Saturday, January 15, 2011


I would just like to make it simple.

Here are five things I do not understand. They are nothing extraordinary.  They do not even come close to phenomenal.  Maybe others may find it strange that I cannot seem to comprehend the whys and hows of these seemingly normal elements of twenty-first century civilized behavior.

But I don't.  And that is why I make no big deal about saying that I do not understand why they are there or why they happen.

1.  I do not understand why parents bring their little children to malls --- or worse --- open-air markets with make-shift stalls and about ten zillion people crowding an available space for commerce.

Could it be because Mommy and Daddy are actually training their two to three year old kids about the joys of retail therapy?  Or perhaps Daddy is trying to explain to his kids about the law of supply and demand ... and how central air conditioning certainly feels much better than the open air of a playground or a park? 

I frankly do not understand this phenomenon most especially during the holiday rush ... or even on an ordinary Sunday afternoon when the Information Counter of a department store or mall lobby is populated by all these bawling kids who got left behind by their parents.

I detest the presence of these munchkins in very crowded alley ways and corridors of tiangges in Greenhills or God knows wherever ... because some idiotic mother has decided that this is good enough an open space for her child to learn how to walk, run or perhaps dodge a kidnapper.

Somebody berated me for being quite vocal about this aversion and said that I should at least try to understand the socio-economic implications of this practice.  These parents do not have the resources to hire somebody to take care of their babies while they have to confront their daily duties and responsibilities.

This includes doing the groceries, I guess. Like buying cooking oil and toilet paper.  So that's why they deposit their little buggers on their supermarket carts right beside the rolls of three-ply toilet paper and cans of tuna in brine?  I mean ... if they cannot multi-task properly and take the risk of bringing their vulnerable little coo-coo babies to the germs-and-bacteria-infested world of the commercial space, then why did they even procreate at all?

Oh, yes ... that should be another entry to the list of things that I do not understand.  Why do people carelessly bring children to this world just because they are addressing specific biological needs at some reckless moment of personal history?  Uhm. Not too good to ask that.

2. I do not understand why some people have this compulsion-dash-compunction to report everything they are doing, 24/7 to Twitter. 

Oh, yes, it happens. And there are people who have grown this strange addiction to tell the world EVERYTHING. Literally everything.

I shall be blunt. It disturbs me when someone actually thinks that the whole cyberworld cares if he had two poached eggs for breakfast or if her husband's stubble left itch marks on her neck because they are trying to break the world record for average quota of copulation per week.  It completely freaks me out when somebody tweets about the grumblings of his stomach or how her menstrual cycle is actually affecting her driving down EDSA.  

Worse: it baffles me when people endlessly give updates about other people who they come across, think they see or imagine they are seeing in some obscure corner of the planet.  Not unless you are an entertainment reporters with a direct line to or the source of all the blind items sputtered by the denizens of Juicy, then there is absolutely no reason why you should out-CNN ... uh, CNN.

Is it actually megalomania at work when you begin to think that people are that interested in the details of your life? Don't you have any other life aside from the virtual universe you have turned into a comfort zone each time you log on to the net?

3.  I do not understand the unbridled curiosity about other people's lives.

Let us start with the cult of the celebrity.  Nowadays, it cannot be denied that some people make a career out of being celebrities rather than being anything else.  Some have made millions ... and maneuvered their careers as long as cameras are clicking or rolling and recording every itsy-bitsy detail of their most colorful and convoluted lives.

But that is what celebrities are for, right? They are celebrated but not necessarily talented.  And there are others who make it a point to always find themselves in front of the cameras and the fodder for tongues wagging because that is where the future (and the money) lies.  There is no more distinction between mere popularity and vicious notoriety. Celebrity has been diminished to amorality.  Worse than being talked about ... is to become yesterday's news.

And because media whores are busy maneuvering print and television so that they can perpetuate themselves and accumulate more of their millions, people are endlessly being held by the throat and nose into that insane and mindless corner of debauchery.  What is even more disgusting is that this is interpreted as being honest and truthful.  Oh, and the over enthusiastic audience loves that.

So everybody is asking: who is boinking who? is You-Know-Who really gay? who is his partner/lover?  is it true about this story involving the vaginal lock? who is this new boy toy of a powerful television executive? And the questions go on and on and on.

It is as if answering these mysteries of the universe can actually assure us of a better Gross National Product for the coming year.

4. I do not understand why certain people cannot get their hands off the keyboards of their cellphones just because they have opted to have unlimited text privileges.

Yes, I completely comprehend telecommunication companies providing special offers that open the whole floodgates for non-stop texting.  Considering that this country takes great pride in being the texting capital of the Milky Way, it should not surprise anybody that the two major cellphone companies should offer such a bait to win more subscribers to their kingdom.

But then ... granted that this is so, please tell me if it is anything close to decent to send text messages to everybody in your address book (which may include your grandfather's embalmer, your neighborhood meth dealer or even your favorite Muslim brother who sells you clear copies of pirated DVDs) a common message that reads: Musta ka? at about seven o clock in the frigging morning?

Let it be said that I find it vulgar to be one of the recipients of a group text message because that has all the sincerity of a politician's handshake.  Even when I get Christmas or New Year's wishes from an apparently pre-fabricated group text, my eyebrows go into an automatic angle.  As I said, if you want to do something extraordinarily nice, you don't send it by text.  It is like getting a wedding proposal via Fax.

Another unforgivable permutation of this hideous practice is when you get invitations for loans for cars, house repairs and even just plain old cash via text.  You seethe at the thought that your number has been accessed by some anonymous idiot trying to market his bank instruments to creatures out there holding cellphones close to their hearts.  Could these be a result of random punching of keyboards? Not.  According to some very reliable sources, these offers are sent to cellphone owners with good credit histories --- which could only come from your bank OR your credit card companies.

So does that mean that these commercial institutions are furnishing other businesses with access to your data?  

Ah, but that leads me to the final point.

5.  I don't understand why we are such suckers for the underdog.

Oh, we all love a sob story. Maybe it makes us feel better. It makes us feel far more superior.  We love seeing people more miserable than us because we can look up to heaven and mutter, "Thank you, Lord, that it ain't me." Then it also equips us with enough reasons to prove that we are capable of charity.

Thus arises this whole culture of fatalism --- this addiction to soap operas where every commercial gap must be punctuated by enough tears to suggest that these fictional characters are paying for a helluva lot of karma.  Oh, but then we can swallow that much when it comes to all these never-ending tearjerkers because they have been around even before television.

But then when you have real people making spectacles of themselves trying to outdo each other on who has a more miserable life or who has the bigger problem, you simply sit, stare and turn completely shell-shocked.  What is worse is that real lives no longer carry any distinction from fictional stories --- as television (specifically that powerful medium that invades the privacy of our homes down to the innermost sanctuary of our bedrooms) erases the distinction between mere narrative from actual oral history.

Well, because of our predilection for underdogs --- we also create our own demigods in terms of those media personalities who assume the role of Modern Day Messiahs.  Unfortunately, salvation has got nothing to do with the soul ...or even the redemption of the most precious possession of the poor ... that of their dignity.  The messiahs carry not the keys to heaven but pouches overflowing with cash and goodies ... as if these material dole-outs are the ultimate panaceas to all the problems of mankind.

Unfortunately, it is not. It only makes good entertainment. At the expense of those who are supposedly saved.

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