Resting Bitch Face is the norm now. People walk through life looking like the deli just made them a grilled cheese sandwich and didn't take the plastic wrapper off the cheese.
Social media is that plastic.
The other day, I was sitting on my front porch as butterflies fluttered by on the dahlias. One, two, five. Orange and black, like Monarchs, bobbing like marionettes on invisible strings. Do butterflies know their flights make us happy?
And then I flick through Twitter and Facebook, my face scrunches up like a used sock:
"Pot brownies maybe laced with fentanyl, a Hollywood dick stroked his Hollywood schlong in front of starlets, large men kneel during this country's favorite song and not because they're tired. "
Worse, my facebook "friends" post that if I'm not angry, I'm not paying attention, and since I hate to be a bad student, I scowl.
Again in my front yard, two kids show up with nets. They catch and keep the butterflies. A dad stands by. Family cohesion. Nature. Love. But who has time to watch that? There's bad news to read. I'm addicted to controversy. I cook mean tweets in a spoon and plunge them into my veins.
Then driving to work I began to listen to Rush Limbaugh, the pundit whose body is shaped like a pufferfish and whose words are just as poisonous. He'd badmouth a family reunion if the family were liberals.
And over the hood of my car flutter what look like tufts of cottonwood, but are in fact more butterflies. Thousands. Orange snowflakes. Never seen so many. Butterflies literally slow down traffic, but Rush confirms for me my belief that your life's not worth living unless you hate the appropriate people.
We're addicted to outrage. Misery loves Facebook. No day passes without some controversy, real or imagined, about deplorables or Democrats. I'm supposed to be mad about it. And I think this is part of Resting Bitch Face, explained.
If there was a news story about your personal life, on the other hand, it would actually be nice, and might have these opening paragraphs:
DENVER — A local man spent an afternoon healthy, well-fed and without pain while he typed on a machine that gives him access to all world knowledge and gives him the ability to purchase all known products and have them delivered to his door. He wasn't threatened by violence or death or even a light spanking.
Later, he went to his local neighborhood association meeting, where Brandon Rietheimer stood up to ask for support for having big buildings in Denver be forced to plant grass on thier roofs. Rietheimer got it on the ballot in November.
The heart warms to learn that Rietheimer isn't a politician or a paid nonprofiteer, he's just some dude. "People didn't want to talk to me at first because I'm just a citizen, I'm just a cook at Red Robin — excuse me, I just got a promotion, I'm a manager now," Rietheimer said.
The neighborhood association supported the Denver Green Roof Initiative unanimously, and a woman called him "the best of what this country has." There was no confetti, but it felt like there was. All of it was better than whatever was on Facebook.
And … about those inconsequential butterflies I waved away from my porch, that I rammed with my car. They weren't nothing.
They were big.
They showed up on international news.
"Butterfly swarm shows up on Denver radar system," reported the BBC. All those tiny bugs added up to something big enough that everyone could see it. And they have the picture to prove it.
It's uncommon for insects to become visible by weather instruments. But the swarm of Painted Ladies was a story of wonder.
And I had an international news story about immense beauty flittering through sunlight in my front yard … and I barely noticed.
Rietheimer's green roofs initiative is like a migrating butterfly. It will be eclipsed on your radar screen by hurricanes and smoke from California wildfires. But if you pay attention, all the small good stories add up, like migrating butterflies, into something you can see.
Life is not nasty, brutish and short. Your dorm room is not the Hanoi Hilton. Even here in bulldozed concrete parking-lot big city America, where people look nervous, agitated and put-out, the chickens are fed. The coffee shop's open. The homeless folks didn't steal anything today. And those outrageous kids have butterflies as pets now.
And I never once told them to get off my lawn.