Pierogis Almost Forced Me Off Facebook Forever

Until I reluctantly came crawling back.

by Jeff Vrabel
Feb 13 2017, 1:00pm

bhofack2/Getty Images

If there's one thing we all know to be true, it's that we should abandon Facebook now. I knew this. And in all likelihood, you know this. 

You can't swing a dead cat around the internet without bumping it into studies proclaiming how we're all burning the precious gift of life on a yawning vacuum packed with screaming idiots, masked cries for help from vague sad people we no longer know and whatever our exes are doing, which, surprise, doesn't help anything. (Science, incidentally, also frowns on swinging dead cats, but I couldn't find any studies on that.)

So while we all should quit for very good reasons, I ended up quitting, like I do most things, because of pierogies. 

Unless at some point in the past you were my grandmother, you probably don't often make pierogies, which are dumplings of unleavened dough that are stuffed with all manner of traditional Polish/Slovak delicacies, such as cheese, onions, sauerkraut and cabbage. They are readily purchaseable in the Frozen Potato section of your local grocery, are best when sauteed in butter and onions, and tend to make your entire kitchen smell like Bratislava.

Now, there are people who will tell you Binghamton, NY, is the pierogi capital of America, but these people are filthy, dumpling-eating liars. Northwest Indiana runs pierogies, bitches. Whiting, Indiana, actually, is home to an annual event known as Pierogi Fest, a festival held on the shores of scenic Wolf Lake in Whiting (civic slogan: "Yes, It Usually Smells Like This") that draws tens of thousands of actual visitors and performers, one of whom was singer Crystal Gayle, who is OBSESSED with unleavened dough (my dad snapped a picture of her walking offstage, ostensibly on her way to fire her agent). 

Among other things, Pierogi Fest features an anthropomorphic pierogi walking around with the name of Mister Pierogi, who looks more like a lopsided white Twinkie with shoes, but it's cool. One year the festival housed the world's largest pierogi, a hideous behemoth clocking in at 78 pounds. It's a big deal, is what I'm saying.

Anyway, back in November, in the last-ever days of a pre-President Trump Earth, days I'll forever remember with murderous wistfulness, I pitched headlong into Facebook, submerging my face in the political-social swamp and rarely surfacing for air, scrolling, clicking, grabbing my phone first thing in the morning, looking of course for digital assurances that my perceived and preferred outcome was not just necessary but a hilariously statistical inevitability. So yeah. That went pretty well. 

Naturally, the subsequent week was a death spiral of depression, binge-eating nachos and a stark rethinking of everything I thought I knew, so my post-worldfuck Facebook hiatus wasn't a decision so much as a necessity. I tried to run more. I read a book, an object that doesn't emit a dead blue glow when you read it, nor does it implicitly remind you that your country has handed the death codes, alien corpses, and healthcare of many of your friends to a fat pumpkin whose followers have all, at one point or another, considered a major issue and wondered what Charlie Daniels thought about it. 

I tried, however late and predictable, to replace the news I'd been pouring into it. Fake or not, news is worse when people are shouting at you, and that's what my feed felt like, a three-deep row of needy strangers, lined up like at Main Street USA, all shouting and shouting and shouting. It's a hell of a way to start your morning, and it's what I was used to. 

The holidays being the holidays, I grew back in slowly, popping in to check on the progress of my friends' ill baby or holiday-family portraits, which I actually enjoy. I made it through the first month of the year with only this moderate use. Until the pierogi thing happened. To date, my last status update was a matter of deep insignificance, a photo of my old hometown newspaper, whose front page announced that for New Year's Eve the city would be hosting not a ball drop but a Pierogi Drop, because northwest Indiana is nothing if not on-brand. 

There were about three likes from potato-loving family before the thread was straight-up jacked by a high school friend/Trump supporter dropping in with a highly out-of-left field comment about the Obamacentric story underneath. If I was looking for a universal sign that it was time to quit social media, a Trump supporter jacking up a pierogi status update was pretty much it. There are kind, thoughtful people online using it for positive, uplifting means. I can't get over these other ones. 

The hell of all this, of course, is that my job demands social media; it's probably the only reason you're reading this, unless you're my editor or got here looking for pierogi recipes, in which case email and I'll hook you up with my grandma's—she was made of soul and steel and would not serve you anything unless it was constructed from cheese and potatoes and weighed at least 40 lbs. 

So my resolution has evolved: Use Facebook when necessary, and mostly for work, though I reserve the right to throw up a kid picture if I deem it appropriately adorable. By now I've been gone long enough that my algorithm is all messed up; I've thrown lemonade into the circuits of Facebook's mind-reading robots, who have suffered through a brief hiatus from trying to figure out what interests me. I, on the other hand, might now find time to remember. 

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