You know that horrid nightmare some of us had as kids that just followed us right in to adulthood? Picture this; you’re in a room filled with people. Seems normal. Then, without forewarning they all start to walk away. Although you are not sure why, you are compelled to follow the crowd; innocent enough seeing as you recognize some of the faces. Problem is, you can’t seem to catch up. The crowd is moving in unison, shifting from one room to another, as if directed by a voice only they can hear. Your feet feel heavy, weighted down. Your legs need consent to move. All this effort, all this focus, becomes frustrating and almost unbearable. You finally wake up, feeling upset although it was just a dream. How did that crowd know where to go? Who assembled the crowd and why weren’t you included? Why did it seem easy for them when you yourself couldn’t seem to catch up? Why am I even asking myself these questions when it’s only a stupid dream?
Back to life, back to reality (song reference). I’m at work; it’s lunch time and those gathered in the kitchen use this time to relax and/or socialize. To catch up with one another or just to lose themselves in their food and a good e-book. On this particular day, for some of us, it becomes a time to pick apart the latest episode of Scandal. Yes, it’s my guilty pleasure, and thankfully there’s a nice cult following at work. We relive, recap and review each scene. To keep this story to the needed information, after we discuss those details, I inquisitively offer up the following question.
— “Huck and Quinn kept repeating the term YOLO. I saw that the episode was titled YOLO. What in the world is YOLO?”
I asked with what I’m sure were facial gestures of desperation. And just like that, SNAP! I’m transported back to that dreaded dream, that nightmare, as three coworkers, right there and then, in unison replied:
— “You Only Live Once”!
They giggle, realizing their melodic and united acapella exclamation.
My eyes quickly ping-pong, landing for a micro second onto each, feeling suspect of all those around me. More distressed facial gestures exposing lines that I, as a 40+ woman can surely do without.
— “What? You Only Live Once? How the HELL did you guys know that?
My husband mentions on occasion how he can identify the age of a person by looking at their hands. He goes on to detail that the amount of lines, brown spots, wrinkles, thinned skin and the accumulation of these help him determine what decade of life you’re in. “Her hands gave her age away” you may hear him say.
And as true as that may be, I find that another possible give away to be the accumulation of trendy knowledge one of “a certain age” may be oblivious about. Case in point #2; or #two or better yet #wherehaveIbeen. Did you catch that? Yes, the rebirth and the explosive mainstream popularity of the HASHTAG. This thing, this character started to pop up everywhere from HGTV commercials to every post on my Instagram feed. Picture captions were now cluttered with runonsentencesthatsimilatedwordfindpuzzlebooks. Not so witty unless prefixed with a “#” huh? But by the time I even noticed, it was old news. It already established a home under everyone’s pictures and status, while I seemed to find a cozy spot under my rock. And once again, it took three coworkers to school me on the entertaining qualities of this quirky symbol.
Was there anything else I was missing? There had to be. Now determined to keep myself in the know, I kept my ears opened to surrounding banter and eyes opened to any visual hints. And the flood gates of social media heaven opened up and poured heavily down on me.
When did the term Smiley Face turn into EMOTICONS and EMOJIS? Sure, after a little wiki research, I get that emoticons are pictorial representations of facial expressions by means of punctuations, and that emoji is just a Japanese term originally meaning pictograph. Blah! blah! blah! I get all that. But when did all of this catch on fire? When did it become a feature so necessary when buying a handheld device, because these itty bitty pictographs need to be included to fully communicate with one another? Not to mention that everyone needs to assign their contacts with one of these icons? Is a picture of your contact’s actual face not enough anymore?
Now, Pinterest was one of the trends that I actually did jump on the bandwagon early on to. I spent my commuting time perusing ideas on how to organize my jewelry better and what crafts would excite my 5-year old. But then, I began seeing picture posts appearing, accompanied with comments ranging from wine to behavioral humor. Same pictures, tweaked with different messages. And just like the Body Snatchers (movie reference), they started taking over all social network feeds. THIS seems to have become the acceptable form of expressing your mood?!! My 16-year old laughs, noticing my ignorance and informs me that these are called MEMES. What??!!! (I would have totally mispronounced that). A little more Wiki research and I come to find out that the word “meme” was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene”, as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads. Who’s schooling who now? And can someone please stop spreading around Bad Luck Brian?
The only book series I’ve gambled to get lost in was Twilight. In my defense, it came as a recommendation from an excited office mate during that pleasant, quiet time when no one was talking about it. When you could read a book without worrying about Hollywood tainting your ideas of a character by matching them up to all the wrong actors. A time when I didn’t have to worry about reading a book that would summons a teenybopper faction parallel to those that chase Justin Bieber. Fast forward and of course, without noticing, while I was nose deep into The Gargoyle or ROOM, other trilogies were surfacing. Making their way through; not just to those droned little tween girls, but even to my circle of friends. There was the constant dialogue and eager exchange on the series called THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT. And I can’t EVER disengage the visuals in my mind due to the over-heard discussions on the popular book of some dude named GREY and all his 50 shades. I humbly consider myself an avid reader, but I guess I was dusting the credenza under my rock when everyone else heard about, started AND completed all these books.
And just like with those dreaded wrinkles and age spots; you feel compelled, driven even to do all you can to find preventative measures, to find a way to turn the hands of time back, to just STOP IT from happening. Give up and give in. Surrender to it. Embrace your new path in life. Resistance is futile! (another movie reference). These “wrinkles”, being out of the loop, being a few steps behind the prior generation becomes a badge, a sign of maturity, that YOU ARE grown. And is that not what the prior generation is struggling to do anyway?
I will never use YOLO in a sentence other than this one. I’m fine with never having heard the Drake song that started it in the first place. I will #continuetoreadandenjoyeveryone’shashtagsbutnotsuccumbtoit except for this moment. Well, except maybe for an occasional #TBT. I’m proud to have never copied and pasted a meme. I take absolute pride in the books that I’m particular about reading. And I will allow my kids to continue to school me when needed.
And maybe, just maybe, that damn nightmare will stop visiting me in the depths of darkness!
*** (Please share your “wrinkles”).