“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” ~ Steven Wright From the Archives: Killing Envy Comparison Is the Thief of Joy
There are many peculiar and interesting species of cell phone user for one to discover and observe in the civilized wild. Here are some you may encounter in your travels. (Please approach them with caution, as some startle easily.) Manibus … Continue reading
Every once in a while I wish I could see what is really going on in my upstairs neighbor’s apartment. He is an intriguing mystery. Like most of the people who live in my building, he has a vaguely familiar … Continue reading
This is Dick C. O’Neary reporting to you live from LexiCon—the national word convention. Wordsmiths, word enthusiasts, and terminologists from all over the country have gathered here to immerse themselves in all manner of vocabulary-building activities and language competitions, to … Continue reading
I still have the first teddy bear my parents ever gave me. His name is Corduroy. He’s the only tangible thing I’ve had for my entire life. Corduroy used to have a lot of stuffed animal friends. They were my … Continue reading
The more time I spend online, the more I find myself less and less willing to believe things. There is so much misinformation being spread around—innocently and intentionally. Is that image genuine, or was it digitally altered? Is that reality in progress, or are those people performing? So much of what is presented as candid is actually choreographed. So much of what is reported as news is a distorted or exaggerated truth—or completely fictional.
I don’t want to be naïve, but I also don’t want to be an impermeable wall. I don’t like being overly skeptical. I want to be moved by heartwarming stories without wondering if someone is trying to manipulate me. I want to be impressed by feats of kindness, strength, or intelligence without worrying that it’s all an illusion staged to deceive.
If I’m not skeptical, then I’m annoyed. To get through my Facebook news feed I must regularly wade through mass marketing muck that reeks of spam. My experience with social media is that it’s becoming decreasingly social. So much of it now is derivative or vaguely commercial. I miss the days when Facebook felt more personal than viral. I joined for an online connection to real people, not corporate advertisements, shallow trends, or pseudo-news.
I’d like to see more insights into the minds and lives of the people I know instead of more memes or some stranger’s mildly amusing video. I want to see you, your loved ones, and your vacations, celebrations, and milestones. I’m not trudging through any “upload all” image dumps, but I’d love to see a carefully curated selection of photos. I’d rather read what’s really on your mind than see another shared article (unless it really changed your life, really made you think/laugh/cry, or is in some way genuinely special). And if you are quoting someone else’s words (even if just by way of introduction), please remember to give the author credit or at least use quotation marks. If another person wrote them, they shouldn’t look like your words.
If I’m not skeptical or annoyed, then I’m shrouded in apathy. My Facebook feed is full of emphatic entreaties. Watch this video; it will make you laugh or cry. Read this article; it will fill you with ire. Look at these pictures; isn’t the world beautiful/crazy/cruel? Visit this website; this is stuff you absolutely need to know. Basically what they all boil down to is the following: You must click here; it’s very, very important! And more often than not, no it isn’t.
I do it too. I admit it. I regularly link to this very blog hoping my Facebook friends will read it. And I’d love to go viral. I’m that kind of hypocrite. It’s the imperatives, not the invitations, that I mind the most. Especially distasteful to me are the ones with a manipulative approach. Make this your profile picture if you’re a decent human being. Change your status update to the text below if you don’t want to appear uncaring. Join my cause or my rant unless you’re an uninformed fool. I have all the facts, so you should think and feel the way I do. It all reminds me of those chain letters that used to be popular when I was a kid. I’ve never been one to do something just because others are doing it. And if it starts to smell like peer pressure, then I get even more stubbornly resistant.
I don’t come to Facebook to bait, debate, or attack. I like to keep my social media friendlier than that. I can’t—I don’t want to—keep up with all the viral items and trends. And viral is a good word them, because they’ve begun to feel like diseases infecting my time—little digital pathogens of acute procrastination. With so many of them clamoring for more and more of my attention, I feel compelled to defend myself and ignore them. Apathy is my vaccine—a means a self-protection.
I’m not anti social media. It has benevolent qualities too. I just prefer to keep my social media civil, less viral, and more personal. Facebook isn’t perfect, and it isn’t entirely bad. It gives me cause to complain. It regularly compels me to rant. I’ve even considered quitting in the past—and I’m sure I’ll consider it again in the future. But right now the good (even if only marginally) outweighs the bad. It’s still an opportunity to catch up on the thoughts and lives of my friends. And sometimes I’m even in the mood to see that viral video of _______ [fill in the blank].
My eyes are heavy; my brain is tapped.
It’s a struggle to stay awake.
I really need a nap.
I’m trying to listen, watch, or read.
But every part of my being would rather be asleep.
