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Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Internet Wants You To Hate Me



The internet won’t be happy until it turns everyone against me.  That might sound paranoid to you, but recent trends support this theory.  First, there was the How Much Do You Like Cats? quiz, which exposed me as the cat hater I am not.  Now there’s this guy.  I’m not delighted by this guy, and it appears I’m wrong.

For you anti-link-clickers in our viewing audience, allow me to provide a brief summary.  It’s a tale as old as time really, in fact, it is probably an old story, but I only just become aware of it because someone posted a link to it on Facebook.  16-year-old Rain asked his father, Dale, to kindly stop waving good-bye to him as the school bus pulled away because he felt slightly embarrassed by this.  Instead of ceasing all waving immediately, the boy’s father continued to bid his son farewell, now donning a variety of costumes, a large number of them dresses, for some reason.

Admittedly, this one isn't so bad.

Saucy Raggedy Ann being eaten by a fish?

Too far.

It appears I spoke to soon.

This is one of those click bait stories that pop up on Facebook from time to time—in fact, as I mentioned earlier, that’s how I found it—and everybody inexplicably finds it charming.  They commend the dad for his, I don’t know, failure to cut his child some slack, revel in his lust for life and penchant for fun, because apparently waving good-bye to your teenage son from the front yard dressed in an ill-fitting Wonder Woman costume is a super sweet dad move.  People who post comments on this sort of stuff will usually leave comments like, “I love this,” or “Way to go, dad!” or “Someday this kid will get it!”  What’s to get?  This guys an asshole.  Yeah, that’s right.  I’m a cat-hater who thinks fun dads suck.  I’m the worst.

Why is embarrassing your kid in front of his/her peers commendable?   Why does the online community at large embrace characters like this, hold them aloft on their metaphorical shoulders as if they are cultural heroes?  Sometimes it seems that to be considered a good dad, by internet standards anyway, you have to be a larger-than-life weirdo with a wardrobe stocked full of silly costumes and funny signs.  Seriously.  Here are some actual comments people have left (comments in parentheses clearly my own):

"amazing Father" (why?)

"Thats one heck of a dad...♡" (Why??)

"Super Duper Dad. He pays attention to his kids. So many so called Dads don't even acknowlege their kids. Thumbs up Dad!" (He doesn't pay attention to his kids!  His kid asked him to stop!)

And they go on.


One of my favorite pastimes is, and has always been, irritating the people I love.  I don’t do it constantly, but sometimes I’ll find myself in the mood to annoy my loved ones and I’ll go for it.  With my wife, I play this character we call Dumb Guy.  Dumb Guy pretends he doesn’t know something that everybody on the planet knows.  I used to be able to drive my wife crazy with this guy, now she mostly ignores me.  I don’t break Dumb Guy out very much anymore, but my affection for him will never die.   I also do Shocked By The Bill Guy, who is shocked by the check at every restaurant he eats at.  That one isn’t as annoying, in fact, I believe my wife looks upon him with a glimmer of admiration, but his schtick is fairly tired and one note, a fact that is not lost on me.

Speaking of restaurants, before the birth of my daughter, I explained my elaborate plan to terrify her one day to my wife.  She’d have to be, like, 7 or 8-years-old for the best effect, but the plan is we go to a restaurant and at the end of the meal, Shocked By The Bill Guy is, naturally, shocked by the bill, and explains to everyone at the table in hushed tones that he doesn’t have enough money to pay. “We’re going to have to wash dishes , I think.”  Then I’d look at my daughter and say, “Maybe you’d better head back to the kitchen and start scrubbing pots.”  In my original plan, I would push this until my daughter actually got out of her chair and started walking glumly to the kitchen.  I would then stop her and give her hug while tears of relief/hatred rolled down her cheeks.  Having made my currently 3-year-old daughter tear up with the lamest of annoyances, I now reject this idea as cruel and unusual punishment for a little girl who doesn’t deserve it. 

Shocked By The Bill Guy doing what he does best!

