Monday, May 13, 2013

No one wants to hear anything you have to say

Last night I realized that no one wants to hear anything you have to say. No, really. They might want an answer to a direct question.  Is it still raining or where do you work but that’s about it.  Tomorrow, someone is coming to visit and I’m preparing.  Hi, how are you?“ he will ask. I’ve decided on the response: pretty good.  If you upgrade beyond ‘pretty good,’ you need to elaborate and really no one wants to know if you’re excited and happy unless it’s something that’s going to overflow on them, like money.  Nobody wants to know about your dreary little successes (and definitely they don’t want to know about your big successes) especially if you start attributing them to a higher power or say “everything happens for a reason.”
I’m not saying people are walking around in a bubble of self absorption, it’s just that we’ve become accustomed to just hitting the ‘like’ button as a means of communicating our reactions on people’s doings and that's all the time anything merits.  It’s now almost impossible to focus on what people are saying and exhausting to string words together and form coherent answers.  
Faith Popcorn the trend forecaster fortetold of this societal isolation years ago.  She called it cocooning.  Back in the very late nineties, Faith said we were going to be able to do everything from the couch.  Now it has happened. We are in a mental cocoon, hitting our likes and amusing ourselves and responding with r u ok’s.  Twitter has it right, too.  If it takes more than 140 characters you're just going to annoy everybody.

Since everything is happening to us in a vacuum, we have to self-evaluate.  Is this good for me or bad for me?  You can’t wait for the reaction of your peers because your peers don’t care.  They don’t care if you get married or have a dozen children or move to the Grenadines.  Been there.  Done that and guess what?  Not that great.  You saw The Great Gatsby?  No one wants to know if you liked it or not.  And oh, God, please no. They don’t want to discuss the sub text.   Just think of it as the opposite of the sixties when everyone was discussing everything to death.

If you were on your deathbed and posted on FB, I’m going to die in a few minutes, goodbye, a few would hit the like button but maybe not since you’re going to be dead and the only reason to hit like is for communicating approval or disapproval. The ‘like’ button has become a judgment button.  I’m happy with you and will hit ‘like’ to any dumb thing you put up here, or I’m annoyed with you and will not hit ‘like’ even for the Nobel Prize. FB has absolved us of having to talk.  “Oh, you’re in St. Lucia cavorting in the waves?  Like. You had seviche for dinner and felt obliged to post a picture of your plate?  Like.  You want me to share some dreary message in solidarity but you’re sure I won’t do it?  Like.  You’re right, I won’t do it.  You like palean bread?  I don’t know what the hell that is but ok. Like. 
Forming responses and thinking about things is tiresome and it doesn’t yield anything.  Yes, I said it doesn’t yield anything.  Think about it.  What’s it going to yield?  Nothing. Right?  
Outside of “watch out for the dog poop” everything I say is superfluous.  I’ve come to think that the person who says nothing has it right.  I won’t say:  ‘the person who says nothing speaks volumes’ -  the type of sound byte that passes as thinking.  Some people who say nothing are lazy, bored or dumb.   My advice?  Try to say nothing, hit the “like” button with discretion and perfect a distracted air.  Thank you and good night.


  1. a man just came into my office to look at some papers. he was carrying a plastic grocery bag. i thought, oh- he's just come from the store. but no, he fished around in it, retrieving his reading glasses. he put them on and read the papers i had for him. he signed the papers, put the glasses back into the plastic bag and left. how much more do we want to know? i am intrigued - a man carrying his reading glasses in a large grocery bag. i know nothing else about him.

    see how conversations go? you tell me all this wonderful stuff up above and i respond with . . . what? something more than 'like.'

  2. What? is also good if it's said in the spirit of "What just happened here."