CSotD: Truths on the Funny Pages

Lemont confronts a harsh truth in today’s Candorville (WPWG) and not a bad introduction to Labor Day. To put a positive swing on it, you might say that no matter how much you define yourself by what you do for a living, your friends in the real world see only your off-duty persona.

Which is probably a good thing if your job involves a spatula and a paper hat or some such, but if you take a job solely to pay the rent, it’s important to define yourself by something in your off-work life.

Which leaves the starving artist in an awkward position, since nobody would much care how many burgers he flipped while paying the rent, but they’d also be indifferent to whatever he was painting in his garret.

If he’s sufficiently focused on his paintings and otherwise tied up at the burger place, he probably doesn’t have any real world friends, so I guess it works out.

I’m sympathetic that, if you have a Susan in your life, you should be able to count on her to put a little more effort into the friendship. But one of the appeals of Candorville is that Lemont and Susan get to actually have those conversations which we only wish we could.

Different Susan, different point of view: In today’s Between Friends (KFS), we see Susan freeing herself from all the obligations that come along with currying friendship and approval. Note that, while in Candorville Lemont is forever young, the main characters in Between Friends grapple with middle age.

I was in my middle-fifties when I realized I didn’t much like parties and didn’t have to go to them and it’s fitting indeed to be having this conversation Labor Day Weekend, because back in the days when holidays mattered and management gave a damn about morale, this was a common time for the dreaded Corporate Prom where we’d all dress up and pretend to be real friends over rubber chicken and an open bar.

To be sure, it’s not clear to me if my revelation had to do with rising to middle age or rising to middle management, but I came to the conclusion that the proper way to handle Mandatory Fun was to show up, have one drink, be seen by your boss and say hello to the people in your department and then bug out.

Susan simply broadens the insight by learning to recognize how very few things are actually mandatory.

The dog in this Frank Cotham New Yorker cartoon needs to learn the art of going stir crazy, since one of the few bits of Mandatory Fun in my life is taking the dog to the park at least once, and often twice, a day.

It was one of the prime elements in motivating me to get from the walker to the cane after my hip replacement because a month of sitting around wasn’t good for either of us but it made her particularly obnoxious, in a more frantically joyful-over-nothing way than this woebegone hound.

My strong suspicion is that these two slugs would never have gone to the effort required to rescue a dog in the first place and are probably more typical of the people whose dogs — if they’re lucky — end up in rescue, but that’s a serious rant and I’m not in the mood to pursue it.

Still on the topic of serious things I’m not sure I want to get into, this Royston cartoon from the Spectator made me laugh but touches on something that bugs me.

I thought maybe I was the only one who objected to trigger warnings but was hesitant to criticize them, but I recently read an article in the Atlantic aptly headlined “I was wrong about trigger warnings” by Jill Filipovic, a feminist who, despite having used them herself, now feels they are not only unnecessary but potentially harmful.

She sums up the problem concisely: “In giving greater weight to claims of individual hurt and victimization, have we inadvertently raised a generation that has fewer tools to manage hardship and transform adversity into agency?”

Filipovic backs this up by noting the increase not only in trigger warnings over dubious material, but in young people seeking mental health aid: It’s good, she agrees, that people who need help feel okay about getting it, but are we adding to the numbers by making them think they ought to need help in coping?

It came to a head earlier this week when a shooting occurred at the University of North Carolina which, a decade or two ago, might have been treated as an isolated personal quarrel settled with a gun but which, now, required a three-hour campus lockdown.

Students not only freaked out in the resulting information vacuum, but the student paper is being praised for a Page One edition featuring their fear.

Clearly, the lockdown was the right choice, since the gunman might have shot other people in the course of making his escape, and if you tell people “Don’t freak out, it was a personal quarrel,” they might not take it seriously.

But if this is the “new normal” for our kids, we need them to deal with it and not assume that fear and panic and being triggered are also “normal.”

Normal should mean “Go inside, lock your door, wait for further information.”

I say this as someone who spent a fair amount of time in Colorado sitting on the basement stairs waiting for the tornado sirens to sound the all-clear.

Maybe I’m just not sensitive enough. Pearls Before Swine (AMS) is one of many sources decrying Twitter, and I join in thinking Elon Musk has royally screwed up a good thing, and not without serious damage to society.

But unless he’s serious about destroying the blocking feature, it will remain a useable forum. I’ve blocked him and a slew of other screwballs and hatemongers, and I’ve followed some very intelligent people and so the site still works for me.

And most of what I’ve found on the new, alternative sites have been repeats of things I already saw on Twitter.

Which I continue to call “Twitter” but I kept calling the musician “Prince,” too, and I’m not gonna let ol’ Muskie harsh my mellow.

5 thoughts on “CSotD: Truths on the Funny Pages

  1. I don’t understand why these “trigger warnings” happen when our TV shows depict such deliberate if fictional violence. I enjoy your newsletter, by the way, and hardly ever miss one.

  2. I would disagree with equating a literal “trigger warning” with content warnings. A content warning advises that a poster’s use of language or viewpoint might be upsetting for a given reader, given that reader’s sore spots. Yeah, they’re increasingly common and do feel like they go overboard in some forums. But an all-too-real trigger finger is something completely different — fear and panic are not overblown reactions, no matter how common the danger is now.

  3. That Prince analogy was perfect. Literally every article I’ve read lately uses “the site formerly known as Twitter” instead of X.

Comments are closed.