Monthly Archives: June 2011

No paper trail

Today I received a call from a friend badgering me about whether or not I will be attending her wedding, so that she would know to print a proper invitation and have it mailed to my house. Setting aside the fact that I was already in a foul temper because of work and in no mood to talk about inane things like weddings, I swiftly informed her that she would not have to worry about mailing me an invitation, as I am not in support of physical (i.e. paper or other materials) invitations.

Upon hearing that, she wailed, “Eh, pai kua la!” (“It’s unseemly!”) I firmly repeated that she should not print an invitation for me, and merely tell me when and where via SMS, just in case I get bored and decide to go. Her next response further irritated me: “But I have people telling me that if they don’t receive an invitation in the mail, it’s very pai kua, and they wouldn’t attend.”

My temper already nearing catatonic levels, I swallowed the violent urge to scream, “WHO THE FUCK CARES? IT’S JUST A FUCKING WEDDING AND YOU HAVE FUCKING STUPID RETARDED FRIENDS!” But again, I calmly stated that I would be quite all right with just a text message. No point letting one appear in the mail only to have it end up in the trash as soon as it gets into the house.

I agree that it was harsh and probably uncalled for, but I have had it up to here with all the wedding-generated fuss I have been surrounded by of late. But I stand firm when I say I do not condone physical wedding invitations, as they are a waste of paper and money, and are almost always guaranteed to end up in the trash once the information contained within has been stored in the recipients’ cell phones, or if the recipients renege on their RSVPs and fail to show up on the miserable day. I also realize that this could pose quite the dilemma if I lose my own I-don’t-want-a-wedding battle, because I would end up torn between sending a Facebook invitation and a physical invitation, and how on earth does one choose between Tacky and Wasteful?

The impersonal stereo

“Friendship is a sacred thing, and I believe Facebook is cheapening it.” – Jimmy Kimmel

May 16, 2011:

Me: Hello?
Unfamiliar Number: Hello, Liana?
Me: Excuse me?
Unfamiliar Number: (split-second pause) Oh, my God, I’m sorry, I think I dialed the wrong number! Sorry!
Me: Oh, it’s OK.
Unfamiliar Number: This is *****, by the way.
Me: OK. Bye.

This is the best, clearest, and probably the funniest example of how you know for a fact that people have just been bitching about you. Your name is so seared into their brains from the conversation that they end up dialing your number by mistake. In my own oversight, I had long ago deleted the caller’s number so I didn’t recognize it when the phone rang, or I would have ignored the call. Shortly after this episode, I found that the caller had removed me from her Facebook friends list.

Two and a half weeks ago, Afham and I were evicted from his house. A few days later, one of his sisters removed me from her private Facebook friends list, thus cutting off my access to the bizarre inconsistencies and dirty laundry that make up her equally bizarre life. Then a week ago, I opted out of bridesmaid duty for her five-times-and-counting-postponed wedding to a man would have been her third husband, citing irreconcilable differences and making it known that I could not be thought of as condoning the behavior that she has been displaying towards her family over the past few months. This morning, I discovered that she had also removed me from her public Facebook friends list.

The common denominator here is the role Facebook now plays in our lives. Now that Facebook has become the single most relied-upon tool to update your life and make sure everyone else knows it, it has also become the most favored method of letting someone know that you want absolutely nothing more to do with them. Ever. Removing them from Facebook is equal to removing them from your life.

Which gives one the impression that Facebook has become your life. I can’t decide if it reads or sounds sadder.

I will admit here and now that I have done my fair share of spring cleaning, but I do it with the utter conviction that my purging revolves around the people whom I am fairly certain have no memory of who I am or why I’m on their friends list. The issue I’m really homing in on here is the level of human interaction that social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and even BlackBerry Messenger — all of which I am guilty of patronizing — have whittled it down to.

I’m a big advocate for communications technology and social media. I can no longer imagine how I would have been able to keep up with whats going on in the world if I didn’t have Twitter announcing things like Osama bin Laden’s demise the instant he hit the ground. But I’m no longer comfortable with the way it has also made people become so removed from interpersonal relationships that it has left a marked difference in the way they communicate. Gone is the need to hash things out over a cup of coffee (or tequila), over the phone, or even over some instant messaging service; now you just click ‘Unfriend’. Gone is the desire to call someone up to congratulate them on their graduation, wedding or firstborn, or to offer condolences on the passing of a beloved; now you just post it on their Walls because it saves you the forced verbal niceties and awkward lapses in conversation.

What has the world come to?

For someone with Asperger Syndrome, this decline in human interaction may come as a huge bonus from the booming convenience of social media. But for the entire world population as a whole, surely this isn’t the direction we want to see our daily — not to mention normal — communication plummet towards? Surely typing in block letters can’t yield the same results (and address anger management issues) that talking or even shouting can? And when did letting some 983 people know what we do, where we go and whom we see become a way of seeking gratification and validation? When did it become OK to place friendships and relationships on the same priority shelf as something as impersonal and insignificant as Facebook?

When did it become OK to live life on the basis of something so lifeless?

Go the Fuck to Sleep

I always thought parents took for granted the mental development of their children. They don’t realize until it’s just a teensy bit too late that their children are growing up faster than they themselves did in their day. That said, no one can blame them for wanting to keep their children young an innocent for as long as they possibly can, because as they get older and start to comprehend what adults and other children around them are saying, it becomes a little difficult to filter everything that they hear.

Adam Mansbach, however, probably reconciled — or resigned — himself to the reality that someday soon, his daughter would come up to him and ask  him why she heard their neighbor shout at his wife to get her ‘cat’ out of his face when she clearly saw the cat on the garden wall. That reconciliation may have been what spurned him to put on paper what every parent is thinking, but can’t voice, when they’re trying to make their children sleep, thus resulting in what I think is the most honest book on parenting of all time, Go the Fuck to Sleep.

As hilarious as the verses are in print, nothing beats Samuel L. Jackson narrating the entire book aloud: