Modern Afflictions

I am forty-three years old and therefore in a phase of life when one of my pastimes is noticing how things are different for me now. There are the gray hairs, the mystery aches, the grunts I make when sitting down on or standing up from the couch. There are the thoughts that unwittingly go through my head, which include a whole lot of “when I was young” and the occasional “in my day.” There are more, I won’t bore you with them. That is for another day when I can’t think of anything else to write.

However, of all the “you know you’re getting old” observations, knowing full well that if I’d lived at another time in history I would be on my way out or dead is a pretty big one. If I were born in, say, the year 1000, I would have probably died a few years ago of some sort of pox and been mourned at my funeral by my wife, my six children, and twenty three grandchildren. I’d have probably welcomed death after a lifetime of working in fields, suffering invasions, and dealing with pestilence and tyrannical feudal lords, all while my witty one-liners flew over the heads of the peasant family next door.

While that may have been the lot for one of my (underappreciated comic genius) ancestors, it’s not mine. And while I am very grateful to live in a time and a place where that is not a reality, it’s not like we don’t have physical troubles to suffer. Here are some.

Text Neck

Yes, text neck is exactly what you think it is. You spend all day looking down into a phone and pretty soon your neck and spine decide they’re going to treat you to this generation’s Carpal Tunnel.

Fitbit Wrist

If you are of the Fitbit Brethren, then you understand. One of the features of a Fitbit is that it’s also a watch, but the drawback is that you can’t see the clock unless it’s been activated. You can do this by pushing a button, but if you’re walking (because if you wear a Fitbit, you usually are walking to ensure not disappointing the Lord of 10,000) then you have to turn your wrist towards yourself and hope that it activates from the motion. It sometimes does, it sometimes doesn’t. If it doesn’t then you keep turning your wrist towards yourself in a snapping motion.

Or not. Maybe it’s just me.

Binge Shoulder

Whether you are streaming shows online or watching Amazon or Netflix, these days we have the distinction of being able to watch 39,493 hours of uninterrupted television. With all of that television and no need to get up and change the channel, tapes, or DVDs, you can stay in one position for an entire weekend. Binge Shoulder is the result. The effect is something like that of Quasimodo in the midst of a shrug constantly talking about the next season of Ozark.

Cringe Cheeks

If there’s one thing I’m sure of, our ancestors did not cringe as much as we do. They didn’t have The Office, Ricky Gervais, Ben Stiller, or every modern British comedy. Every time Michael Scott dances or every time Ben Stiller makes a sound or appears in front of a camera, we all cringe, which involved your cheeks sort of trying to meet the edges of your eyebrows. And which you just mimicked. After all that cringing, you feel like you’ve been at a granny cheek pinching contest.

Selfie Face

Do you remember when you were a kid and your mom told you not to make funny faces because it would get stuck like that one day? Right. As anyone who lives near young people with smartphones knows, they are obsessed with selfies and every time they do that, they make their selfie face. Some slightly open their mouths while gazing heatedly at the camera, others make a puckered, kissy lipped whoops, caught me eating my chia seaweed eggless Pho omelet sort of face. Experts in New York City and in the Southern California beach regions have reported that young people’s faces are getting stuck in their selfie face poses. This is soon to be an epidemic, because we all know that the world is shortly mimicking New York and California.

Selfies, it’s not just about a trend of disturbing self-obsession anymore.

So you see, though our ancestors had to deal with small pox and Spanish flu, they didn’t have Selfie Face and Cringe Cheeks. I’m just saying, I think they lucked out.

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