I was watching a phenomenal documentary on the manufacturing and consumption of hotdogs when I had a mild epiphany. With the help of others, we’ve built cookie cutter personas for ourselves and allowed even the most interesting of us to become boring and vapid. Documenting every insignificant detail of our lives makes us all seem terrifyingly redundant. For whatever reason, my generation has decided to forego causes or movements and proclaim absolutely nothing as loudly and boldly as it dares. I am occasionally taken form my apathy and manipulated into thinking that the whole object of life is to seek beauty and encourage its development. I know we aren’t all supremely uninteresting and self absorbed, I know many wonderful people capable of marvelous deeds.
Then things go back to normal as I fall back in with the rest of the herd. I suppose that rose colored glasses don’t always fit and, to me, the past seems as ridiculous as any hypothetical future that I could imagine. History is more easily digested as a novelty but I have a bad habit of being sucked into a time and a place. Perhaps this is why I am a storyteller and not a poet or novelist. For years I have scribbled down anything that felt worthy of remembering, or sharing, and placed these little scraps of importance into a yellow box. My pockets are always full of jokes, stories, drawings and spells. They are me as much as anything else ever could be and I wish people would choose to share things of that nature with me instead of what television program they are enjoying or how much they love that it’s Friday again.
Here is a piece of personal history, an expanded scrap from years ago. I hope it will be of some marginal consequence to some of you.
As I pass through the industrial heart of a worn and broken city I am sullenly drunk on my memories. They press heavily on my chest and cut sharp against the back of my brainstem. Under-lit by orange and platinum electronic light, I wrestle with ugly thoughts and mourn past joys as massive black stacks shove flame and smoke into the night sky above me. I feel like a criminal and, like most criminals, I proclaimed reformation and begged forgiveness. My transgressions, intensely personal, were committed against those I have loved and promised to protect. I cannot punish myself enough to satisfy my guilt or remove the stains upon my mind left by my own record. I have intentionally suffered in order to be deemed worthy of absolution.
But a cry for mercy is a proclamation of weakness and I am not weak as I was before. I do not beg for pity, I ask for the attention to detail an artisan would give their finest works. I request the sort of understanding that I have so effectively avoided for the majority of my life and have rarely received as a result. I wish to be far away from this misery and I want to take the best of people with me as more than just a memory. I was fabulously mistaken to think that suffering would ever earn me clemency. Sometimes iniquity is a fabrication by the dull and dreary to condemn that which they find alluring but dangerous. I may be a little corrupt and even treacherous, but I am vastly enthralling. I know better than most that the most attractive things in life are also the most vexing.
I leave a bar, annoyed and half-full of drink. An hour earlier, I was hearing awful things from some people that I normally respect and many that I never could. Tales of romantic woe, general stupidity and oneupsmanship seemed to be the theme for the night. I have absolutely no desire to listen for another second of someone telling me the intimate details of their life that they’ve deem unique or important. I never requested a dissertation on the banal minutia of a life that I’ve never once cared about. I want a conversation about philosophy, art, anthropology, ethics or politics. I am tired of seeing people force a swagger and spout ignorance and monotony. I should never have to see another guy in a white baseball cap tell his friends all about the woman that he spent the night with or hear the drunken bragging of a full-grown child on her twenty-first birthday.
Outside, the night air is cool and my chest hurts. A coughing fit begins and hold a hand to my mouth as a meaningless courtesy to the drunks. I check my palm for blood and find none on this particular occasion, so I go for a stroll while my body absorbs some ethanol. There is a little relief before more pain returns to my trunk and I feel compelled to clutch my ribs as I walk back to my motorcycle. I bump into an old acquaintance well before I get there. She stops me in the middle of the street and asks me where I am going and compliments me on my hair. I imagine a truck hitting us.
Some schlub that vaguely resembles Fred Mertz approaches us and engages her in conversation; I use the opportunity to make my escape. As I continue my walk, I look through the scraps of paper in my pockets. They are covered with the notes I’ve written over the past week. I crumple up half of them and toss them into the trash; they were ideas not worth pursuing and thoughts not worth expressing. They seemed pretty good at the time though. I think a lot of things are like that. Maybe they’ll be good again, someday.
But I guess that doesn’t make for a tidy and concise status update. Let me see if I can work it into something simple and easy to digest. “Today was a weird day.”
