2/2/05

I Love Groundhogs and I Love Groundhog Day

It recently occurred to me that I'm inordinately fond of relatively inconsequential things.

(-Not that groundhogs are inconsequential. Imply as much around my friend Evan and he'll probably throttle you, for he adores the critters and should definitely wear a live one as a hat.)

Stuff like internet abbreviations, I mean. I love that people are so interested, and in such numbers, in things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer that they not only discuss them with one another online but discuss them *so much* and *so frequently* that they have to invent shorthand references to them, inquiring, "Did you catch last night's episode of BtVS?" "Heck yeah I did! LOL!"

Think for a moment about how healthy a society has to be to give birth to something like that. You know the populace is holding up alright when you notice they're creating fictional stories for one another, and talking about these stories, at length, within minutes of their broadcast, in code.

The ancient Mayans didn't Laugh Out Loud. They didn't chat amongst themselves about TNSGTtOE, or the latest antics of These New Spanish Guys, Thinking They Own Everything. They were too busy building their temples and trying not to get malaria.

Think the Vikings had anything even remotely like downloadable ringtones? I'm sure each warrior customized his helmet from time to time, but overall the concern focused more on navigating crosswinds and pillaging villages. I'll bet not *one* Viking ever even noticed that pillage and village rhyme, and if he did, he definitely didn't Laugh Out Loud about it. He maybe just chortled softly to himself and kept on rowing. "Pillage the village. Village pillage. With blood spillage. Hee hee."

We look at these things as insipid and meaningless - our favorite shows, our quilting circles, our cinnamon floss, our home automation software that interfaces with our bluetooth-enabled cell phones to switch on our jacuzzi when we walk in the door. But I don't think they're insipid, or at least I value them in spite of their insipidity.

These distractions, gizmos, and all the other miscellaneous ephemera that goes along with modern life - this crap is our *culture*, and we should love it.

We should love the fact that thousands of people will show up, in costume, for a convention celebrating a movie that left theaters nearly three decades ago.

We should love wookiees.

We should love sanitizing, and maximizing, and every other "-ize" word that was just flat made up by advertisers during the last century.

We should love Paris Hilton, no matter how unlovable she may be.

We should love all these things, because they are the latest and greatest, the top layer of the complexity parfait that is the proliferation of our species. The more time that passes without a global famine or a meteor strike, the more time we have to populate our world - and our individual worlds - with ever-fancier geegaws and doodads like agriculture, and democracy, and telemarketing.

They're testaments to our success, whether they really indicate progress or not. They prove that we know as a people how to get by on this planet, and have gotten so good at it that we can devote our time and energy to making our lives ever more interesting - and defining that quality in terms of *what* *interests* *us*.

This is the nature of humanity. This is our highest purpose. I know it doesn't look like it, but an online community of people reading and responding to other people talking about their lives and thoughts is us at our best. Each little tap on this keyboard of mine is one example of our collective masterpiece, the crowning achievement of thousands of years of striving.

So when I turn on the TV in the morning and see a man in a top hat hoisting a groundhog aloft before thousands of excited people, all disappointed that the little guy saw his shadow but nonetheless happy to be there, with everyone, on TV, celebrating our race's ridiculous annual attempt to divine how much longer us shaved apes will huddle together shivering while the rock we're all riding moves a little bit closer to the flaming ball of gas holding our place in the universe, I'm happy.

I'm happy that we cheer for rodents. I'm happy that we willingly ignore centuries of meteorological research to watch a hole in the ground, just because we want to. It reassures me to see that.

And I love it.

2 comments:

penelope said...

ME TOO! Yay! What an inspiring post. I agree with all of it.

Except the Paris Hilton thing. She sucks. I'd like to kick her in her bleach blonde shins. Or push her off this gliding rock...maybe she'd land on that ball of flaming gas and all her hairspray would ignite. Yah...

Kristen said...

wonderful post!