Manna from Zuckerberg

Sometimes, inspiration just strikes. Other times, inspiration gets some help from the gods of Facebook’s algorithms.

I’m a huge fan of the marketing and outreach of random small businesses and professionals. The lower the budget, the more likely I am to find it deeply charming. My pen drawer is filled with promotional pens from shops around the country, treasures that encourage me to try a Thai restaurant in Chapel Hill, or massages in Boise. I’m not sure why I love low-budget marketing efforts. This isn’t something I do ironically or even derisively. I think I find these things captivating, because I like to imagine the person who chose that ad or that pen design. Who chose the colors, the motifs, the font? For me, random marketing tools raise questions, and boy, do I love me some questions.

In Facebook’s right sidebar, there’s a space where “Suggested Pages” appear. Often they’re indie bands or some friend’s comedy act. But today, mmmm, today the Markest of Zuckerbergs blessed my Facebook directly with The Law Office Sherry L Howard (sic).

I have so many questions, but first, some observations. The page, as I understand it, is for Ms. Howard’s law office. It has 24 likes (at the time of this writing)and two public posts, each from late 2011. The posts, written by another woman, praise Ms. Howard for her insight and acumen (my words). So sometime before November 2011, someone created this Facebook page. It then sat, with no profile picture, until July 10, 2015.

If you haven’t clicked through to look yet, hold off for a moment. Because I’m about to describe this picture, and I want you to have a picture in your head to compare. If you already looked, you can follow along.

Now most law offices, they’d have some boring corporate portrait or logo as their profile picture. You’d expect the lawyer seated, picture cropped about their elbows to show a bit of blouse or tie. But The Law Office Sherry L Howard is NOT here for your cookie-cutter portraits and your basic-ass serious legal looks. The picture is cropped tightly around Ms. Howard’s face, her coiffed platinum blond hair filling the top third of the frame. She wears dark eyeshadow, heavy black eyeliner, and maroon lipstick. Ms. Howard appears to be holding the camera and light source herself, based on the darkness of the surroundings and the angle of the shot. Wearing something black and strappy (is it a gown? is it a bathing suit?), Ms. Howard smiles uncomfortably, looking down and to the right. She is flanked on either side by faux-wood framing and a thin white band, as if she applied a digital frame before posting the picture.

Alright, behold!

Now I have a number of questions, which I hope Ms. Howard would answer, if this essay reaches her (Ms. Howard, please feel free to contact me on Facebook anytime. I would be honored to interview you.). Among those questions is this: why not just a professional portrait?

I’ll tell you why not. Because this lady was feeling her look. Maybe she got done up for a gala, maybe it was just a nice backyard barbeque and she was trying to feel her best. She got her hair looking just the way she likes. She did her makeup, and probably used the expensive products, too. She’s got bling on her ears and around her neck, so you know she’s feeling rich, too. So she took a goddamn selfie (or maybe 10 or 20) and she posted that shit to Facebook, as the good Lord intended. Now maybe it’s not the most natural smile, but honestly, I can’t smile naturally in selfies, so I’m certainly not in a position to judge. And you know what? You don’t need to smile to pass the fucking bar exam.

I do have one more question, though. We know this photograph was posted to the The Law Office Sherry L Howard on July 10, 2015. We know it features Ms. Howard looking dapper. Here’s my question: why doesn’t it have any likes?