Look, I can admit that the above plan to upset my daughter with an undeniably lame “dad joke”—is there anything more dad jokey than a “washing the dishes because we can’t pay our bill” bit?—is unnecessarily mean and embarrassing, but it is also contained.  No one is privy to the deception aside from me, my wife and my daughter who I’ve traumatized for the afternoon.  The bit doesn’t involve me standing on a chair and announcing to our fellow restaurant patrons that we don’t have the money to pay our check or even explaining to our server that my daughter would be happy to wash some pans to pay for her chicken fingers.  It’s a tight, self-contained, personal annoyance.  Clean.  No one gets hurt.  Much.

I don’t feel the need to embarrass my daughter on a grand scale in order to earn the praise of faceless internet back-patters, people whose celebration of oddball parenting tactics is sick and strange, psychotic in its fervency.  I don’t feel the need to embarrass my daughter on a grand scale in order to prove some larger point to her.  In fact, I’m not sure what the point of all this cross-dressing and waving was exactly.  What’s to get from a steady routine of costumes and adieu-bidding?  That being an adult is boring?  That adulthood numbs a person so much that they have to don weird disguises and inspire unending embarrassment for and invite unrelenting bullying upon the offspring they profess to love to feel anything anymore?  Dumb.

***UPDATE*** If the preceding paragraphs didn’t make you hate me with a fiery, irrational passion, this might push you over the edge.  While reading up on Costume Dad, I saw a link to a “related” story about a veterinarian in Australia who performed a brain tumor-removal operation on a 10-year-old goldfish and the fish’s owner who paid $200 to have this procedure performed. 

Look, I know a lot of you are going to take issue with me referring to George the goldfish’s owner as his owner.  You’d rather me use “friend” or “protector” or “advocate” or “roommate.”  Well, the article used owner, so owner it shall be.  Also, it’s a fish, and a geriatric one at that.  10-years-old?!? I never had a goldfish live past 3 months, and I wasn’t abusing them or neglecting their dietary needs or letting their bowl get dirty.  They’re goldfish!  They are bred to be starter pets and fun fair prizes. They are not long for this cruel world and most of us have accepted this fact.  If you want to be a fish’s friend, go ahead.  I’m not going to stop you.  This isn’t about that.  This is about a person paying 200 Australia bucks (?) to an animal doctor to remove a brain tumor from a fish.  Is this heartwarming?  I feel like fans of Costume Dad and online cat quizzes think it is. 

A selfie of the author

Am I too Grinchy?  I’ve never been a fan of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, but maybe it’s because I see too much of myself in him.  As a general rule, I try not to senselessly hate things or dislike something just because it has captured the imagination of society at large.  For instance, I didn’t hate the Twilight books and movies simply because teenage girls and their moms embraced them so readily.  I put my head down, and I did the research.  I read the first two books and watched the first movie, and, as will naturally happen when one has consumed poison or pumpkin-spiced coffee drinks, my body rejected it.  

I’m also never touched by the videos people post from Britain’s Got Talent.  You know the ones: some awkward kid lumbers onto stage, eyes glued to the floor, barely answering Simon Cowell’s questions and then he starts singing opera or break dancing or something.  The audience rejoices, and the Facebook community follows suit.  I hate those videos.  The kid can sing opera.  Big whoop.  Opera is boring.  That opera-singing boy you like so much, yeah, his career isn’t going to go much farther than your Twitter feed.  Or maybe it will, and good for him.  It isn’t inspiring to me though.  Why do I have to act like it is to fit in?  I refuse to participate.  I’m just going to sit up here on my mountain and tie antlers to my dog’s head.  Wait.  That sounds like somebody.

As always, like what you like.  But don’t expect me to go along with you "just because."  And that shouldn’t make you not like me or not enjoy my blog or not subscribe to my monthly fan-fic newsletter, What If Buffy and Willow Hooked Up Monthly (ask me about it offline).  Different things touch and inspire different people.  You might have found inspiration in the Ice Bucket Challenge trend a month and a half ago, and that’s great.  That inspiration led to a lot of donations to a worthy cause.  And maybe the story of a costumed man embarrassing his teenage son at the bus stop every morning or a man who loves a pet fish so much he’s willing to pay $200 to have a tumor removed from its fish flake-sized brain brings you to tears.  That’s fine.  But maybe I’m more inspired by something else, something that isn’t furry or costumed or singing opera, and that’s fine too.  I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not a Grinch, but maybe I’m more discerning…?  That’s probably insulting isn’t it?  I’m not trying to be.  Sigh.   Darn you, Internet!!!


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