Posts Tagged ‘sarcasm’

A bunch of us were drinking in the dorm – we’re graduate students staying on campus for a brief spell in the summer – when some young shiny faces appeared and told us that drinking in the common areas was not allowed.

“But we’re writers and need alcohol,” we said.

“No alcohol in the common areas.  You can drink in your room with the door closed.  Have a great night!” They trotted off, all happy with themselves.

We kept drinking and never saw them again.

Later the same night, two different girls pulled the same crap.  They told us to beat it with the booze and then left the building.  They, too, did not come back.  We’re not even sure they lived in the same building as us.  They were definitely undergrads, maybe on campus for summer orientation, but in general clearly hated having a good time.  Before they left, they made their convictions known to all.  We found this when we grabbed more beer from the fridge:

damned passive aggressive kids these days

A few nights went by, along with several cases of beer.  The spirit police did not bother us.  We turned up the Red Sox game and hollered over Cards Against Humanity.

Disaster struck while I went to the bathroom (not that kind of disaster).  Yet another set of kids scolded us for drinking.  At this point these interruptions moved from being a mild annoyance to a serious social problem.  Who brainwashed these children to the horrors of alcohol?  Their prom must’ve sucked.  But whatever – we had waited these rule-thumpers out and never saw them again, but the stakes changed this time.  I sat down and reached around for my beer.  It was down the drain, the empty in the recycling bin.  I had just cracked the damn thing.

Hostilities continued.  On the last night we were there, some girl with glasses as big as her ego told us to pack it in.

“You need to put this alcohol away.  Now.  While I watch.”

There is nothing quite as embarrassing as being tongue-lashed by an ill-managed superiority complex.  After we were shamed into one of our rooms, holding beers in a confined space, a public safety official came by to remind us – no doubt summoned by the girl who had done her good deed for the day – that no alcohol was to be consumed in the common areas.  Holy crap dude, by now we’ve got it.  But, he said, I just wanted to let you know.

When I log into Facebook, I have a certain expectation of what I am going to see on my newsfeed or who I am going to interact with.  You know, the usual: someone’s mad at so and so, new love is in the digital ether, Bobby Smith thought of something really witty to post and did a favor to everyone by posting it, the Red Sox won, the Red Sox lost.  Recently, that expectation has drunkenly fallen down the stairs.  I have seen more cinnamon roll pancake recipes and tributes to nieces and siblings on Facebook in the past week than poorly written status updates and adorable cat pictures.

It was a rapid change; abrupt enough to jar me out of my mindless morning Facebooking session to think to myself, “what in the blue hell is going on?”  Why am I seeing a pepperoni pizza casserole recipe at 6AM?  Why the hell would I want a pepperoni pizza casserole anyway?  Has pizza become so boring that we need to casserolize it?  Why does everybody suddenly adore every family member, organic or removed, that they’ve ever been related to?  Why am I seeing religious propaganda?  If I want to be told that I’m a Godless heathen, I will go to Downtown Crossing and listen to the Angry Jesus Man for three seconds.  And above all, guns don’t belong on Facebook, because it’s a goddamned website.  You can’t even shoot people there.

So far, I know this: I did not change.  I’ve gotten a few years older, read a few more books, and even shave more often than I used to, but I have not undergone a large enough paradigm shift to warrant noticing drastic sociological changes on Facebook.  On the opposite side of the keyboard, Facebook did not change.  While Facebook does abruptly change the way it appears with either organizational changes or site redesigns, the fundamental identity of Facebook did not change.  It is still the Internet town hall where the world’s masses gather to publicly urinate on each other and swear loudly while others are watching.

That leaves only one culprit: its user base.

The collective we changed.  I truly believe that we are devolving as an intelligent people.  The always on, everyone has a voice culture of Facebook has encouraged anyone and everyone with a working mouth to open it whenever the hell they want to.  If pepperoni pizza casserole is on the mind at 6AM, well, why not just shout it out to the whole world?  Here’s a picture of my dinner.  Here’s what I did for my workout.  Here are the intimate details of my life that previously only me and my mirror knew.  Check out my new abs!  Here are my likes and dislikes;  in fact, you are one of them and I will passive-aggressively let you decide to which list you belong.

Here’s the issue that I have that precious few people understand.  Facebook isn’t an intimate setting like your home living room where you and five of your friends are sitting around shooting the shit.  It’s a public space, like a mall or a stadium, and when you open your mouth a lot of people will be listening whether they want to or not.

