7 Quick Takes about isolation, Chardonnaydo, and the creepiness of Furbies (vol. 232)
I’m getting a late start writing this because I’ve been sucked in by all the great comments to the Facebook post. If I had to summarize the responses, which would be a daunting task since such a wide range of strong (very strong!) opinions were represented, I would say that the consensus was this:
Don’t get an account unless you think you really need one. If you do, you can make it work as long as you’re careful about whom you connect with.
That last part is the problem. This undoubtedly goes back to unresolved feelings about my less-than-lovely junior high experience, but there’s no way I could be strict about my friends list. I am extremely sensitive about not making other people feel left out. I’m sure I’ve done it by accident occasionally, but I would never intentionally make someone feel like they’re not part of any group, even if it were a stupid group that no one cares about like my Facebook friends list.
I mean, I’d say that I’d limit it to “real friends only!”, but then someone would contact me saying, “I read a post of yours back in 2008. I didn’t like it. But your name sounds familiar. So let’s be friends on Facebook.” And I’d be like, Friend! And then, from what I understand, it would be a matter of hours until my Facebook feed began to ruin my life. So…maybe this won’t work after all.
(I’m not saying it’s wrong that other people limit their friends lists; I’m saying that I think I’m probably too crazy to have a personal Facebook account.)
Jenny left a comment yesterday that I keep thinking about. She was talking about her experience getting off of Facebook, but I think it applies to anyone who’s ever online at all. She wrote:
Just the other day I was talking with a friend and I told her to look up whomever’s feast day it was and give that saint an extra shout out for prayers answered and…it was Bl. Mother Teresa. How cool! And I hadn’t already read 4 quotes from [Mother Teresa], seen 6 memes featuring her image, or visually glutted myself on factoids from her exemplary life. I can’t explain how cool it was to organically ‘discover’ the knowledge for myself instead of passively and automatically ingesting it (and therefore not really processing it) when I logged in every morning. And mid morning. And late mid morning. And lunchtime. And…well, you get the picture.
There is a wealth of food for thought in this concept of “passively and automatically ingesting information (and therefore not really processing it).” It’s something that happens all the time when you’re online, whether or not you’re on Facebook — and, to Jenny’s point, I think that important concepts and event can become just more clutter in our already-overcluttered brains when we’re bombarded with 15 memes about them before we’ve even had our coffee.
Someone please go write a brilliant and insightful blog post that unpacks this issue. Thanks.
Why didn’t someone tell me how totally creepy Furbies are? I got my seven-year-old daughter one for her birthday, and that thing is constantly freaking me out. It frequently changes personalities, and one of them is this evil-sounding gremlin voice that rattles off a bunch of gibberish the way dolls always do in movies before they come to life and start stabbing people.
Last night I went to check on my daughter after she was asleep, and the stupid Furby was chattering away next to her head. There is no way to turn these things off, so I threw it in the downstairs bathroom to get it away from everyone. I forgot that it was there, and an hour later I almost had a heart attack when I opened the door to see this:
After I regained the ability to breathe, I thought about leaving it there since I did not have the energy to be dealing with bad behavior from toys. But then I remembered that my eight-year-old son sometimes comes downstairs at night to get a book he forgot or a drink of water. I imagined him wandering downstairs through the darkened house, and pausing as he notices a faint glow coming from beneath the closed bathroom door. He approaches with great trepidation, and just as he draws near, a burst of evil gremlin chatter erupts from inside.
Yeah. Since I do not have the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be required for his intensive psychotherapy after that moment, I threw it in the trunk of the car.
Somehow Sharknado came up the last time Joe and I were out on a date night. At first Joe showed no interest in the subject, since he said that the only way this could be awesome were if I were talking about a movie that features a tornado made of sharks, and obviously it couldn’t be that, so he would only be setting himself up for disappointment if we continued this conversation. When I told him that there was indeed a movie of this caliber — and that not only was the tornado made of sharks, but people used chainsaws to fight it — I think Joe was afraid to hope it could be true.
I pulled up the Youtube trailer on my phone (which I’m sure all the other patrons at El Monumento really appreciated), and for a moment, he was quiet with wonder. Then, after he’d had a while to meditate on what he’d just beheld as he sipped his wine, he said that someone needs to make a sequel called Chardonnaydo.
I’ve been thinking about that ever since, and I want to assure you of this:
It is only because I’m in a crazy season of life that I am not taking that comment as a call to action. I give you my solemn promise that if I had the time or the resources, there would be a Youtube video posted under my account by the end of a week with a short movie about a tornado made of Chardonnay. The trailer would feature a scene where a rugged-looking man looks to the horizon, sees the Chardonnaydo coming, and says in a grave, gravely voice, “We’re going to have to drink it.”
Do not tell me this is a bad idea. I am a producer, after all.
I recently read The Fault in Our Stars, which was as powerful and moving as the 4,000 Amazon reviewers said it was (and did not strike me as a Young Adult book, for the record — it felt more like an adult book that happened to be about teenagers). I kind of tear up any time I think about it, actually.
Anyway, I looked up an interview with the author, John Green, and I love what he had to say about writing and the unspoken writer/reader contract:
I think the writer’s responsibility is to tell an honest story (which is also, I would argue, definitionally a hopeful story) and to make it as a gift to the reader. The reader violates the contract when s/he reads poorly or distractedly or ungenerously. (It seems to me that mutual generosity is kind of the key to the reader-writer relationship. We are basically trying to give each other a gift, but it doesn’t work unless both of us are really trying.)
If you’re a writer or a big fiction fan, the whole Q&A is worth skimming. Lots of great thoughts there. (But skim it after you’ve read the book, as it contains major spoilers.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues of isolation and the unique pressures of modern life lately, and while I was praying the other day I was suddenly inspired with this idea for how Joe and I might one day be able to help families who don’t have their own village. I’m sure this was directly from God, since it’s a really cool vision:
I have four daughters, and they all love helping with young children. One day, when they’re older, I’d love to host an occasional free babysitting night, where we put the word out to friends that they’re welcome to drop their kids off at our house and have an evening to themselves, free of charge. We’d probably have to limit it to a couple of families at a time since so many people we know have lots of kids, but we could hammer out the details at the time. Isn’t that a cool idea?
Do me a favor. If you ever find a 106-year-old message in a bottle during a walk on the beach, PLEASE OPEN IT.