the misleading icon of a film camera as its button, when an emoji based on any one member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan would be a much more marketable 'hook'.
Hooray for Facebook's classification algorithm (& for humanity in general)! But that is besides my point.
Today, I clicked on the film camera button hoping that there was some #trending piece of information that was not about how #BurgerKingMakesYourFaecesGreen. I was surprised by the second trending topic: 'Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Small Crowd Protests Painter Outside Museum of Fine Arts in Boston' (which is now on top on my overall #trending list...Facebook is watching me). First because, hey, it's not every day Boston gets on the #trending list. Second, because I couldn't quite figure out why anyone would be protesting Renoir.
In the brief space of time between seeing and clicking, I made two guesses:
(A) Someone must have discovered something really nasty about Renoir, his political affiliation or his sexual mores;
(B) Someone must have discovered something really nasty about the person or persons that bequeathed many Renoirs to the MFA, their political affiliation or their sexual mores.
I was wrong.
According to the Boston Globe article, the protest, organized by 'like-minded aesthetes' who don't think Renoir's art is that good and want the MFA to replace him with other artists, was 'playful'.
What this means:
1. Good news: People care enough to make their point, in a very public manner (it's trending on Facebook, remember), with a sense of self-deprecating humor ('are they really picketing for art when there are people dying by the thousands in the Mediterranean/in mass shootings?!?!') and are owning it big time. I thought what they did was fantastic and I'm following this guy (@renoir_sucks_at_painting) on Instagram, stat.
2. Bad news: It seems that I, on the other hand, have completely lost (a) my faith in humanity (b) my sense of humor. The assumptions that underpinned my first reaction to the title were based on (1) an incessant stream of 'bad news' coming from everywhere, reaffirming how terrible the human race is (2) the reasons why an artist or literary figure will usually make a headline almost a century after their death - their art was sold at $$$ millions or they were in fact perverted, immoral, criminal, racist, sexist, molesters etc (3) that no one protests 'ironically'.
Thank you Renoir haters, and thank you Facebook #trending.