To wit: if someone walked up to you while you were shopping for a pair of pants at the mall and handed you a recipe for peanut butter cheesecake scones, you would probably have more than a small problem with it.  The same goes with religious propaganda and the gun debate – while there is a small targeted audience that will receive the message, the larger part of the audience will go around the crazy town crier and into more comfortable spaces.  Such as continuing to scroll until seeing something far more interesting or entertaining.

That isn’t the solution, though, even though it’s what I do now to cope with it: when I see some crazy on my Facebook newsfeed intimately telling me how to prepare goat curd yogurt from expired milk to avoid spending an extra 12 cents at the evil grocery store or why banning 50 round mags is unconstitutional and everyone in Congress should be thrown in jail, I keep scrolling, because I wouldn’t entertain it for even a second in a public space.

Facebook has taught us to become extremely comfortable with telling everyone exactly what is on our minds and in our hearts to the point that normal discourse with fellow human beings has been irreparably affected.  “Did you see on Facebook” has become a standard lead for a sentence.  We should be ashamed of that.  “Did you see on Facebook that Bobby posted a picture of a man in American flag underwear holding an AK-47?”  Currently, human intelligence has no problem processing that thought.  Let’s change the locale: “Did you see at the mall that Bobby was showing people a picture of a man in American flag underwear holding an AK-47?”  Why does it become reprehensible when it occurs in an actual public place as opposed to a “fake” public place?

When Mormons, Unitarians, and Jehovahs come knocking at the door, we run and hide and pretend that we’re not home.  You can’t do that on Facebook because it is the most public place that has ever been invented by man.  Let’s change that by cutting the bullshit.  Let’s go back to posting pictures of our cats waging war on bottle caps and posting our celebrity doppelgangers and posting witty things that will make your fellow man laugh rather than break the last political straw he has left.

tardkids

Tard the Grumpy Cat endorsed this post.

ADDENDUM: Bill Gates is one of the most philanthropic people the world has ever known.  He is not going to give you $500.00 for sharing a picture.  Get a grip.  You’re embarrassing the rest of us.

A couple of winters ago, Domino’s sent me a flyer advertising that they would deliver gooey-hot pizzas in “ALL” snow storms.  What an interesting proposition.  Here I am, gawping lazily out the window, watching snow pile on the sill, unwilling to risk injury or accident on unreliable roads, but for as little as twelve bucks I could force someone else to do it for me.

Boston hasn’t received a major snowstorm since the Halloween Nor’easter of 2011.  That is a pretty significant drought for a city that averages 43” of snowfall per year.  Just months before that, I job-hopped from the retail industry (stays open in the event of snow, the apocalypse, 9/11, etc) to higher education (presidents and trustees get together with a Ouija board to determine whether to close).  I was very excited for nostalgic throwbacks of winters in Maine – snow days – but, an absence of snow compels an absence of snow days.  We did get a day off when Hurricane Sandy blew ashore, but chasing the grill cover down the road and wondering which blast of wind is going to shatter the window just doesn’t compare to watching snow banks rise and cars slide into each other.

Because of the uncooperative mien of Mother Nature, Ill Nino, El Nino, the jet stream, or whatever modern day blame is assigned to the lack of snow, I have yet to test Domino’s claim.  That could change tomorrow with, what, the 102” of snow we’re supposed to get.  The self-serving asshole in me wants to call in the delivery minimum and set an egg timer.  The compassionate retail-scarred wimp wonders why this service is offered to begin with.  There’s always a cutesy news story after every tempest about heroic pizza slingers delivering pies in the drifts three hours after they’ve been ordered and getting a nice tip for their troubles.

How much would the tip have to be to make a run worth it?  This guy seems to think that any tip will do, as long as the thought is there, but his basis of comparison is no tip at all.  Shouldn’t the thought be – I mean really, do we need pizza right now?  How about a can of Chef Boyardee – that’s almost pizza.  Or an English muffin with pasta sauce and a slice of American on top?  If I don’t want to go out, should I make someone else do it?

I don’t think I will test the all-weather delivery.  It seems like an insult to the poor bastard that has to work in those conditions.  Several years ago I opened my store in the midst of a true walloping – a foot on the ground with more on the way.  My car did a front wheel burnout trying to climb the slight grade into the parking lot, and where it stopped is where it parked.  One bushy-tailed customer bought an MP3 player right after the doors opened at 9am.  That lonely sale sat in the till well into the afternoon, and I sat twiddling my thumbs wondering how to excavate my car after it was walled in by the plow.

