“Hi, my name is Hajira and I’m addicted to the Internet.”
Phew, you say to yourself, that cow is finally getting the help she needs. You might be right about the cow part, but the only problem is that the support group is an online one…
It’s a common problem faced by many of us – we spend so much time on the internet that our relationships, activities and work in the real world come off second best at times.
Remember the real world? The place where you could reach out and grab somebody’s hand, feel the blood pulse beneath the skin? The place where you could be reasonably certain that your friend is actually a young lady and not a middle-aged man who breathes heavily and keeps the Kleenex handy whenever you post a new profile picture of yourself?
I think the only thing that keeps us coming back to the real world is food. When we can eat food on the internet, we won’t ever bother to press the disconnect button.
That sign on the door that says “On lunch - back in 15 minutes!” will be staying up much, much longer than that. Even the prospect of real, sweaty, fumbling sex can be passed up these days in favour of, ahem, “researching” one’s more taboo proclivities in a much more glamorous format.
Recently, a Korean couple who starved their baby to death while they looked after a virtual baby at the internet cafe showed the world how far this thing can go. Just give them a bowl of shark fin soup in their virtual world and they wouldn’t have even resurfaced to find out that they had killed their own kid.
So now there are only three categories of people who still exist in the real world. They are as follows:
1. “Celebrities” – these people have to go into the real world to have pictures taken of them passed out in the gutter with their underwear around their ankles. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be famous for anything. They do occasionally pass their time in cyberspace by having Twitterfeuds with other "celebrities".
2. Politicians – often found running amok (impregnating random women, embezzling taxpayers’ money, running over joggers, etc.) in the real world because everyone else is in cyberspace stalking other people they don’t like and playing Farmville.
3. Poor people – these people don’t have computers so we think their opinion doesn’t really matter until we realise it’s election time again. Can often be found burning tyres in service delivery protests, but still can't be expected to think outside the box when putting a tick in the old ballot box.
On the other hand, living completely in the virtual world might mean that we get to eat whatever we want and still stay virtually thin. If they develop a decent mutton biryani then I’m buying myself a plot of land in Farmville. Hyuk.
Just recently I have had cause to question the ability of the human race to rear children decently and responsibly. I therefore propose that we implement legislation to enforce child licenses. Psychiatric evaluations, home inspections and competency tests should be compulsory on prospective parents to ensure that children brought into this world are brought into it by loving caring people who will give children stability and love.
It’s difficult to adopt a kid, right? There are all kinds of procedures involved to ensure that the orphaned child in question doesn’t end up being abused by the adoptive family, trafficked into a child sex ring or enslaved. So where are the checks on people who just go the easy route and just manufacture them themselves?
Unless you are Angelina Jolie or a person who is infertile but really desperate to have a child, you are not going to adopt. Why go through all the trouble and paperwork to prove that you would be a fit parent when you could just knock yourself or your partner up?
The sad reality is that all the sick paedophiles and child abusers out there are parents themselves and are quite happily using their own children as punching bags or pawns in their little sick games. So if we are really so concerned about preventing child abuse, why not implement child licenses?
The social services in any country can only step in AFTER some kind of terrible, noticeable abuse or neglect has taken place. The damage is already done by that time. There is no cure for a child who has been abused, so why are we not paying attention to prevention?
Children grow up to be the society of tomorrow. Today’s society is already filled to the brim with the damaged children from yesterday’s abuse.
There are many different theories floating around out there about the meaning of life, why we are here, what the hell forty-two has to do with any of it, et cetera.
Whatever your personal or religious beliefs, whether you are a by-the-book religious type, a New Age spiritual sort, a hedonistic atheist or anything inbetween, I think the one thing we cannot possibly argue with is that life is hard. It sucks sometimes. Of course, then sometimes it doesn’t, but there’s always that moment when you think, “really? Does it really have to be this stupidly hard?”
Perhaps it would be better to think of life as a great video game, filled with tough challenges and levels. Only you don’t get given a bazooka to blow up anybody that irritates you and sadly, you only have one life.
Whether you live in a shack or a mansion, you will be faced with challenges and burdens. No-one has the right to say that their life is harder than the next person’s. It is also stupidly pointless to play the blame game. We could all blame our parents for traumatising us beyond repair by making us listen to Billy Ray Cyrus singing “Achy Breaky Heart” on repeat in the car all the time. All the time!
But this is not about me. Whatever gave you that silly idea?
If someone did something to hurt you in the past, you can’t carry on living your life until you have truly forgiven that person. Some things can’t be changed. Sometimes we have to accept a reality that we don’t like.
If you live with any bitterness or hatred in your heart for any person, situation or event, it begins to define who you are, and the negativity slowly seeps through into every aspect of your life, your being and your attitude.
We may not be able to change what has happened in the past, but we can change how we react to it. It is not an easy process, and may take years to successfully achieve.
