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    A retiree’s group for cheese toast lovers is an earnest glimpse of Weird Facebook

    Scott Kominkiewicz all of a sudden had plenty of time on his arms. After retiring from a profession as a copywriter and highschool English trainer, the 60-year-old discovered a brand new mission: to good one of the best approach for making cheese toast. Yes, that’s merely cheese on toast. 
    In January, Kominkiewicz began a small Facebook group referred to as “Cheese Toast Love,” then added private mates and on-line acquaintances from native New Jersey meals teams. A number of days later, Kominkiewicz went to his aged father’s home to repair his damaged tv distant (“That is like, the highest panic level,” he mentioned), and some hours later, the group was flooded with 1000’s of latest members, every posting their very own cheese toasts. Now, it was Kominkiewicz’s flip to panic. What had turn into of his high-lactose haven?
    “I think I got a problem,” Kominkiewicz advised his daughter, who posted a video of his response (he didn’t know he was being recorded). “I wonder if there’s like, a cheese toast bot out there. Is someone trying to pull my leg? I mean, how do you go from 250 to 2,000 in a few hours?”
    His daughter fessed up. She had posted about his cheese toast group in widespread Facebook meme group referred to as “Please show to Jim ! ! HA ! ! HA ! !.” In the group, which has greater than 390,000 members, folks publish screenshots of older people utilizing the web in endearing methods, or misusing social media and embarrassing themselves (i.e. posting queries like “why is my stool soft” to Facebook’s standing replace bar as a result of they thought it was Google’s search field.)
    Image Credits: Scott Kominkiewicz
    “He said he saw two groups for [cheese toast] already, but they had less than 70 members a piece,” his daughter wrote. “My dad’s group has reached over 100 members and he is very excited he now has ‘the largest cheese toast group on Facebook.’”
    #ToastAndPost
    Thanks to his daughter’s publish, Kominkiewicz’s group “Cheese Toast Love” has grown to greater than 16,000 members, who #ToastAndPost their tacky creations from the world over. He and his spouse have hosted meetups in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, the place they’ve raffled off toaster ovens, emceed trivia contests in regards to the group’s quick historical past and served up their very own customized cheese toast recipes, just like the Polish Reuben and Pennsylvania Apple Butter.
    “I was consulting with a fellow who’s the admin of NJ Food, another large foodie Facebook group I’ve been a member of for over 10 years, and he was giving me tips for trying to figure out what the hell’s going on,” Kominkiewicz advised TechSwitch over the telephone. “He saw that people were from around the world, not only the U.S., but England, Australia and South Africa, so he posited the theory that there was a South African celebrity who had found my group.”
    Now that Kominkiewicz can belief that these 16,000 folks actually simply wish to speak about cheese toast, he’s targeted on cultivating a optimistic group. The main rule of the group is to be good — all cheese toasts are price celebrating, whether or not they’re made with Kraft singles, connoisseur brie and even vegan cheese on gluten-free bread — however an unofficial, secondary rule is that pizza is just not cheese toast.
    “I love pizza. I’m having pizza for dinner tonight,” Kominkiewicz advised TechSwitch. “The reason is not because I’m anti-pizza, it’s because there’s so many places online for pizza and pizza worship. So if we allow that, it would just be overwhelming.”
    Kominkiewicz first encountered the idea of cheese toast when he was a highschool English trainer, and he assigned his freshman class the story “The Birds” by Daphne Du Maurier. In the story, a household lives in a small, seaside city which is being plagued with more and more terrible chicken assaults — to maintain her household calm, the mom cooks some cheese toast to share.
    “Trying to be an analytical reader, I’m thinking, the bird attacks would scare the hell out of me, so this cheese toast must be pretty good,” he mentioned.

    Kominkiewicz believes a great cheese toast begins out with a ramification, like butter, mayo or bacon grease. Then, you add your cheese and a few toppings, like greens or meat. He thinks tomatoes are an excellent topping, for the reason that shade actually pops in pictures. But the simplicity of cheese on bread — no bells and whistles — has been a boon for some group members, who’ve discovered it a straightforward snack to feed their youngsters, or an accessible, cheap meal to make when cooking feels exhausting.
    A veteran of Facebook’s meals group scene, Kominkiewicz finds sure communities to be too caustic to take pleasure in. In reference to a gaggle about cheesesteaks, he mentioned, “You can put up a picture of the Virgin Mary and they’ll say she’s ugly! They are just brutal!” So in his cheese toast group, he desires to maintain issues as healthful as potential.
    From ‘Weird Facebook’ to cheese toast
    “Cheese Toast Love” is a part of a protracted lineage of “Weird Facebook” teams, which have lengthy reveled in absurdism. Now, customers are gravitating towards the earnestness of Kominkiewicz’s group.
    In the mid-2010s, “Weird Facebook” was a beacon of nonsensical community-building, notably amongst a subset of left-leaning faculty college students, however the reputation of those teams has died down considerably. At their peak, Weird Facebook teams facilitated the collaborative creation of a musical about Jeb Bush, amongst different issues.
    “Weird Facebook was a reaction to how normal the internet was, and Zuckerberg’s idea that Facebook groups were going to be this thing where like, people from your gym are going to get together,” longtime Weird Facebook denizen Ryan Cusick advised TechSwitch. “Instead, we were using them to tag in just the weirdest nightmare shit imaginable.”
    Cusick was concerned in Jeffbook, a subset of Weird Facebook that honored the tons of of unusual teams {that a} forty-something-year-old man named Jeff Conner created. Cusick says these have been principally tag teams — Facebook teams with absurd names (“sounds fake but ok” was a standard one, which has seeped into normal web vernacular). The level of those teams isn’t essentially to publish in them, however reasonably, to tag these teams in feedback in order that you would talk particular concepts in blue hyperlink textual content. So, if somebody posted one thing that felt braggy or exaggerated, you would tag “sounds fake but ok.”
    If Weird Facebook was a response to the normalcy of the web, then the recognition of a gaggle like “Cheese Toast Love” is sort of a signal that now, the web may really feel too absurd.
    “In a world where memes and people’s general attitudes are getting more detached, and surreal, and impersonal, and cold, it’s very nice to have a group where it’s just kindness, and warmth, and food,” mentioned Chase Howell, a moderator for a number of teams on Lemgthbook, a subset of Weird Facebook the place you aren’t allowed to make use of the letter “n” — the joke is that “m” is superior to “n,” as a result of it’s longer (or, “lomger”). “It’s a fuzzy meme we needed,” Howell advised TechSwitch. A number of weeks in the past, she attended a cheese toast meetup in Philadelphia, the place Kominkiewicz gave her a free t-shirt, as a result of she stayed on the meetup the longest out of some dozen folks.
    “I was just having a really good time,” Howell mentioned.
    Now that Kominkiewicz has inadvertently created a honest, tacky respite from the overly ironic web, he’s simply attempting to see how far he can stretch the group whereas staying genuine to its healthful mission. He is promoting merchandise of Toastie, the mascot of the group, on Etsy. Strangely sufficient, even cheese toast was impacted by the Silicon Valley Bank crash, since Etsy needed to delay vendor payouts whereas determining one other banking answer (“Get your tentacles off of my cheese toast!” he mentioned about SVB.)
    He can also be attempting to develop a following on TikTok, however he’s not that severe about chasing clout — in any case, he’s retired with a pension from instructing. He simply desires to have enjoyable spreading the cheese toast love, providing a respite from different meals teams on Facebook the place requirements are excessive, and rigidity is even larger.
    “People are killing themselves with anxiety trying to make a cake!” Kominkiewicz mentioned. “You don’t have that with cheese toast!”

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