If you are on Facebook or Twitter, I am sure you saw the clip of Louis C. K. doing a riff on Conan about cell phones. He was apparently attempting to explain why he didn’t want his daughter to have one. What resulted was a soliloquy on sadness. Apparently, Louis feels that we are all sad inside. Ok. But then he went on to explain that this is the reason why we are all so attached to our cell phones and texting.
So far, nothing notable, right? But this little riff of his went VIRAL. People attributed him with the wisdom and eloquence of the great minds of the century. Oh, the comments! The retweets! The Facebook shares!
So I went back and watched it a couple more times, thinking that maybe I didn’t pay enough attention. But no, there he was, basically incoherent, talking about being sad in his car and listening to Bruce Springsteen howl on one of his songs.
Since I feel that I am much more cogent than this guy, whom everyone is crediting with genius, I will give this a go. Here is my take on sadness.
Are we all sad? Maybe. Life isn’t one big birthday party. I was sad all through High School, when I had not one single boyfriend, and I had to go to the prom with my girlfriend’s brother. I think just about every teenager is sad. Well, perhaps miserable would be a better word. There is so much angst. Peer pressure. Pimples. Drugs and alcohol. Sex and sexting. The bullies. As a matter of fact, if there is a teenager out there who isn’t miserable, I hesitate to speculate about the inside of that teen’s head. It just might be empty, however.
There is a lot of intrinsic sadness built into adult life, certainly. Many of us dislike our jobs. About 99 per cent of us don’t have enough money. We agonize about our futures and those of our children. But in between, we have romance if we are lucky, sex, babies, delicious cupcakes, and Candy Crush. So there is a lot to be happy about.
Are we saddest when we are alone in our cars, listening to CDs, as Louis C. K. maintains? Do we feel the need to howl along with The Boss? Well, no. Actually, many of us can’t wait to be alone in our cars, where no one can bother us, and where we can a)sing along with Mumford and Sons, b)do unspeakable things to our noses, c)call other drivers bastards, and d)pop our gum as much as we want to without fear of criticism. Certainly, I have never had a wave of despair overtake me on the way to the grocery store that would make me feel the need to send a text. Oh—explanation: apparently this is why we use our phones to send text messages all the time. According to Louis C. K., our existential emptiness is ameliorated by sending “Hi” to ten of our friends.
I do text a lot. But the reason I do it isn’t because I am sad. It is because my children will never answer their phones if I call them, but they will respond to a text message. So I tap out things like “Do you want your old letter jacket, or can I donate it to Goodwill?” or “Hey, you might want to send a thank you note for that vase your aunt sent you as a wedding gift three years ago.”
But here is what really makes me sad: the fact that millions of people think that Louis C. K. is eloquent.