Nothing is interesting enough to keep me alert.
Every blink threatens to be semi-permanent.
The couch is a trap.
The bed means certain defeat.
Resistance is vanity.
Eventually I’ll concede.
The hands of slumber are massaging my mind.
The dominion of dreams is beckoning me inside.
I’m so tired.
Every thought that I start floats off incomplete.
Sleep will conquer and release me to z’s.
Every year pet food looks more and more like human food. The packaging is becoming more similar and so are the contents. There’s a variety of cat food with broth that (at least in the commercial I saw) looks a lot like a bowl of soup a human being might consume. I can buy canned cat food with a lid that removes itself, even though I enjoy no such luxury when I buy canned tuna for myself.
I understand the impulse to make pet food look less disgusting. This way the people feeding the animals aren’t nauseated by the task. But there are a few products I take issue with. They don’t just make snacks for dogs and cats; they make appetizers too. Appetizers! I’m just waiting for the day when I’ll be expected to cook for my pets or offer them a beverage other than water. I suspect energy drinks for dogs are just around the corner.
Didn’t we all finally agree that the cat with a bowl of milk cliché has lived all of its nine lives? Isn’t it now widely known and accepted that cats are lactose intolerant? Then why is one brand of cat food making a cheddar cheese variety? Whose cat goes crazy for cheese? My husband once had a cat that loved cantaloupe, so I suppose anything is possible, but I’m skeptical of the notion that cats are clamoring for cheese.
What I think is happening here is that pet food companies are trying to appeal to human tastes. They know that we have so anthropomorphized our animals that we’ll readily assume they want what we want or need what we need. Never mind that cats are lactose intolerant. People love cheese, so let’s put it in cat food! Some humans are trying to be healthy. Let’s get them feeling guilty about not feeding their dogs enough vegetables (even though their wild and ancestral counterparts aren’t rooting around for carrots and peas). Fluffy and Fido should also have organic options. And let’s have low calorie offerings, because if the people are dieting, then their animals must be.
If our pets are fat, we’re to blame. Why are perfectly healthy dogs riding around in strollers? Who decided these dogs needed or wanted to be pushed around? Just because the thought of walking down the block is enough to leave some people feeling pre-exhausted, doesn’t mean their canine companions can’t handle it. I’m confident that even the smallest of dogs can out-walk the average human on any ordinary outing. If a three-legged dog can run and fetch and keep up with her four-legged friends, then Lord Furrybottom can make it to the grocery store on his own steam.
So please remove your healthy dog from the stroller, baby carrier, or whatever other contraption we used to reserve for human infants and let your dog be a dog like a dog is supposed to be—paws on the ground, nose sniffing some other dog’s butt, marking territory, and loving you unconditionally.
Look both ways before you cross the street. Having the right of way won’t stop someone from running into you.
Don’t spend too much time worrying about the potential plagues and pains of the future—most of them will never happen.
Games aren’t just for children. Never pass up an opportunity to play.
This is also true for naps. (You’re never too old to benefit from one.)
When someone isn’t nice to you, assume they’re having a bad day and be extra kind.
Don’t postpone happiness or prolong regrets. Life is too short for that.
Laugh, smile, and engage in general silliness as often as you can.
If you want to cry, then cry.
Eat your fruits and vegetables.
Don’t be afraid to walk away when you should. It helps if you’re comfortable in your own shoes.
On a regular basis, let go of your worries, regrets, and grudges. It is unhealthy (and counterproductive) to hoard them.
Keep your dreams well fed.
If you’ve got to pee and your only option is a gross, smelly, dirty bathroom, just go. Otherwise you might suffer twice: first by holding it for longer than you should, and then by eventually having to use the dirty bathroom anyway.
Don’t limit yourself to only doing what you’re good at.
Make time for those you love.
Don’t make a habit of staying up past your bedtime. It’s easier to have a good day when you aren’t sleep-deprived.
Talk less than you listen.
The world needs you; don’t try to be someone else.
Do your best and be satisfied. Your best is the best you can do.
Don’t be a dead end to kindness and generosity—pass them on.
Try new things.
Eat new foods.
Don’t put cold water in a hot glass container.
If you’re going to tattoo someone else’s name on your body, be very, very sure.
Don’t talk with food in your mouth. Fewer people than you think want to hear what you have to say if it means also having to see your masticated food.
On a similar note, don’t chew with your mouth open—unless you have a cold and can’t breathe through your nose.
I love New York, but sometimes I’d like to wear flip-flops outside without having to disinfect my feet afterward. I love New York, but earlier this summer I saw a giant cockroach climbing up the outside of our bedroom window … Continue reading