The Internet will kill Thanksgiving.

And it won’t stop there.  The Internet is after all those other holidays where family members gather to share a year’s worth of news and, after a day or two, rub each other the wrong way.

Why?

Because thanks to the Internet, we don’t have anything safe left to talk about.

Thanks to Facebook, etc., we know all about Uncle Al’s colonoscopy or Aunt Emma’s hysterectomy.  Hell, not only do we know the details, we’ve seen the video.

So before this holiday season gets rolling, I already know of the medical challenges overcome by my new niece Iris and her brother Scott.  Seen the pictures, maybe even saw their medical charts.  By Thanksgiving or Christmas, this is all old news.

So what’s left to talk about?

None of the safe stuff, like bumps and bruises and illnesses, the successes in school or on the athletic field or at work.  Been on Twitter, seen that.

All that leaves us for those holiday gatherings with family is the weather, and politics.

Want to strangle the happiness out of a family gathering?  Mention Barack Obama or health care or death panels.  Scream out “You Lie” when your mother starts in on one of those stories of the idiot things you did as a kid.   Praise or criticize the political wingnuts on the left or the right.

Thanks to the Internet, that’s all we’re left with.  That, and the weather.

It could be worse.  Thankfully, social networking sites are fairly new.  Imagine that classic movie A Christmas Story, which often plays for an entire day, over and over, until you either fall asleep or try to kill yourself.

bunnypic

What if Twitter had existed in the movie’s time?

Ralphie: My aunt got me this stupid bunny outfit.  If I ever get a BB gun for Christmas, gonna shoot her.

Ralphie:  Mom made me wear the stupid bunny outfit.  Gonna shoot her too.

Ralphie: I got a gun! My dad got me a Red Ryder BB Gun!!!

Ralphie: i tink i put my i out.  #@%!!*&

We’re saved at least this.  But come holiday season I expect to read Tweets about mediocre turkey dinners or lousy Christmas presents, maybe catch video of sleepy people dragging their sorry selves up too early on a Christmas morning — all captured by smartphones and instantly uploaded to the Net.  Oh the memories, the instant memories, ones shared with an indifferent world.

But don’t think for the moment the Internet is satisfied with just killing Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Oh no, the Net has other holidays in its sights.  Like Halloween.  Just around the corner, Halloween, though it’s never officially the holiday until some TV network plays  It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.   Without that, it’s just another day with free candy and future cavities.

greatpumpkThere’s a Wikipedia page for The Great Pumpkin.  You knew there had to be.

Talk about sticking in a pin and hearing the magic rush out in a sincere woosh.  The Great Pumpkin, according to wikipedia, is a holiday figure “that seems to exist only in the imagination of Linus van Pelt.”

Seems to exist?  Argh! I feel like Lucy yanked the football away just as I was about to kick it.

The wikipedia article also recounts a 1961 Peanuts strip (from a newspaper, one of those old media things) in which Charlie Brown says he heard on the radio (another old media thing) the Great Pumpkin had appeared in a very sincere pumpkin patch.  In New Jersey.

The article ends: “Charlie Brown always in his heart believed, but he was afraid what Snoopy would think.”

Okay, maybe wikipedia isn’t so bad after all.

So now I have to think up a whole new list of safe topics over the holidays, stuffing not provided via Facebook or Twitter or Youtube or whatever new social networking flavor-of-the-month site family members use to update me on their lives. All the details we’ve covered again and again.

I suppose we can just talk about Facebook.



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Barry Hollander

Barry Hollander

Former hack at daily newspapers, now hack journalism professor at the University of Georgia, number cruncher and longtime Net user, caffeine addict, writer of weird fiction, and a semi-retired god in an online fantasy world where godhood suits him quite well, thank you very much. He also blogs at http://www.whatpeopleknow.com

3 Comments
  1. Barry I had gotten caught up in the political articles on the dew and forgot that human interest can be satisfying as well as eye opening. A visit to a close first cousin that a doctor has put an expiration date on his life makes all the Facebooks, Tweeters, Youtubes, camara phones and all other modern day toys seem small. If he makes it to the Holidays knowing it will be his last you will talk about a lifetime of good times, good friends, and family that will be there to the end.
    Your article IS a great modern day story that is very true no mater how light hearted you have presented the subject.
    Thanks for reminding me there is more to life than news TV.

  2. As delightful as I find your article, I think you’re wrong. Bless your heart. My brother-in-law sends me a daily email with news of his life, so I know the exact progress of his new wooden floor, moods of cat Hedwig and pecadillos of his neighbor. These topics give me plenty of stuff to talk about at the holidays. Plus, he always ends the email with a corny joke. Everyone in our family reads to the end just for the joke.

    Today’s joke: Times are so tough for one family that they have to put their twins in the same diaper just to make ends meet.

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