Yesterday while adding songs onto my new iPod, I built a Facebook account. Most of my siblings possess one by now, continually checking their posts and what-not throughout the snow-day as if it were a new-born babe moments from burbling its first word. Nowadays everyone seems to have ingratiated some form of on-line communication. Though I have had an email account for some time, judging from the people around me, I must be the last human being on Earth without a Facebook account. Heck, gazing through the lists of names here, even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle regularly contributes posts and pictures, and he’s been dead easily . . . well longer than I have been alive, that’s for sure.
Of course over the past twenty or so years of my existence, I have not accrued a very social lifestyle. Some may go as far as to say anti-social. Last year I quit playing World of Warcraft once I realized that I would need to group together with other elves and dwarves in order to progress. Sorry guys, this lone blood-elf raids alone.
What’s more, I always had a difficult time accepting what is popular: new technological trends, new ideas, or new fashions in dress or thought. Bandwagons and their ilk simply leave a bad taste in my mouth, like my Mom’s apple and sausage casserole. After all why not try something new or unique, the road less traveled? How can you get excited over well-tread terrain unless – like the Grand Canyon – the view well merits a visit?
Crowds too – my own immediate mob of a family not included – repel me to some extent. Not necessarily the people, merely the suffocating mass. For most celebrations, disasters, and confusions I enjoy watching the action on the fringe, with neutral eye befitting a movie or vaudeville show. Odd behavior indeed among a group of such socially adapted brothers and sisters (Many of my close friends were introduced through my siblings). I enjoy shopping late at night, when every one’s gone home and the mall/store is an empty playground. Saturday nights are spent killing digital invaders, far from any bar or pub; if I drink I do so at home so I do not have to crawl as far. During parties, I read. Dark nights warm my heart; winter snowfall kindles my soul; and in July green mint-chocolate ice cream fills my belly. I have noted that few people on the East Coast enjoy cold dark minty things. It’s a crime really.
Yet of all my idiosyncrasies, my inclination towards balance can be the most inconvenient. Among the serious, I play the fool; amid raucous foolishness, I wax stern and reticent. Additionally I don the role of devil’s advocate on a variety of occasions, prescribing balance to misplaced ideals in order to promote understanding but mostly because it annoys everyone. This tends to upset my family a bit, earning me the title of arrogant SOB, corrupter of souls, and liberal:
Mom (sighing): “I am so tired of all this Confirmation stuff. Why don’t they just learn this stuff in school like in fourth grade or something?”
Me: “I don’t think that children are mature enough to make such a decision of faith at such an early age. They would mostly just accept whatever they’re parents tell them.”
Mom: “So? What’s wrong with that?”
Me: “Well, consider other perspectives, other beliefs: Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Daoism, or Christian. You don’t want them brainwashed do you?”
Mom: “Hmph . . . Well, why not include atheist in that group too?”
Me: “Sure that’s an option too. In fact many . . .”
Mom: “Murphey, shut up . . .”
Dad: “So did you talk to Mr. Turnip today?”
Me: “Well, I tried around 9:30 sometime and left a message. I would have called again before lunch but Mom pulled me away to discuss Confirmation class. She’s quite mad at me right now, by the way. Afterwards at 1:00 I tried again . . .”
Dad: “Murph, yes or no. That’s all I want right now a yes or no answer. Not a whole story.”
Me: “Well yes and no, you see . . . .”
Dad: “Argh . . . forget it. I’ll ask Sean.”
Mom: “Sean, I can’t believe that you’d defend a murderer in trail.”
Katie: “Yeah, that just seems wrong. I wouldn’t have the stomach for it.”
Sean: “Well Mom, it would be my job.”
Me: “Yeah, the defense needs to protect the rights of the accused. Even if he’s guilty as sin, the defense must ensure that the state does not crucify him.”
Katie: “Even if you know the murderer’s guilty? How can you live with yourself to defend someone like that?”
Me: “Guilty or innocent. They still have rights. It’s the prosecution’s job to convict him if he’s guilty. The defense must protect the individual from abuse, corruption, or overly-harsh sentences. To give someone a voice in the court. After all centuries ago the convicted would be guilty until proven innocent, the abuses laden on the populace are . . .”
Mom: “Murphey . . .”
Mom: “Shut up.”
Me: “But I was just . . .”
Mom: “If you don’t stop disagreeing with everything I say, this frying pan will suddenly fly across the table and smack you in the face. If my aim is right, this will leave your lips too fat to object or your mind too unconscious to speak. Then you’ll be silent and I’ll be happy. Are we clear?”
Me: “Well, yes and no . . .”
Mom: “ARE WE CLEAR?”
Me: “As crystal ma’am.”
The varying quality of crystals in different mediums notwithstanding, I realized that most people desire answers, not perspective. Human beings loathe uncertainty. Part of that stems from our education: in elementary school a multiple-choice answer is either right or wrong, true or false. No credit is given for ‘sometimes’ or ‘depends on the situation.’ As a nun-instructed student of theology I cannot avow that truth, good, wrong, evil do not exist, but perhaps the majority of opinions are an amalgam, a fruitcake if you will, chock full of worthless fact as well as worthwhile insights.
For my own part, I either attempt to bring about balance or brush away at my own incompetence. Thus I position myself on the sidelines – the fringe so to speak – and observe. Am I anti-social? Maybe. Personally I just think that amid all the chaos of my daily life, quiet solitude befits my free time. Perhaps in the end Facebook is just too chaotic for my tastes . . .