July 19, 2010

Why I Left Facebook

Molly Schoemann, New York.

Because every damn time I signed on to Facebook my feed went like this:

[Girl you found distasteful in high school]: Has posted pictures from her wedding!

Click here to view her photos, while wondering if perhaps you misjudged her back in the day. Find photos distasteful, even for wedding photos. Feel slightly depressed, if also vindicated.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is home from work!

[Guy you had several ill-advised hookups with three years ago]: Has compared you to his other friends!

Click here if you find this somehow enraging. Click around some more trying to figure out whom you have been compared with, but give up after a few minutes. Feel somehow violated.

[Girl you know through an ex-boyfriend]: Is a fan of “Bill Withers”.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is cooking dinner!

[Girl you were good friends with in 7th grade and haven't talked to since then]: Has sent you a friend request!

Click here to accept her request with enthusiasm. Click here to send a message to this girl, summarizing what you have been up to for the last fifteen years, and asking what she is up to in return. Wait weeks, but never receive a response. Wonder why you even bothered. Feel slightly irritated every time you notice that she is constantly on Facebook.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Hates morning commutes!

[Ex Boyfriend you are no longer in touch with]: Has left a comment on the photo of [some girl you don't know].

Click here, despite your better judgment, to read the comment and look at the photo of the girl, so you can see if she is prettier than you. Decide that she looks kind of dull and is probably not as funny as you either. Wonder why you even care? Feel animosity towards ex-boyfriend for no definable reason.

[Girl you like but haven't talked to in years]: Has thrown an apple at you!

Click here to pointlessly ‘throw’ a random object back at her in lieu of meaningful communication.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is listening to a great album!

[Hipster you are vaguely acquainted with and were always a little scornful of]: Has posted pictures from the album “Amazing Wild New Year’s Blowout Party that was Full of Sexy Hipsters Who Are Cooler than You”.

Click here to view the album. Judge all of the people in it because they are mugging at the camera and attempting to look sexy. Also, everyone is drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and wearing trucker hats. Tell yourself you would rather have spent New Year’s Eve at home on your couch, which is good because that’s what happened. Feel slightly bad about yourself for unexplainable reasons.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is a fan of “Pastrami”.

Click here if you are also a fan of “Pastrami”, because the zany, eclectic things we express fondness for help define us to others.

[Random dude you worked with two jobs ago]: Has given you a Martini!

Click here to ‘give’ a ‘drink’ to [Random Dude you worked with two jobs ago], because that constitutes rewarding social interaction or something.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Loves Grey’s Anatomy!

[Girl whom you vaguely recall got married right out of college]:
Is now listed as ‘Single’.

Feel overwhelmingly curious and slightly appalled that this information was posted on Facebook and now as a result you are pointlessly aware of it.

[Girl who you shared some classes with in college]: Has tagged herself in a photo!

Click here to view the photo and note that while it is flattering, it also looks very little like how you remember the girl actually looking.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is hungry!

[Person you don't know]: Has left a comment on the status of [Girl whom you vaguely recall got married right out of college and is now apparently single]: “Hey! What happened?”

Feel even more appalled that someone would publicly post a brief, impersonal question like that; do they really expect an answer? Well, maybe. After all, what does [Girl who used to be married] expect, after announcing her singleness on Facebook? Begin feeling ill about the whole scenario.

[Guy you are vaguely acquainted with]: is listed as “In a Relationship” with [Girl you have met twice].

Feel faintly surprised at the match, but mostly indifferent. Wonder how [Guy] and [Girl] decided that their relationship had reached the critical “Change Your Facebook Status” level. Speculate as to whether they discussed whether or not to change their Facebook statuses at the same time, and, if not, wonder which of them did it first, and if the one who did it first worried that the other one would feel that it had been done prematurely. Feel slightly depressed by this train of thought.

[Guy you were close to in college but haven't seen in five years]: Has sent you an invitation!

Click here for details on this invitation to “An Awesome Show I’m in that is Happening in a City You Haven’t Lived in Since 1999.” Feel flattered by the invitation, but also confused. You’re probably not going to hop on a plane to see the show of a friend you haven’t spoken with since college. But you still feel too guilty to respond to the invitation with a “No”, so you absurdly put “Maybe”.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is beginning to depress you with her constant updates.

Click here to scan through your Facebook friends and realize that very few of them represent actual, current friendships or even associations that you remotely value. In fact your list of contacts feels like an eerie social graveyard of expired friendships, badly ended relationships, and vague, past acquaintances you care very little about. Begin to feel depressed by the fact that so many people have passed in and out of your life without leaving much of an impression on you. Wonder how a website that is so meaningless, vacuous and shallow has become so overwhelmingly popular (particularly with younger generations), and what that means about how we view social interaction today and the direction in which it is going.

Pour yourself a real, actual drink. Note that you have a closer relationship with Jim Beam than with most of your so-called Facebook friends.

Leave Facebook.

About the Author: Molly Schoemann grew up in New York City and began writing humor and satire during her freshman year of college. She is the Humor Editor of The Perpetual Post(http://perpetualpost.com) and is still not sure how she feels about social networking sites. Molly currently lives in Garner, North Carolina.

Got a humour story? Send it to me at dezymacedo@gmail.com

July 9, 2010

Just The Kind of Face You Make

Fritz Gonsalves

“Your dad suffered a heart attack, but he is fine now”.

