Sunday, May 29, 2011


Mister Rogers by glindsay65
Mister Rogers, a photo by glindsay65 on Flickr.
There other day, I was approached by a friend who let me know that she was giving up on Facebook. The reason? She felt that reading other people's posts, looking at pictures on other people's walls, made her feel like she was missing out on something. You’re home alone but watching your friends' status updates tell of a great party happening somewhere else. You are aware of more parties than ever before and like gym memberships, adding Bergman movies to your Netflix queue and piling up unread copies of the New Yorker, watching these feeds gives you a sense that you’re not participating and missing out on something.
The feeling she was experiencing has a name and it is FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and many critics of the inter-web believe it will ultimately be the undoing of most social media. But my question is this: hasn't it always been thus? Doesn't this ring of hand-wringing of both the personal and the cultural variety?
Radar equipment companies sell radar equipment to the police as well as to the general public. Clorox is one of the world’s worst polluters of water but they also own Brita who make filters to get the bad stuff out of the water again. Lawyers create mazes that you have to hire a lawyer to escape. Facebook and Twitter create FOMO and also cure it.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Despite the occasional sense that everyone is popping bottles of champagne on city rooftops while I watch Modern Family reruns in my yoga pants, I still love participating in social media. And, believe it or not, seeing what I’m “missing” has shaped how I decide to spend my time. It has reminded me to fill my life with stuff that makes me feel like there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. If I feel like I’m missing out, I see it as a flag that I’m unhappy about something else, an indicator that I need to invest some time in finding my own fun, or a reminder to stay in the moment — even if the moment is just enjoying my friend's photos photos on Facebook!
There can be true meaning in social media—real connections, real friendships, devotion, humor, sacrifice, joy, depth, love. And filling your life with a sense of constant craving and desire (also called defilement, affliction) will make you feel like a slave. Is what we are looking for when we log on? No. What we are looking for is connection and you can find it on the interweb is you look in the right places. It's in the earnest posts of friends who've lost loved ones, in the pictures of their dogs dressed up like movie stars and the heartfelt bragging of their children's accomplishments. It is even in this speech that I found of Mr. Rogers accepting an Emmy. Read this and ask me if the interweb can be so bad when there is this type of stuff to be found on it:

mister rogers went onstage to accept a lifetime acheivement award — and there, in front of all the soap opera stars and talk show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, "all of us have special ones who have loved us into being. would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. ten seconds of silence."

and then he lifted his wrist, looked at the audience, looked at his watch, and said, "i'll watch the time." there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn't kidding, that mister rogers was not some convenient eunuch, but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked. and so they did. one second, two seconds, seven seconds — and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier. and mister rogers finally looked up from his watch and said softly "may god be with you," to all his vanquished children.

Monday, May 16, 2011

First Time Last

The Wilrik by Donald Lee Pardue
The Wilrik, a photo by Donald Lee Pardue on Flickr.

The other night I was laying in bed coasting through the channels when I happened upon the film, Requiem for a Dream. My husband is a huge fan of its director -Darren Aronofsky- and he and I had watched it together several years ago. I vividly remember sitting through the entire thing and turning to my husband immediately afterwards and telling him - nay, pronouncing! - with all sincerity, that I was never going to watch that film again. Ever.

For those of you unfamiliar with the film when it was released, Requiem For A Dream was about a lot of things: addiction, exploitation, destitution, loneliness, institutional corruption, the toxins of the media and our get-rich-quick culture, the false promises of the American Dream. Mainly, though, it was about visceral experience and Aronofsky provoked the audience in a visual way to feel these themes with the characters rather than have us sit back comfortably as the characters slowly circled the drain. That's why when Ellen Burstyn's character started to buzz out on pain pills, you started to feel like you were doing the same. When her drug addicted son (Jared Leto) started riding the heroin train, you felt like you were too. Fun times, huh? It was as powerful an anti-drug movie as I had ever seen and probably ever will since. And guess what I learned? I didn't like feeling like a crackhead and never wanted to be in a place where I had to turn tricks to get a fix. Lesson learned, Mr. Aronofsky. Success!

There are definitely films that I will love and cherish forever but there are also those that handily fit into the category described above: first time last. Sometimes, however, I would like to meld the two. I have decided that the best way for this to happen would be to receive the full Lacuna Inc. treatment —that's when a total stranger could with the touch of a "forgetting pen device" wipe away the memory of having seen a certain movie. Then I'd watch Hitchcock’s Psycho again for the first time. And Rushmore. And all of the Godfather movies. I just want a chance to spend an evening getting really invested in the Corleone family. Or watch Bill Murray sink to the bottom of that pool in the middle of his twin's birthday party and feel my heart break. Or watch Janet Leigh and wonder just what she is going to do with all that money. And when she meets Anthony Perkins, I want to sit through that whole awkward, kind of sweet conversation they have over sandwiches without knowing that the wig Norman’s about to put on his head is made of human hair, and not know just where he might have plucked that hair from…

Wouldn't that be nice?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Done, Dammit!

Here's a little something I've been crapping out for the past two years. I finished it yesterday. I had been thinking about it for several years before I started it. Started it. Stopped it. Loved it.Hated it. Been indifferent to it. Now it's done and I feel.....weird.

I'm sure I'll get over it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Feeling....Groovy? Not So Much.

Nothing makes you feel like you are 100 years old like the following:

1) Falling asleep in front of the television at 9:30 PM. On a Saturday. Before your eight year-old does.

2) Buying a bottle of Crown Royal. For the bag.

3) Complaining to your kids about the size of the speed bumps in a traffic calming zone.

4) Using the word "Cripes". Or "Trousers". Or "Groovy", for that matter.

5) When your body wants exercise but your brain says stay home and read the paper.

6) When you buy something with the Heart Smart label at the supermarket and it gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling.

7) When you consider walking and talking multi-tasking.

8) You get teary listening to the national anthem.

9) You are using a duvet in May 'cause it's chilly in here, don't you find?

Anything to add, intraweb?