Yesterday I tweeted the scintillating fact that I had eaten a whole cauliflower for dinner (true), then sat back, looked at it staring me in the face, and considered deleting my Twitter account. Peppering my TweetDeck feed every so often amid witticisms and breakfast reports were disgusted and impassioned pleas to help the Kurds in Kobane.
Kobane, and the whole revolting mess in Syria, is very frequently on my mind these days. Sometimes I chime in about it on Twitter, inserting and then deleting #ISIS or #Kobane hashtags because I’m paranoid about Canadian #ISIS sympathizers trolling accounts—which of course makes me a coward. So I revert to tweeting about cauliflower. And while ingesting an entire cauliflower is indeed a feat (it was roasted) you know what I’m saying.
Tangentially perhaps, I’ve been thinking about our media habits of old. Like TV commercials, which we mostly suffered through impatiently as kids unless they featured toys we then knew we needed Santa to buy for us.
Here’s the thing: I have the fondest memories of some of them.
There was the Palmolive Dish Soap series that seemed to last for my whole childhood, the one where Madge came to the rescue of sad housewives with dishpan hands. I craved Madge, and I would have sat in front of her for days on end with my hands in soap if she would smile at me like that the whole time. With the twinkle in her eye. With those perfectly manicured nails. In real life, I quite regularly soaked my own hands in the green goodness, to no effect but whatever. Felt good.
Then there was Pert’s glorious Bouncin’ and Behavin’ hair campaign. The trampoline. The bodysuit. The bouncin’ AND the behavin.’ As the goddess models explained, both their problems were solved (the limp dirtiness and the dry frazzledness, both so annoying!). Man, I wanted that hair! To be her! To bounce so beautifully! My poor parents put up with a lot of whining about my desperate need for Pert in the grocery cart.
Thinking back on commercials like these, I have such memories of feeling safe and soothed, which is mostly what television is all about. But when I checked them out, both campaigns launched at the start of the 80s—the heyday of the Cold War. The Iran hostage ordeal had just ended. John Hinkley Jr. had just shot or was about to shoot Reagan. Those were scary times, too.
The difference is that we were watching TV for an hour or two to escape. Our shows were doing the job for us, and we lay down on our floors or couches with a bag of chips to enhance the soothing.
I don’t watch TV anymore. I read at night, and I oscillate between Facebook and Twitter in the day, where the serious, the sad, the funny, and the overly clever are all mashed together. I am nowhere near a couch, and my brain is always on, if ricocheting against a million inputs. And it’s confusing, figuring out how to be, how to think, how to feel about your cauliflower tweet in the midst of all of that.