A lot of people are throwing around the word “social” these days. And maybe in the old days too. I don’t know, I’m not old. I mean I’m just starting to gray, but only on my head and face. Not “downstairs.”
I digress. What the hell am I talking about, right? Not social media. I don’t mean that. Jesus, if I hear one more thing about social media, or the words “social media” again, or have to attend another social media conference, I will swallow it deep down, and never tell anybody. That’s what I like to do with things that bother me.
What I’m talking about is the word “social” as a prefix for a habitual vice, and what it means to people.
What it usually precedes is an activity that’s commonly considered to be distasteful to others. You know, the kind of thing you lie about to a person you just started dating.
“Oh, I drink, but I’m just a social drinker …”
“I smoke, but only socially. I’m a social smoker.”
“I’m into doing speedballs. Speedballs are when you mix heroin or morphine with cocaine, and then inject them into your body with a syringe. Notable deaths attributed to this concoction are those of: John Belushi, Chris Farley, Mitch Hedberg, King George V of the United Kingdom, GG Allin, Hillel Slovak and, perhaps most famously, River Phoenix. Anyway, I’m just a social speedballer.”
Some of these examples are worse than others (smoking is disgusting), but none of them are desirable traits in other people. So why is it so much better if you do them socially? In fact, that seems like the worst time to be doing these things.
Imagine telling someone other negative things about yourself using this format:
“I chew with my mouth wide open, but only socially.”
“I’m a social farter. I just fart at parties.”
“I like to kick dogs around a little bit. Makes me feel like a big man. Never during the week though; I only kick dogs socially.”
Again, these things come in varying degrees. The point is, qualifying your vices as “social” doesn’t make them better, it makes them worse. Socially is where other people no longer have the choice to ignore your problems. Part of growing up is learning how to fix this.
Another, bigger part of growing up is realizing you can’t ever change. But, using enhanced, grown-up logic, you can rationalize. Why, really, are these things so bad? Are they inherently bad? No such thing, if you think about it long enough. They’re bad because of how they make other people think or feel. So of course doing them socially is only going to exacerbate the problem …
… So do them secretly! Love smoking and drinking? Doing speedballs? Kicking dogs? Don’t do that shit at parties or out to dinner! Do it at home, with the shades drawn. Then, when someone asks you if you do these things, you can say “Yes! Privately!” Only, don’t say that out loud. Say it in your brain, while shaking your head back and forth and saying “Nuh-uh!” out loud, for all the world to hear, socially!
Then go home and be who you really are.