I have a contemptuous relationship with the public sphere (despite have an online blog thinly veiled with anonymity), which causes me to look rather disdainfully on those who update their Facebooks, Twitters, and Tumblrs with pictures of every meal and notes on every trip to the bathroom. What’s even more offensive to me than these transgressions are when people use social media to share things that I find extremely personal and private (e.g. mourning the death of a loved one, the start or end of a serious relationship, professional failures). It always comes across as extremely disingenuous and causes a series of negative reactions in me, from disdainful scoffs to livid phone calls (“Anya, what the fuck is this!? Why is Failed Freshman Math posting ‘it sux that ur mom died, bro’ on Elementary Companion’s Facebook!? Can I send a nasty message? Can we take a golf club to FFM’s car!? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.”).
So perhaps you can understand why I had a strong reaction when I logged onto Facebook and discovered that my Conservative Cousin (conservative in political views only; girl dresses like cheap call girl) had a secret wedding. Towards the end of last week, Conservative Cousin posted a blurry picture of a tacky diamond-looking ring, which caused me to pause and wonder, “Is that an engagement ring? No way, Movie 43 was in theaters longer than she’s been dating this one, it’s probably just her standard mobile update of whatever jewelry/hooker heel/too-tight dress she’s currently sporting,” and went about judging the other posts on my newsfeed. Fast forward to Saturday, when I pulled up my web browser to see pictures of her in a white veil and mini dress posted from “Paradise,” Nevada, which I quickly learned is someplace within Las Vegas (the wedding district? A skeezy motel?). And it’s obviously not actually a secret wedding if she’s posting all over Facebook about it, but none of her family members (including her parents, of whom she is the only child) were present at the wedding or invited (I can only assume), so I guess it’s more like the actual definition of eloping, which always strikes me as completely bizarre to actually do for anyone who isn’t a pair of star-crossed teen lovers.
|Ah, to be 14 and have absolutely no concept of reality.|
My thoughts in approximate order:
“Thank god I didn’t have to go (to this one).”
“I have to have call my brother.”
“Here’s my trump card for whenever Mom tries to make me see her/be nice to her or defends her in any way.”
“Can you have a bachelorette party by yourself?”
“Wait, is she actually wearing- Yep.”
“The ‘sanctity of marriage’ at its finest...”
After getting over the initial glee and subsequent critiquing, I called my brother and announced, “Drop whatever you’re doing and get on Facebook. Go to Conservative Cousin’s page and enjoy. I’ll wait.” He did so and we had a nice group chuckle. After a brief debate over whether the dudebros from the “reception” were random douchebags or friends of her husband’s (siding with randos), we discussed how to break the news to our mother. While we were both having quite the time over this revelation, we doubted that our mother would find it quite as humorous as we had. In lieu of making a belated Save the Date with one of their classy Vegas hotel pics, it was decided that I should just call her and relate the story in a serious-sounding manner.
|“Mom, I have some bad news for you.”|
So I attempt to call my mother to inform about the wedding in the least-mocking way I can manage. Her response is that of disbelief, in a literal sense.
MOM: Paul, you know how goofy Conservative Cousin is, I’m sure she’s just kidding around.
PAUL: Mom, there are like pictures and everything. It’s not like a fake Facebook marriage with your clearly platonic friend.
MOM: See? You just said that it’s a thing that people do, I’m sure it’s that.
PAUL: Ugh, not the same thing at all. Those are done to hide the end of a real relationship and then it’s with somebody who’s your best friend, and possibly in a relationship with somebody else, and everybody who looks at it instantly knows that it’s a joke. You don’t do it with somebody you’re actually in a relationship with!
MOM: Paul, you know I’m not on Facebook, I have no idea how it works, I’m just sure that she’s pulling some kind of prank.PAUL: Whatever, Mom. I’m coming over tomorrow and showing you pictures.
|Parents just don’t understand.|
The next day upon arriving for dinner, I kept my promise and asked her to meet me in the computer room to settle her skepticism. I pulled up my cousin’s Facebook page, where my mother was greeted by her new last name, and proceeded to walk her through the three-day engagement, lowest points being the her self-application of the wedding make-up in a public restroom with feet visible under stalls and reading her vows from an iPad. As we neared the end of the rueful reception, before my mother tried to unpack what she had just seen.
MOM: Huh... I really thought she was just kidding around, but it sure doesn’t look like that, huh?
MOM: Can you go back to the picture of them where they’re holding hands at the front of the... wherever they are? Hmm... Last time we visited, I met two of Conservative Cousin’s boyfriends. I think he was one of them, at least.
PAUL: ‘Cuz that makes everything okay.
MOM: I’m not saying it’s okay, Paul. Her mother is not going to be happy about this.
PAUL: How could anyone be happy about it!? She’s insane!
MOM: Now Paul, you know that she has that ADHD.
PAUL: Mom, you CANNOT blame her secret Vegas wedding on her ADHD!
MOM: Part of it is making impulsive decisions!
PAUL: There’s the need for instant gratification and then there’s eloping. IN. VEGAS. That’s nuts, no matter how you slice it! And by the way, you’re welcome for not being the kind of child who would ever do that.
MOM: Never say never.PAUL: What?
|You may find his inability to pay attention in class annoying, but just wait until he grows up and gets a tattoo on his face!|
Am I being a little harsh on a family member who deserves my love and support? Maybe you think I should be a little less scornful, but our being related doesn’t change the fact that she has essentially zero redeeming qualities (she’s made jokes about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so... there’s that). You could also argue that I’m a complete hypocrite for criticizing anyone’s hollow-hearted online presence when the forum I’m using is a public blog, but as Anya is wont to say, “When did I ever say I was fair?” Am I alone here in perceiving rampant insincerity in our online interactions?