For my more humorous takes on technology and the communications gap, please enjoy my next post or read An Unusual Flattering Remark on my Posterior (nice and short about twitter), Technology and the Ruination of Humanity, The Remedy to Small Talk: Experimental Communication and Getting Weird or Being Right, Finding Yourself and Other Things that Don’t Matter Much.
That looks like a screenshot of my facebook page xD….
I think that looks like a screenshot from anyone’s page.
I have to admit that I don’t care who’s having sardines tonight with their fresh green salad either.
But were it not for the political friends I have at Facebook I’d have missed a lot of what’s going down in Wisconsin (and now, Michigan?).
Bring on more of the cat diary lady, the puppies, and the ugly babies, Posky. But leave our FB alone (until it gets fucked with again by its own proprietor, wink wink).
Facebook is a great thing, but I have to wonder what makes a person so bored that they need to express that they are having sardines to the world. There is more going on here than just what’s on the surface, something is causing these trends.
It’s not boredom that makes people post these ridiculous updates, it’s loneliness. I’m pretty sure. People are starved for attention, with so many gadgets for entertainment, ipods, ipads, iphones, tv, internet, Snookie, people are not getting the attention they need. Instead of interpersonal interaction, people occupy their time with frivolity.
That seems terribly accurate. We have this amazing tool to communicate effectively with each other and we always seem to waste it.
But we can’t blame the technology for that, we have to blame the people.
“…in hopes to make a legitimate connection with another person.” Hope is beautiful isn’t it. I feel a bit like i imagine the angel Gabriel must have felt, when delivering a message – but your hope has been attained. :)
I feel like our generation is too jaded to have a cause, other than trying to put our degrees/masters to use and put a roof over our heads.
For better, or worse, you may be right.
I’d like to expand my focus at least a little, though.
fb is just another bit of technology that expresses cultural facts. in the us (and other “western” nations) it’s largely masturbatory, sadly. but look at egypt and tunisia.
“I crumple up half of them and toss them into the trash; they were ideas not worth pursuing and thoughts not worth expressing. ”
this made me think of mitch hedberg.
“man, doing comedy is hard work. like, i spend all my time in my hotel room trying to come up with jokes; when they’re funny i write them down. but sometimes the pen and paper is on the other side of the room, so i have to convince myself that what i came up with really wasn’t that funny.”
I like that he made, what may have been, a very sad subject humorous. He was a great comedian, writer and light philosopher.
I really liked this.
I suppose it helps that I feel the same way about Facebook. I stopped going there about a year ago. It was turning my brain into sawdust. Too much detail that I never wanted to know.
Facebook: never before have so many said so much about nothing to no one.
Can’t take credit for the quote. I read it somewhere, but it is exactly how I feel.
Very good post. I love it!
Thanks. I’m still pretty sure that there are worthwhile things occurring on facebook but you have to be willing to explore and dig.
Great post. And this is why I am no longer on Facebook.
I’ve often wondered if the mundane, everyday posts make us all feel somehow “normal” because it’s things that everyone else is doing. Maybe reminds us we aren’t floating out there alone. That being said, I know I’ve probably bored people with my posts about my day-to-day monotony. I try very hard to talk about my passions (i.e. – food) and take it easy with the boring stuff.
But, being an only child, I do feel starved for attention from time-to-time and have to act like a bratty teen, crying out for people to care that my 18 month-old stole the cat’s mouse again. *g*
It’s good to remind myself that these are real people expressing real things. It just makes me worry that everyone is really lonely and this is how they reach out. It seems that we all want to remember that we are a part of society that we regularly want nothing to do with.
Hello- interesting perspective you have. And life is all about perspective.
I like detail. Like the colour of lichen, and how it grows on the trunk of a tree – not the minute details so and sos personal life….
That fungal alge? The tree in the front yard of my childhood home had a side that was covered in it, I used to eat it sometimes. Now, I find myself looking for it in the woods for reasons I can’t understand.
I never would have noticed if you hadn’t said something, but it does have a pretty color.
Lichen only ever grows on the south side of trees. Go and check.
Wonderful perspective, Posky.
Especially: I want a conversation about philosophy, art, anthropology, ethics or politics. I am tired of seeing people force a swagger and spout ignorance and monotony.
I’m with you! So much information shared on FB is nothing but a waste of time.
We’re all dumb and struggling to be better, why can’t we muster through it together and have a dialogue?
