I didn’t much care for 2017. It was a year lost to breathless whining, hysteria and fear, all of which went nowhere. The sky didn’t fall. In fact, not much of substance happened. The same problems that existed at its start exist as its end.
A sober assessment of the year is that it was squandered, wasted by those empowered to express their saddest feelings that convinced no one who didn’t already share their beliefs. A few more bodies were burned on the pyre. And then I saw this twit* by Huffington Post editor Emily McCombs which summed it all up for me.
At first blush, this was evidence of the hypocrisy of feminism and social justice, a completely insane twit of sexual impropriety that would get any male fired in a flash. But it reflected a deeper sickness as well, one of anger and failure. One of loneliness. The internet has become a substitute family for so many young people, who struggle with finding meaningful relationships, don’t marry, don’t have children, don’t receive the love or sincere validation that comes from a real family.
So you turn to the internet to create pretend friends, who tell you how smart, beautiful, fierce and wonderful you are. And you tell them the same in return. After all, how else can one maintain the farce if it’s not mutual. They rub your tummy. You rub theirs. It still doesn’t feel good, but it’s the best you’ve got, since no one else will tell you the words you need so desperately to hear.
Why can’t someone like McCombs sustain a real-life relationship? Beats me. I don’t know her. But if I had to judge from one twit, she’s a despicable person who has let the crazy in her head come out because people on the internet tell her she’s fabulous. This year saw crazy take charge, and receive the validation crazy desperately needs.
On Friday, my son started to make croissants from scratch. On Saturday, they went into the oven, and the house soon smelled wonderful. By the afternoon, my family, Dr. SJ, my son, my daughter (who prefers I not tell stories about her) and I sat around the table slowly peeling flaky layers of croissant back, putting small dabs of strawberry jam on them, and eating. And talking. And laughing. And making fun of each other. And living.
This morning, there were still three croissants left. As I had my coffee, I pondered whether to take one of the three, thus denying someone else a croissant. These weren’t disembodied names from the internet who like my twit. This was my family, my wife, my kids. These were the reasons I exist, to make their world better.
I took the one that split, rationalizing that it was the least attractive of the three and was therefore less desirable. As if this meant I was less a scoundrel, taking croissants from the mouths of my family. Dr. SJ then relieved me of my guilt by informing me that she didn’t plan to eat one anyway.
So many of you spent 2017 being angry and frustrated. To what end? So Emily McCombs could feel safe and empowered to reveal her inner nutjob and send a picture of a smushed dead rat to a guy who was done with her? So we learn that her feminism only goes so far as to demonstrate her need for a man’s attention?
The perception is that bourgeois values go against every tenet of social justice, even though arcane ideas like family don’t inherently compel racism, sexism or any other ism. There’s nothing wrong with normalcy, with having real, living people to care about, to share with, to love, in actual real life.
You spent the last year gushing your outrage. Trump is still president. Cops still shoot too soon. The Last Jedi sucked, and no matter how many people on twitter think you’re awesome, you still sit alone in your room without anyone who gives a damn about you.
Maybe the old ways, family, normalcy, hard work, are virtues for a reason. Maybe the internet and outrage won’t suffice to replace what you’ve lost in real life. We can enjoy being ordinary Americans and still not hate other people for their color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality. Let everybody be who they are. What do you care? And if wallowing in misery is the best they can do, then so be it. You can’t save them all.
We can eat tacos, wear hoop earrings and make fun of each other’s accents, then all laugh and have a beer together. Guys can tell girl jokes. Girls can tell guy jokes. Everyone can tell lawyer jokes, and we will not only survive, but have a much better time.
There is nothing that tastes as delicious as the croissants your child made from scratch. You will never find anything as worthwhile on the internet. Enjoy 2018. Enjoy it with people who truly care about you and really matter.
If you squandered 2017 being angry and seeking solace on the internets, don’t do the same in 2018. There’s a real world out there. Seek happiness rather than smushed dead rats.
Happy New Year.
*Emily McCombs has, since this was posted, protected her twits from prying eyes, and so I replaced her actual twit with a pic of her twit.