Saturday, April 16, 2011

The World Wide Clothesline

I have to admit, I’m not a big fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love the World Wide Web. It’s made my life as a writer so much easier. I have access to court records, news from around the world, and key lime pie recipes right at my fingertips and I never have to get dressed. Before I actually had to put on clothes and go to the public library, or even worse, Barnes and Noble where I know it’s going to cost me fifty bucks. I can’t leave that place without buying a couple or five books and a three dollar coffee.

When we were first introduced to life online we would get lost for hours. I remember Char saying “Good night” at ten while I was clicking link after link only to feel like she was saying “Good morning” twenty minutes later. In truth, I had been up throughout the night lost in the silly things one can find on the internet. It can be totally addicting like Cookie Dough ice cream.

Then social networking came along and took over the chat rooms, Yahoo groups and the other instant messaging programs. “You’ve got mail” has been replaced with “You’ve been poked.” There’s MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, BlogSpot, Tumbler and a host of others. The net is full of blogging sites, picture sharing sites and video sites where now everyone can make their own Funniest Home Video and share it. Businesses and musicians have used YouTube to shoot themselves into cyber-stardom. You can go from a Twitter account to a weekly sitcom starring William Shatner almost overnight. It has opened doors that perhaps weren’t even thought of before or only fantasized about in the shower. Of course, some of those doors should have remained shut but who am I to judge.

When I first signed up for Facebook and MySpace it was so I could spy on my kids. They had to add me because, well, I’m the dad and I pay the bills. However, I kept quiet and soon they forgot that I was on their account and immediately I’m finding out the real reason they spent the night at that friend’s house and that it wasn’t really the flu they had the next day. You find out a lot if you stay quiet and just observe. People discover things about me that way as well. Two years ago we went to visit family for Christmas and I was truly amazed at how perfect the gifts were.

“How did you know we could use all this stuff?”


Because of our status updates they knew we grilled a lot and were always hosting parties. To the observant person gift ideas are numerous.

It’s also put me in touch with people I hadn’t seen since high school and some of them I even remember. For a year I kept my middle and high school yearbooks by my desk so that I could look up names of people who would send friend requests, trying to recall how I knew some of these folks. From there it went to former co-workers, to people I knew in various churches and then to relatives I hadn’t spoken to in years and wasn’t looking forward to talking to them now. In that aspect it really is a global outreach. I can keep up with Jon who is bowling in Japan while listening to Ceileta talk about her frozen car doors up north. All the while I’m in my shorts by the pool in Florida. I converse daily with people from England, Australia and Hungary and never suffer the international call rates. Take that AT&T!

Furthermore, it saves me on film development. With digital cameras I can take all the embarrassing photos of the children that I want, post them on Facebook and let others save them and print them as they desire. Whoever came up with this technology should get a Nobel Prize or at least a gas discount.

Of course, now the web is bombarded with idiots armed with cameras, like the girl who was trying to take that sexy photo in the bathroom for her boyfriend but forgot to flush the toilet first. And really, there are way too many photos of syrupy cute dogs and cats while not enough of Alyssa Milano. Still, it is a cost and time saver.

So, what is it that I’m not a big fan of? Clotheslines.

You don’t see much of those lengths of rope stretched between trees or metal poles anymore, not with electric dryers that leave your skivvies nice and fluffy and warm. Sure the sun is natural energy and saves you money on your electric bill, but it also leaves your clothes stiff. I hated putting on jeans from the line or drying off after a shower with starched by nature towels. I did, however, enjoy that fresh air smell they had been bathed in, but thanks to that cute little bear my clothes can now come out of the dryer smelling like artificial sunshine in a meadow.

My aunt used to hang her rugs out on the clothesline, have her kids take out their frustrations with brooms and badminton rackets and then leave them for the fresh air to breeze away the entire indoor stench. “Airing them out,” she would call it and I’m sure it made sense. I just wished she would have opened the windows more and aired out the house.

The World Wide Web has become a giant clothesline that has turned grown adults into adolescents. It’s a place where people feel free to put their soiled underwear out there for anyone and everyone to see. In middle school poor Karen, jilted by her two-timing boyfriend, screamed down the crowded hall, “Jake has crotch rot!” which sent most teenage boys to a book to see if their crotch could indeed rot.

To put it blunt, I don’t want to see your dirty laundry. Stop dedicating Chris Daughtry’s “Over You” to “that scumbag husband who left you for that silicone enhanced waitress from Denny’s.” I don’t care if seeing your face “Gives Her Hell.” Call me shallow, call me cold, call me totally disinterested. I’ll celebrate your son’s circumcision, congratulate you on your daughter’s release from prison and the fact that your car actually started that very morning, but fight your divorce in court not on the internet. Stop posting how “some people are so cold-hearted to turn their backs on a friend for some guy” because, well, perhaps your whininess and penchant for drama was the wedge to begin with.

I’ve seen pitched battles between friends and relatives that left mortal wounds that could never be healed. It’s like watching old war movies where bombs are lobbed back and forth destroying homes and families, most just innocent bystanders who didn’t even know a war was being waged. It’s a verbal Red Rover, Red Rover game where insults are thrown to attempt to break the weakest link of a stable grip on decent behavior.

Really, unless your pity party comes with cake and balloons I don’t want to attend. Besides, you didn’t send me an invitation. It was forced upon me by your ability to click “SHARE.” If your life is truly that depressing why torture the rest of the world? I know what some are thinking. “These are my friends, my support group.” These are people who are too nice to tell you to stop your whining. They’ve clicked “HIDE” a long time ago. “A friend would comfort me.” A friend would tell you to stop acting like an ass in public. I hate listening to whiney children and it’s much worse when it’s an adult. I’m not your mother or your psychiatrist.

There is a reason clotheslines are banned in must neighborhoods. It’s because they are eyesores. They detract from the beauty of what is going on around and draw attention where it really doesn’t need to be. Spray your keyboard with Fabreeze before posting to your social network and then go call your best friend on the phone and vent to her. Besides, everyone already knows your ex-husband has warts on his ass. His girlfriend posted the pictures on Facebook.

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