Monday, May 04, 2020

A Lesson from Fred Flintstone

When I was a kid, I LOVED cartoons. I would wake up at 6:30 on Saturday morning JUST to watch cartoons. In fact, my whole Saturday morning was arranged around a strict cartoon schedule that ran from 7 to 11 and culminated with a glorious 90-minute binge of the Smurfs.   

During the mid-1980s, TBS aired old Flintstones reruns in the afternoon. My daily routine during those years was to get home, get a snack (usually microwaved hot dogs), and head in to the family room to watch the Flintstones - two thirty minute episodes (that is, unless a Cubs game was on WGN, in which case I chose baseball over cartoons).  

I can say with fair certainty that I've seen every Flintstones episode multiple times. 

There's one in particular that I am constantly reminded of these days. In this episode, Pebbles has recently been born to Fred and Wilma. Fred, being a doting father, has fallen head over heels for his new baby. Intent on documenting her childhood, he immediately runs out to a store and buys a fancy new video camera. 

He proceeds to become obsessive about making home movies and showing them to everyone he can find. At first, it's all great. Barney and Betty and the others really enjoy coming over, hanging out with Fred and Wilma, and watching videos of cute little Pebbles. 

But, as usual, Fred doesn't know when to stop. The behavior continues, day in and day out. Barney and Betty begin to grow fed up with the non-stop barrage of Pebbles vids, even as Fred's obsession grows stronger. They begin avoiding him to keep from getting corralled into another home movie session. 

Then Fred really goes overboard and secretly plans to show Pebbles videos to all the members of the Water Buffalo Lodge. Telling them it's a "bathing beauty" video, the lodgers are naturally put out when it turns out to be videos of Pebbles in her baby pool. 

More zany cartoon drama ensues, before Fred finally learns his lesson and hangs up his video camera for good.  

Believe it or not, there is a point to retelling this plot from a 1960s cartoon. You probably already have an idea of where I'm going. I am constantly reminded of this episode by certain people on social media who don't seem to realize that no one wants to see a constant barrage of pictures of their kids/daily lives/vacations/dinners, etc. If the writers of this episode could see where society has gone, they'd turn over in their graves. We've got 100 million Fred Flintstones running around the country now, posting every photo and video in their camera roll to Instagram and Facebook. 

I'm obviously not gonna name names, but I've got several followers on Instagram who I swear to God post dozens of pictures of their kids every week. One of these people is worse than all the others. Since Friday, she has made 15 posts on Instagram (as of this hour), with a total of 29 pictures and 1 video. Among these are 3 pictures of wine glasses, two pictures of legs laying out in the sun, pictures of fire pits and backyard pools, and two dozen pictures of her kids and husband.

This is pretty much a normal three-day stretch for her. Not everyone is quite that bad, of course, but several others come pretty close. I've got one follower who I swear must post every picture in her camera roll when she goes on vacation. Each day it will be multiple posts of dozens of photos, including some that aren't even good pictures. It's obvious she's just going through her camera roll picture by picture and posting them all, so that we can enjoy her Disney or beach trip right alongside her. 

What, precisely, is going on in the minds of these Fred Flintstone wannabes? Why do they think their hundreds of Instagram contacts want to see ALL of those pictures? I get that maybe your mom might want to see the pics of her grandchildren, or your best girlfriend might want to see what you did on vacation. But you've got 700 followers! Why IN THE WORLD would you post all these pictures or think that ANYBODY wanted to see them? 

I realize the answer here is to just unfollow them. Like Barney and Betty, avoidance is the key. But these are friends and acquaintances of mine, and I like to see SOME pictures of them. I mean, that's why we follow people on Instagram in the first place, right? 

I guess I see this sort of thing as breaking the unwritten rules of society. Like Fred, who couldn't see that no one was as interested in his own kid and his own life as he was, some people just don't seem to realize that they and their kids aren't the center of everyone else's lives. Yes, there's such a thing as too much.