Lovely post ~ enjoyed your honesty. Sadly, I think my generation is not doing much better, and the FB posts are just as shallow. As I read your intro (after FB toon) this ran through my head, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Gandhi Your FB “friends” may roll their eyes, but every so often, post something that matters to you…perhaps you’ll open a dialogue. ~ peace, angela
I was under the impression that you and I were around the same age and that people are (mostly) the same, regardless of age.
hmm..almost to that fourth decade..oi! Interesting POV on people being mostly the same regardless of age, not sure. Btw, hope you keep up the introspective posts from time to time, still has me thinking as I log onto FB ;)
Your photo is misleading then. You look younger.
I have a lot of friends from several generations and most of them want the same things. Older people allow themselves to find comfort in repetition while younger people are still scrambling to achieve specific goals- they’re both too quick to judge, too unwilling to listen and desperately want to matter.
Loved the content of your scrap of paper. I used to do the same thing. Found a bunch of them a few months ago. To my shock, most of them expressed a deep longing to just get over my fears and try to write a book. It’s hard to believe I’ve wanted to do that for so long, and didn’t.
I hope you treasure those scraps. I too like the racist duck, but stuff like this helps me grow back a little lost part of my soul. Hope you’ll post more scraps in the future.
As for Facebook…I go back and forth. I’ve gotten really sick of it lately, imagining some updates in chirpy voices (“I ate this” and “My baby’s so cute”-type updates) and others in screaming banshee voices (politics and complaining massively about minor inconveniences). Then I want to unfriend everyone who writes “lol” on anything. Then I wonder how stupid my own updates sound, and if my online friends tolerate me rather than genuinely like me. Then I decide I’m not reading Facebook for a while. (That last one never sticks.) Then, as if by magic, someone I really like writes something to me that makes me smile. That makes it all worthwhile.
So Funny! I love it…..but it is sad and true. :-)
We’re only boring and vapid when we say too much. Which seems to be exactly the dilemma with most people and social media.
I find myself wondering why some people use FB, Twitter, etc. in moderation, and others cannot. Just one more addiction, with the added appeal of apparent connection?
I think you’re being too hard on people, Posky. My personal philosophy is that we all really crave to make connections and place our stamps on the world and do something important, but some of us don’t exactly know how to do that. Or we need to fit in. Or we don’t have the courage. But I’ll bet if you catch anyone at the right moment–even the jerk in the white baseball cap–who they are will take your breath away.
I am regularly impressed by people, but that was the sort of night where I couldn’t be bothered with optimism.
Oh My God..why would anyone want to be bothered by optimism……………
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I’ve only recently joined Facebook, after a friend of mine nagged me into submission. Now I’ve got old school mates messaging me left, right and centre, wanting to meet up again. What the hell is going on? I came on to the internet to be anonymous and to enjoy the depths of sleaze that goes with that, and now that dream is over! Heed my warning, those few of you that have not yet surcummed to social networking – DON’T DO IT! CHERISH YOUR ANONYMITY AND THE COMPLETE NEGATION OF HUMANITY IT ALLOWS!
And in case anyone asks why I can’t simply remain on Facebook and lead an anonymous internet life outside of it, how do you know that haven’t secretly installed keylogging software on my computer? Huh? Answer me that!
That actually happened to me once. You don’t know until someone hacks into your email.
Ha! Spot-on for the “pokes.” I freaking hate those things. I really don’t understand their purpose. Guys poking other guys? Not so much. Girls poking other girls….ditto. Useless and annoying.
“I may be a little corrupt and even treacherous, but I am vastly enthralling.”…a great description of self.
I must confess that these days I only use Facebook for my blog updates, my photography group and occasional meaningful interaction with family members I like. Other than that, I only use it to play Farmville…my brainless activity of choice for when I need a break!
I’m not on Twitter (or I think I might have an account but have never used it), coz that just gets scarier…word limits and instant philosophy…how is that enriching? If you have something worth saying shouldn’t it be worth taking the time to say it properly, say it well? Call me old-fashioned…I don’t give a damn!
I agree. I just started using twitter and there is a lot about it that I don’t like- but enough people asked me to start using it as a way to update them on my doings and bloggings, so I’ve been trying.
I guess we’ll see how that plays out.
I wish you were wrong.
I wish you were right.
Wait. Is your mind more blown or is mine?