Tried and failed: a story of two worlds

I can understand despair at the irrationality of humanity as a whole. I can get behind the mockery of hypocrites, scoundrels, and reality television fans. I can even laugh at offensive and disagreeable comedy—if it’s well-considered. What troubles me however, is poorly executed social commentary that amounts to little more than a formula along these lines:

[Shallow observation]. That’s stupid, huh?!

A few months ago, an anonymous Twitter account was created that described itself thusly: “In a town where we think we are a progressive city, but in reality we are idiots.”1 It was called @failfresno. The comment timeline included the typical tools of the anti-Fresno zeitgeist.

There’s nothing to do in Fresno. Someone got shot last night…only in Fresno! Anyone trying to do something interesting in Fresno is an idiot.

Pretty standard stuff. It was clearly presented as if the writer felt he was providing funny, incisive commentary. In fact, it was pretty banal crap.2

But I don’t want to put words in his mouth. I skimmed through and found what I think is the guy’s best joke (link added).3

Dear KMPH, Great Day could of be a decent show if this was still 1978.

Not quite up to “open mic night” standards, but if someone said that in a group of people, I might chuckle. The idea of Kopi doing his schtick in the 70s is kind of funny.

But that’s the cream of the crop, and it’s not too creamy. Most of the comments are along these lines:

RT @FresnoBeehive: Roe shooting a “fresno” eye for local nightlife // replaced black w/ Fresno

Tee-hee. He “replaced black w/ Fresno.” So now it says it was a “Fresno eye” not a “black eye.” Get it?

Or this:

Fresno…Evidence that there are no Earthquakes in Hell

Ooohh, because there was an earthquake somewhere other than Fresno. And Fresno is hell? Yes, I see now.

As you can see, pretty bargain basement stuff. @mikeoz and I and some others had some fun laughing at the guy on Twitter. @failfresno did his darnedest to offer a retort. One thing most everyone agreed on: the dude wasn’t funny.

Then today. For some reason there was an explosion of Twitter activity surrounding @failfresno and a few people actually came to his defense. Some even said that he was funny. People who actually knew the anonymous @failfresno claimed they enjoyed his comments. Unsurprisingly, these people also share @failfresno’s anti-Fresno attitude.

Either these people have very underdeveloped senses of humor, so that the mere act of complaining is considered comedy, or there was something else going on. I would submit that those who believe @failfresno is funny—or say it’s not supposed to be funny but simply provocative—are overlooking the shortcomings because they agree with the sentiment. It is along the lines of those who judge the humor of a political joke solely on the basis of whether its political slant reflects their own.4

The Twitter conversation that followed turned into a somewhat productive discussion on what was good or bad about Fresno compared to other cities, and how people viewed it (a discussion in which @failfresno did not participate).

But something else came to light about @failfresno. It’s something that has changed my whole view of the situation. It turns out the operator of the @failfresno account lives outside the area (presumably a former Fresnan). With this new revelation, the entire episode takes on a decidedly pathetic mood.

Here is someone who was bitter towards Fresno for some reason.5 Then this person finally gets their long-held dream of moving somewhere else. Somewhere, we presume, that fulfills their soul in ways Fresno never ever could. So what does this person do? Does he embrace his new, contented life, finally free from the bitterness that once ruled him? It seems he doesn’t. Whatever else he does, he also spends time monitoring the news of his old hometown (perhaps troubled that it doesn’t seem to miss him?) and then make comments about it, like, “So Foursquare is in Fresno? too bad everyone will check in Walmart or from their home cause all they do is just watch tv”. ZING!

You can imagine how this realization affected me. My scorn has turned to pity. Whatever compels this poor guy to maintain such an existence, I can only assume it has roots deeper than perhaps even he realizes.

As of now, I will no longer mock this poor little guy. Whatever the neuroses that manifests itself in this behavior, I hope for everyone concerned that he gets it sorted out.

Until then, all the goodness in me salutes all the goodness in you.

  1. Never mind that I don’t think anyone, supporter or opponent, would categorize Fresno as a “progressive city” without qualification. []
  2. In fact, when all is said and done, if I were him I’d argue that the whole deal was planned meta-commentary on how Fresno sucks so much that even its self-hating population can’t hate themselves properly. []
  3. All quotations are verbatim and sic. []
  4. I suppose this perspective is valid, although I would never be so beholden to an ideology. Comedy is my only mistress. []
  5. I’ll ignore for now the implications of singling out and blaming a city for one’s own discontent with life. []