There will always be negative people in the world out there. You will come into contact with them, you will work with them, you may even have the misfortune of living with them.
Negativity is a chain reaction. Let’s say this morning you woke up and found that your neighbour (who found out a week ago that his wife was cheating on him with her best friend’s husband) smashed your car’s windscreen and put a sizeable dent in the bonnet with the half-brick he threw over your fence to shut your dog up in the wee hours of the morning. You get into a screaming match with him, he tells you he’s not paying for the damage and you go to work fuming.
During the course of your day, you get a quote for the damage to your car, which is astronomical. You snap on the phone to your colleagues, you bite the cashier’s head off at the bank because the queue was long, there was a big sweaty fat guy who had just eaten what smelled like a steak and kidney pie breathing down your neck while you were in said queue and your lunch break was over half an hour ago. Then, when you get home, you pick on your kids because they haven’t done their homework and get into a fight with your spouse because he’s not sympathetic enough when you start bitching about what a crap day you had.
All those people who you acted negatively towards during the course of the day, will in turn feel very wronged and injured and will proceed to take it out on the people whose paths cross theirs. Then those people will take it out on other people. And lo and behold, you have just spread a tsunami of low-grade negativity over the whole city in just one day. Happy now? Who can you blame it on? The neighbour? The neighbour’s wife?
The wave can stop with you. Only you can decide not to pass on the negativity to others by calming down, looking at the problem objectively and deciding that you are not going to allow it to turn your day into something brown and smelly.
You can do it – put a smile on that face and kill ‘em with kindness, charm and wit… and if you are having a rough day, just remind yourself that it takes thirty-six muscles to frown and none whatsoever to think to yourself “you’ll be dead from a heart attack in two years’ time, asshole”.
1. You get the benefit of skiving off work on Friday afternoons long after you’ve finished at mosque. Unless you work for a fellow Muslim, in which case, you’ll be lucky to get fifteen minutes.
2. You get to play practical Al-Qaeda jokes on the conservative old couple sitting next to you on the plane.
3. You can name your kid Osama and take him to the park, saying his name at least five times per minute. Have fun watching all the non-Muslims clear out.
4. If you go out in traditional Muslim clothing, you will always have plenty of personal space, no matter how busy your surroundings are.
5. You can invite a non-Muslim colleague from work to your house for supper and tell your mother / wife to make the curry diabolically hot.
6. If you send your toddler to a pre-school where there are lots of non-Muslims (especially teachers), teach him to scream at the top of his voice “Infidel!” When the teacher gets around to complaining, you can look all innocent, shake your head and say, “Haha! I just don’t know where he picks these silly things up!”
7. You can brush up on your Arabic alphabet and write all your work notes in your own Arabic secret code. Anybody that works with you will be totally screwed.
8. If one of your colleagues does something requiring disciplinary action, suggest at the next office meeting that he / she should be stoned in order to save his / her immortal soul. The looks you’ll get will be worth it.
9. Make friends with a Jewish person and then tell everyone at work one week that you are converting to Judaism, then the next week tell everyone that your friend is converting to Islam. Then send everyone an email announcing that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over.
10. Go to the office Christmas party and suggest that all the guys go to Teazers afterwards. When you arrive, pass all the strippers full-body burkas and ask them to put them on for the sake of your soul. Then ask for the Halaal menu.
Yesterday, while my seven-year-old daughter was at school, I decided I would write her a little letter to tell her I loved her and leave it on her pillow for when she came home. After completing the letter (along with a very badly-drawn pumpkin in it), I decided to fold it up in the shape of a heart. She would really like it if I did that, I thought, seeing as how she is such a girly-girl.
Then the realisation struck: I had lost the ability to fold pieces of paper into hearts! Calamity! This is the slippery slope to old age, people, the slippery slope!
This made me think back to my high school days – yes, this was before the age of the cell phone, and yes, I really am that old, shhh! – when my friends and I used to write letters to one another, seemingly incessantly, then fold them up in our own unique ways and give them to one another, usually in the mornings before we all went to our separate classes or just before it was time to go home (that’s what Accounting was for - don’t you judge me!)
So I thought to myself, I should go into my little shoebox and go through the letters to see if there was a heart-shaped one there, and this would perhaps help me veer away from the seemingly-inexorable path I am travelling on towards Alzheimer’s.
I didn’t find any heart-shaped letters, but I did end up going through the lot and reading some of them. I laughed hysterically at most of them. I have always picked my friends on the basis of their kookiness. They have never, ever disappointed me on that level.
There were a few letters I opened that brought back some awful memories. Adolescence – it’s awkward, there are pimples and you mostly crave death. All the time. Mental note: have daughter induced into a coma from the age of 13 to around about 25. That should do it.
I thought I’d post a picture of some of the most interestingly-folded letters. Most of them are from Michelle. Coincidence? (Click on the images to enlarge)