The advent of the internet makes possible, in mere seconds, what used to take days or even weeks. Disregard what this free exchange of high-speed data means for the world of medicine, politics, or science. The real magic of the internet is social media. And the real magic of social media is the fact that right now, at the touch of a button, I can learn what fucking salads all my fucking friends are eating around the world. As I’m sure you all can attest, it’s a rush that is hard to describe.
In the past, I had no choice but to suffer through the arduous and costly process of drafting long pleading letters, entreating my friends to send Polaroids of their salads via the postal service. The wait was agonizing. When the glacial parcel would eventually arrive, as satisfying as it was to voraciously tear apart the envelope and view those breathtaking images through misty eyes, I knew in my heart that the information was days old; that the greens on that plate were just ghosts. The real roughage had long been digested and the thrill was tainted.
We’ve come so far. We’ve seen technological leaps that are borderline scary. The handheld wireless devices that your average middle-schooler takes for granted today would have been considered wizardry only a couple generations ago.
My grandmother likes to remind me that in her time, when she needed to find out what salad her best friend, Ethel, was eating, she’d walk 10 miles to the Town Centre and “wire” a telegrammed GLI (Green Lettuce Inquiry). Ethel would then telegram a reply with a languid description of the ingredients. “The light is just dancing off the endives [STOP] Monet would blush at my radishes [STOP]…” And so on and so forth.
She laughs to recall how her mother used to have to travel by stagecoach on the Oregon Trail for days to the nearest city, under the protection of marshals. Assuming no one died from hostile Indians, typhoid or gum disease along the way, they would then commission a master illustrator to render the likeness of her friends’ salads.
Today, I have to pinch myself. Regardless of what’s going wrong in my personal life (or in the Middle East), I need only sign into my Facebook feed and BAM! Deb is having baby spinach with artichokes!
Am I dreaming? Nick’s eating a chicken Caesar on a balcony!
FUCK ME! Tom got an arugula spring mix with ricotta and candied pear? A spring mix? In autumn? Classic Tom. I mean, if anyone can pull that off…
So the next time you post an electrifying photo of your salad, just take a moment for the generations before us who lost their lives (and teeth) traveling the perilous Oregon Trail.