Nope, I’ll go pizza-less.  In true New England fashion, I stocked the booze cabinet, also known as the spot where I stash the bottle I’m working on.  No snow storm is complete without it.  If I get a raving case of the drunchies, there’s a 24 hour 7/11 next to my house.  I’ll be interested to see if they abandon ship on Friday night when I stumble over for a Slurpee.

Facebook is either very good at connecting human beings and their opinions or very bad at convincing me that I should remain in contact with them.  To wit, I saw this parked on my newsfeed this morning:

Commenting or otherwise arguing in favor of space exploration in this situation is as useful as convincing rabid wolves to become vegetarians.  I’m more concerned about the argument that “$100 billion” can be better spent helping ‘us’ poor people.  Let’s run with that for a minute: the CATO Institute, a liberal think tank full of people that get paid to analyze things from too many angles, estimates that the US spends nearly a trillion dollars a year to fight poverty (includes all spending on both the federal and state levels).  That’s a one with twelve zeroes after it.  Is that number right?  It’s probably close to the truth, but to be safe, let’s give it a generous margin of error of +/- 10%.

The Curiosity program came in at a whopping $2.5 billion (go ahead, ask), which falls insignificantly within our established margin of error, but exactly 97.5% off from the cost suggested in the horribly pixelated JPEG above.

I can Google a bunch of things to come up with numbers that can say whatever I want them to say – the US is sinking under its own debt, poor people are starving, toilet paper consumption is through the roof – but the takeaway is that I took the time (<= 2 min) to Google both the cost of social spending and the cost of the Curiosity program, and whomever created that thumbs-up uninfographic couldn’t be bothered.  I might be less annoyed if the graphic said the same thing, but the number was right and the source was in size 4 font in the bottom left.  That would establish it as an opinion based on fact, but 100 is too nice of a round number to pass up and searching for correct information is too hard.  I’d be willing to bet that the person who created that picture, and the people who pass it on, aren’t aware that there are folks in other countries who cannot find information that they are looking for.

That brings me back to ‘us’ poor people, who repost things using the computer they bought with the internet they paid for under the roof they rent or own.  It’s a tough life to sit around all day and identify with poor resolution JPEGs that attempt to broadly define all that ails you.

Suppose for a moment that the skies open up and legions of alien ships land in parking lots and city parks, completing their decades-long trip to planet Earth.  The assumed leader of this humanoid hoard steps out for an immediate audience.  As luck would have it, you have a front row seat, and he speaks flawless English.

“HUMANKIND!  WE HAIL FROM AN AREA IN SPACE THAT YOU DESIGNATE AS THE GLIESE 445 SYSTEM.”  The words are amplified without a source.  Most of whom he addresses run away, but you stand your ground, because I have written it so.

“WE HAVE RECEIVED YOUR INTERSTELLAR MIX-TAPE.”

While your interest is piqued at this marvelous revelation, you can’t help but notice armed brigades of aliens pouring out of the bellies of their featherless birds.

“AFTER LISTENING TO ‘JOHNNY B. GOODE,’ WE IMMEDIATELY SET OFF FOR YOUR PLANET TO PAY TRIBUTE TO YOUR HUMAN GOD, CHUCK BERRY.”

How nice, you think.  In the back of your mind, you question whether or not Chuck Berry is still alive; the answer is yes.

“AS WE NEARED YOUR PLANET, WE RECEIVED YOUR RADIO TRANSMISSIONS.  EVERY RADIO SIGNAL CARRIED THE SAME DATA.”

Beams of light shoot into the sky, projecting an image onto a passing cloud.  As the signal increases in clarity and substance, you recoil in horror.  It is too late.


“CHUCK BERRY WOULD BE DISPLEASED.”

You start running.  Anywhere.  But the sound is all around you and so are the Glieseians.  Your soul is lost and has been for some time; life is an unsatisfying series of ‘Call Me Maybe’ references and Internet memes.  The alien’s booming voice floats a step behind you.  You refocus to hear what he is saying.

“…BUT HERE’S MY BURN RAY, SO DIE NOW MAYBE.”

Just before you feel the lining of your lungs blister and peel away, an image floats through your mind.