This column tends to be a repository for snark. It’s fun to write (and hopefully also to read), and serves as catharsis. Although snark generally reads as anger, I’m not actually good and pissed very often. Today is an exception.
I recently endured a major wipeout, in front of about a dozen companions. For a minute or two after smashing into the floor, I couldn’t quite move or speak. Despite being in the sort of pain that makes time go all weird and taffy-like, I somehow managed to stand back up and get to a seat. I quietly finished my beer while determining how to get to Urgent Care. In the meantime, I bathed in a cold sweat and all my toes slowly went numb; I was also visibly going into shock. The concern expressed by my club mates was dazzling: “Ouch, that one’s going on YouTube.” “Wow, you okay? …No? Huh, that’s a bummer… So, whose turn is it?”
It took displaying some of the resulting colossal, deeply-hued bruising several days later for it to penetrate that, uh yeah, I’d really fucked myself up. For the last couple weeks I’ve been mostly a shut-in, with a long slow road of rehab ahead of me.
Never have a heart attack or anything around assholes like these.
The way I was raised, vocalizing your pain or crying would get you ridicule and a backhand to the face. Assistance was not forthcoming unless a bone was sticking out or you were bleeding freely (and even that second criteria was a case-by-case scenario), but mockery and punishment for “making noise” were guaranteed. So I learned to be stoic, and am now admittedly too reticent about pain for my own good.
At the opposite extreme are people who screech like toddlers at the slightest infraction, or those who wail in “surprise” when a predictable consequence arises. (For example, there’s a YouTube video showing some genius who jumps backwards, shirtless, onto a cactus—then cries like a bitch into the camera about the spines embedded in him. Just brilliant…)
I feel badly for people who sustain real injuries in the course of living life, but get annoyed at the way some of them milk it. After my own incident, I disgustedly realized that they know what’s up. If you’re in trouble or need attention (especially if you’re female, but boys are catching on), Turning On the Faucets™ and flinging your hair around in photogenic distress is a reliable, time-honored trick. Too bad I don’t play that game; it might’ve been an effective antidote to the near-bovine-level apathy displayed that night.
So yeah, we really do live in a society that doesn’t notice or care about someone else’s pain unless they loudly and dramatically spew it all over, like Regan MacNeil launching pea soup. Is this an end product of the fame-at-any-cost craze, or what a couple of decades of “reality” TV has morphed us into? Whatever.
Bring on Ebola and the meteor. I’m done with the fucking human race.