Friday, February 27, 2009

Join My Mafia

Sitting at the red light, I spot a car directly across the intersection with its left blinker on.

Here we go again.

As you know, when the light turns green, that left-turning driver, whether driving a Sentra or a school bus, will try to squeak through the intersection before oncoming traffic.

This is why I’ve equipped my car with a steel jousting lance about five feet long. Many a miscreant motorist have I speared while seizing the right-of-way. I just continue merrily along, bringing my alarmed and distraught traffic scofflaw with me.

See, all those late nights I stayed up to watch “Battle Bots” weren’t wasted, after all!

Sigh… if only this story were true.

Fortunately, Facebook offers a place where I can act out my violent fantasies.

For those of you who are hopelessly over 40 years old, I should explain that Facebook is a website for social networking, where you can create a profile for yourself and keep in touch with distant friends, relatives, high school classmates, and people you’d just as soon never have contact with, but you can’t figure out how to tell them that.

Facebook’s trademark is the “status update,” where you can type in what you’re up to at any given moment, as in:

“Chuck is about to go make dinner.”

“Chuck is tired of shoveling out after yet another snowstorm.”

“Chuck has something in his ear… no, wait, it’s gone.”

As if this isn’t bad enough, there is now a service called “Twitter” that allows you broadcast text-messaged status updates to anyone who subscribes to you on his or her mobile phone.

The upshot of all this is that we’re seeing a generation for whom being in constant contact with one another is the norm.

“Leave a message and I’ll call you back” is so 20th century.

Teenagers don’t experience solitude, because even the most awkward and geeky of them and can find enough “friends” through the inhibition-thawing conduit of technology to muster a few superficial conversations.

In person, seeing someone’s glasses, acne, shabby clothes, facial tick, or sawed-off shotgun with a rabbit’s foot attached to it might be cause to reject someone. These qualities often don’t show up online.

Not only that, but kids are growing up constantly entertained. When do they take any time to just sit and think, without being entertained by some device? No wonder they’re completely out of touch with themselves and psychotically insane.

Fortunately, Facebook has a solution. It’s a game called “Mafia Wars,” in which you adopt the persona of a gangster and try to grow your empire through real estate dealings and violent acts.

That’s why my status currently reads: “Chuck just looted a shiv.”

The more people who join your mafia, the more powerful it becomes. I’ve been pestering all my friends to join, even though most of them have no interest in the fast and dangerous lifestyle I lead, in which success means making $30,000 an hour and blowing it all on Tommy Guns.

So there is no reason to let life’s little frustrations, like someone else’s poor driving decisions, or endless futility at developing meaningful relationships, debase you to the point of extreme behavior.

Get it out of your system. Join my mafia.

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