Friday, May 29, 2009

An old friend of mine recently texted me to say my Facebook profile pic (see right) was coming off "a bit creepy". This was the cyber equivalent of earnestly taking someone aside at a dinner party to politely inform them they are embarrassing themselves in mixed company. I replied that the pose I struck was quite deliberate, a form of performance art, really; a hyperbolic caricature that reflects what my urbane friends (mostly Canadians) think about Americans who cherish their 2nd Amendment freedoms. Bluntly, we're all insane zealots.

As expected, I’ve had more reaction to this nifty self-portrait than to anything I’ve ever posted on Facebook or written on this blog, including the time I wrote pseudonymously as an intelligent person trapped in a mongoloid’s body (this was way before Down Syndrome suddenly became all the rage after the Palin pick). The reactions were decidedly mixed. Some people were on to the spoof and laughed along. Some were mildly alarmed and jokingly questioned my sanity. Some said I likely torched any lingering aspirations for a political career. Some congratulated me on the purchase and wanted to go shooting with me. Some wondered why I would ever want a handgun in the first place because, "you know, guns kill people". Some, perhaps envisioning an imminent rampage, expressed concern for my family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Some chastised me to varying degrees, the most extreme of which I found quite hilarious. One person, with whom I have not spoken in nearly 20 years, added me as a Facebook friend for the express purpose of sending me a blistering private message. In a nutshell, they said they always knew deep down I was a disturbed individual destined for the electric chair, then immediately de-friended me.

Needless to say, the more absurdly over the top reactions were exactly what I had hoped for. Perhaps it’s a perverse pleasure, but I love drawing out the real loons that walk among us. The routines, banalities and courtesies of everyday life tend to obscure nuttiness. In general, that’s sort of a good thing; nuts are destabilizing entities that tend to provoke nutty reactions from the otherwise sane in return. Personally, I’d rather out the nuts and take my chances, if for nothing else but to know who to avoid. Thanks to my inspired self-portrait, I now know there are a couple of acquaintances I should maintain a safe distance from in case they once again become completely unhinged about something as trivial as a picture.