That was my friend calling me at 10 a.m in the morning sometime in April and that was the first time I made this awful fart kind of face.

I allowed the news to sink in and then called up my bother and broke the news to him. There was a 30-second silence and in all probability he was busy making the same face. The next I broke the news to my boss and teammates and in no time they all had the same look on their faces. At once, everyone logged on to Cleartrip, Make My Trip and Travelguru to check for cheap airline tickets to Bhopal, my hometown.

By 5-o-clock I was 72, 000 feet in the air and practicing the calm-face look. But I failed miserably. The fart look has taken over my face. By the time I landed it was already 8.00. Dad was in hospital, so I drove straight there. Greeting me at the hospital were our family friends. I was meeting them after a couple of years and because I am terrible at making polite conversation, I had absolutely nothing to say. They took me to the ICU. I saw my old man. He was wearing an oxygen mask and was busy flirting with a Mallu nurse. He looked cheerful, as if he has just found a reason to live. I exchanged some pleasantries, enquired about mom and then got moving. Our family friends took me to the junior doctor and introduced me. Suddenly the same look came over his face. He explained to me the medical condition: “Your dad suffers from myocardial infarction.” I was shocked. So now, apart from a heart attack, he also suffers from myocardial infrastructure, or whatever. No dumbo, both are the same thing. He didn’t say it. I just figured it by the fart-face look.

Now the serious stuff, the plan of action day, the ‘take control and get it right’ stuff. Tomorrow was that day.

The doctors were going to perform angiography and then if need be angioplasty and then if nothing worked, bypass. Now if one is really lucky, and trust me, a lot of heart patients are, angiography is good enough. The doctor injects a dye into the blood vessel and they’ll get to know the exact location of the block. The dye just washes the block away. But if you are not so lucky, which means the block is this mean kid who refuses to go to school, then they inflate the vein and blast it with an air bubble. The block disappears. That’s angioplasty. But if the block belongs to this hard-arse Jat Family, notorious for illegally occupying your ancestral property, then it’s time to roll the drums. Bypass, Bypass, Bypass. I somehow had the intuition it was going to be Bypass. My intuition was right.

The next day I met the senior surgeon. And the first word that hit me was ‘saint’. The guy was as white as white cement. I mean apart from his jet-black, thinning hair, everything else was white. It’s kind of reassuring when the Surgeon General looks like a saint. But his looks surely got my imagination working. We were given a bypass date, which was still fifteen days away. So I decided to come back to Mumbai for a week and wait, but my dad suffered another myocardial infarction and I ran back home again.

The surgeon decided to advance the surgery. But we still had one week. Now dad still had to kill time and, as I’m still single and the private ward was full of caring, homely, unmarried Mullu nurses, he went right into business. No time to waste. “Before the surgeon opens my heart, I’ll make sure my son gives his heart to one of these nurses. Perfect union.” So whenever I was around he would deliberately call the nurse on duty and indulge in polite Mallu conversation. Soon enough, I was acquainted with Jincy, Lincy and Vincy. None excited me. But there was one nurse who had my hormones running and one night when Dad was fast asleep…well forget it, we had work to do … a bypass surgery.

So after another three days in hospital, Dad was wheeled inside for the Father of All Surgeries – BYPASS.

Now, bypass is one thing, but deciding on a bypass is no kindergarden stuff. So while Dad is busy getting his chest opened, I’ll talk about the things that go into it before the operation. First you have to decide the doctor and the hospital. Everyone I knew had a suggestion regarding the doctor and a hospital. Everyone suggested a doctor who was better than the one mentioned by someone else. Then you have to decide whether to choose beating-heart surgery or silent-heart surgery. I think they are self-explanatory. And finally the legal papers that you are supposed to sign. This basically states that you can’t hold the hospital or doctor responsible for the patient’s death. I signed it.

One of the funniest conversations I have ever heard in my life happened in the waiting room between two middle-aged ladies. One, whose husband was being operated along with my Dad and another whose husband got operated a week back. The woman whose husband was being operated was sobbing silently. Taking pity, Mrs. Consolation comes and sits next to her and starts a polite conversation. This was tolerable, but in less than a minute she dropped in a bomb that turned Mrs. Sobbing into a graveyard. It sounded something like this: “Look sister, everything is going to be fine, but God forbid anything goes wrong, then you should think of it like this - God liked him more than you did and so He decided to take him back. It’s such a blessing.” In flat 5 seconds the sobbing became wailing. Mrs. Consolation realized that she had committed something that closely resembled Honor Killing, so, to cover it up she tried another line of consolation: “But you can always meet in the next life; you do believe in rebirth, don’t you? And sometimes the love is so strong that the spirit of the deceased doesn’t even leave. It stays with you.” Honor Killing metamorphosed into gruesome first-degree murder, and Mrs. Consolation was at it with a vengeance.

Finally after eight agonizing hours, Dad was wheeled out. Apparently, the operation takes only two hours; the other six are for the relatives to enjoy first-class agony. The bypass was successful. The saint was smiling. Even the husband whose wife bravely survived the honour killing followed by first-degree murder was fine.

And my face was back to being a face again.

About the Author

Fritz Gonsalves is a Copywriter who has been with Contract, Ogilvy & Mather, Wieden Kennedy & DDB. He is from Bhopal, with roots in Kerala, now married, lives and works in Mumbai. He loves writing short stories in first person singular.

Got a story? send it to me at dezymacedo@gmail.com