I remember my 10th Christmas, it was 1998.  I thought about what the world would look like when I was thirty.   Would we have flying cars?  Would there be space stations near Mars?  In what ways would technology surpass mankind’s wildest dreams?  More specifically, would we have robots that would do our Saturday chores for us? These questions, and many more regarding putting off mandatory child labor laws set forth by my father, were those I was eager to discover the answers to.  I certainly wasn’t learning how to do the dishes or clean my room anytime soon.
It was with a heavy heart that I realized the future was a bit different.   Instead of all of those cool things regarding robots and converting my Ford Escort to fly on sky-highways, we got Social Media and filters that put dog ears on our heads.  Two indicators of social Darwinism.   This seems like just about the worst swap in swap history: chore-robots for social media.   That’s like trading a Merlin Series Premier League Slammer for a set of Bulwinkle caps.
That was a Pogs joke.  If you don’t get that reference, we couldn’t have been friends in the 90’s.  Consequentially, you were probably much cooler than me.
Sure, Social Media connects us, but sometimes 100% connectivity sucks.  I don’t want to see a video of your child smearing poop on the walls.  I don’t need read about how people are seeking “Recommendations” for Dog Tampons.  Your meme about that other political candidate isn’t that funny. Some things don’t need to be shared.
This future is more grim than I thought possible.  In 1998, my cat was into playful things: like murdering small rodents but not before prolonging their death so he could enjoy every tantalizing moment.  Sure, he’d hide under the bed and try to attack my sister’s feet, but he’d also torment our neighborhood punching bag by chasing him home every day.  That’s a unique joy with pet ownership that can’t be found anywhere else.  Somewhere out there, a man named Ian is still terrified of cats.
Button has had an interesting year.  She’s gotten into the harder stuff.  Corrupt things.  I caught her with a bag of catnip in February.  She had nothing to say when I asked her about it (she is a cat), but I imagine her excuse was that she was holding it for a friend and she’s never used the stuff, honest.  I tried looking for some books, there is plenty of literature on helping your kids with addiction or dealing with unruly teenagers — you know, useless stuff — but there’s nothing about drug addled cats.
More recently, I found a wad of cash in her litterbox.  She hid it there because she knew I’d never go sifting through all the poop.  Also, just as a general character flaw, I don’t clean the litterbox enough.  In her scratching post was a set of little baggies and a scale to weigh out what I can only imagine is more catnip.
It seems that Button, unfortunately, had a brief stint as a neighborhood drug lord, a regular feline Tony Montana.  I wondered why all the neighborhood cats were showing up at our house between 2am and 5am.  I often came home to find her half coherent, stumbling through the house chasing at shadows — with gold-tipped claws and a platinum grill on her canines — with the tell-tale dusting of catnip on her upper lip.  The only time Button stayed at home was on days I spotted a squad car posted out front.  The other day, when cleaning up my backyard, I found a racoon buried in a shallow grave.
She’s gone to rehab.  She was angry with me, even angrier when I took her out for her scheduled monthly off-sight venture only to put her in a small dress and place her in front of a green screen and start snapping photos.  Her cat-social-worker tells me she’s traumatized. Namely that one time I put her in a sweater vest and sent out 50 photos to all of my closest friends and family.  Apparently, what I do is “embarrassing” for her?  What could be embarrassing about putting on a mullet and taking photos with your cat?  I got the general feeling that she felt like the holidays were supposed to be about something else.
Doesn’t she understand that the holiday season isn’t about magic and family but obligations and enough spiked drinks to make all the family drama go away?  Doesn’t she know that this is the future not with Chore-Robots and Flying Geo Metros, but Social Media and selfies that enlarges your eyes and makes your voice sound like Alvin the Chipmunk?
She’ll get it soon enough.  Actually, if she doesn’t, it doesn’t really matter.  I’ll still put her in a tutu and cut a weird mustache.  Because, for me, that’s what the season is all about.
Nick + Button