The Gatekeepers

I don’t always get along with my father.

Let me tell you a story. This has nothing to do with my father, but I’m telling it anyway. A high school friend of mine just got engaged. I hadn’t spoken to him in years when I logged onto the Facebook and discovered that he had gotten engaged to a woman I don’t know and will never meet. It was cute. Being a former film student, he did it in the form of a trailer. It wasn’t a trailer for a movie, but a trailer for him proposing to her. (“In a world where love is dangerous, one man takes it to the next level…”, that kind of thing.) I was happy for him. But being the Robot King, I had to get a little snarky. When his fiancée remarked that she was “literally over the moon”, I said, “‘Literally?'” And when he posted the video of him going into the movie theater where the trailer was playing to meet her (maybe he paid off the projectionist?), I wrote, “I don’t really care, but good for you.” The next day, I discovered that he had unfriended me. Call me an asshole, but doesn’t that seem a bit extreme?

Look, I know that at that moment, he basically just wanted to hear how happy everybody was for him. But that’s exactly the point: everyone else was offering congratulations, so I decided to be a little different. I haven’t spoken to this guy in years. I’ll likely never see him again, and even if he were to invite me to the wedding, I wouldn’t go. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m just being honest. But I guess he didn’t want that. To him, announcing an engagement on Facebook is a simple call-and-response. We see that happen all the time. Every time somebody gets into Harvard or gets pregnant, they post about it and everyone is expected to like and comment. (Incidentally, when a friend of mine got into Harvard Law a few years ago, I told her I hated her. She laughed.) When you get right down to it, isn’t telling somebody that you don’t care, but good for them basically the same as saying “congratulations”? I guarantee that most of this guy’s Facebook friends will not be affected by the engagement, but they masked their apathy. I didn’t. There are only a handful of Facebook posts anyway: the passive-aggressive “someone I know is being obnoxious, ask me about it” post, the “something wonderful just happened, congratulate me” post, the “I am so grateful for all of my friends and family, please like this” post, and the “something happened in the world Breaking Bad Michael Jackson something something” post. Maybe we should go back to sharing cat videos.

I know it’s horrible, but I find this hilarious.

balloon punish childIt’s easy to sit around doing nothing when you have the whole day to yourself. I remember facing that dilemma about four summers ago when I spent the first half of the summer looking for a job and the second half working at KMART. I worried that I would not have the time to read, watch TV, and socialize when I started at my job, but strangely enough, I found myself doing roughly equal amounts of all that both before and after getting hired. I guess that has to do with momentum. As a child, I was pretty miserable. I had all the time in the world when I wasn’t in school, and spent most of it being miserable. I still have a fair amount of free time, but more responsibilities. I’m getting better at managing my free time, though, which is good, since I should be starting work at the coffee shop very soon now.

I have, as I have mentioned before, been spending lots of time on YouTube lately. There’s something seductive about it, but more than that, it’s tempting to form an attachment to YouTubers the same way that you form an attachment to that one guy/girl that you had a couple classes with in college but never got around to really talking to. It’s not attraction so much as just unsated curiosity. You regret not getting the chance to have dinner or hang out with them before graduating. Come to think of it, I had a lot of classmates like that. There are vloggers who upload a new video every single day. It’s easy to think that their lives must be more interesting than yours and wish you could crawl through the screen and join them. Even if you could, you probably wouldn’t want to. But it can take a while to build up a life that is interesting on its own merits.

When I moved back in with my father, my mother told me that I would have to take into consideration that I was, essentially, living with a roommate. I guess that’s true, but since I’m a pretty good roommate (even my last roommate said so, and he was a psycho), I’m not too worried about that. My father’s problem is that he can be controlling. He likes to drive to work every day. My workplace is a lot further away than his, but he wants me to take mass transit there anyway instead of lending me the car. That’s his right (it is his car, after all), but would it really be that big of a deal for him to catch a shuttle to work given how close it is? I guess I’ll just have to suck it up and deal. Because I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

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