Digital Slob

Curt Brandao

Respectables, we don’t
need to see your DVD

As any Digital Slob -- sitting alone at home in his underwear with a mostly empty pizza box under his feet, surfing the Net and waiting for the "American Idol" results show to finally get to the point at exactly 7:56 p.m. -- will tell you, Respectable People are ruining the world.

But the next time your significant other shops at Old Navy so long you begin to think she's trying to earn squatter's rights, kill some time at a bookstore, and you'll see that pop culture insists the opposite is true -- Slobs are to blame for civilization's decay.

Wander over to the "self-help" section (which I always ask the clerk to help me find, which fails to elicit any sense of irony whatsoever) and you'll see it's basically a wall of gurus sporting cosmetic dental veneers insisting Slobs "get real" by shedding our birthrights.

How can Tony Robbins tell us we lack focus when we can play Grand Theft Auto 3 for 16 hours straight without blinking?

How can Dr. Phil say we're not concerned with making good first impressions when we Google our blind dates all the way back to their 8th-grade commendations as student-government parliamentarians?

How can Dr. Laura say we lack a moral firewall when the only deadly sins that can tempt us are the ones within arm's reach of our futon? Sure, Sloth's got us dead to rights, but we'll take six out of seven any day.

Still, Slobs have historically avoided these attacks on our character with our characteristic shrug, because nothing else has proven to have a better cost-to-benefit ratio -- that being none-to-none.

These one-sided struggles can pit brother against brother. If you'd asked Chris, one of my Respectable older siblings, what was wrong with me at age 14, he would've given you an exhaustive list, from cheating at tennis to eating the last three Twinkies while he was in the shower to sneezing without covering up.

If, however, you'd asked me what was wrong with him, I would've been stumped. Drawn a blank (but then, the sugar buzz from a Twinkie triple-dose can short-circuit the synapses).

After eons of turning the other cheek, however, we now have home field in the Digital Age, and it's time Slobs manufactured some "inner growth" propaganda bombs of our own.

But unlike Respectable People's legions of prophets, we only need one Slob to fill them with self-doubt, and I humbly volunteer (it was either this or play tennis -- and it's tough for me to find a partner, for some reason).

So beginning this week, we'll survey the "10 Stupid Things Respectable People Do to Mess Up the World."

10) Proactive lending: Whether they fall in love with "The Da Vinci Code" or some vaguely familiar DVD with the words "House," and "Sand" and "Fog" in the title, Respectable People believe they get no credit for experiencing something meaningful unless they hand it off as homework for some Slob.

Of course, it sinks into our household clutter faster than a "Tarzan" villain in quicksand. This explains why we often don't return borrowed entertainment until well after its format becomes obsolete. Many Slobs have extensive, if accidental, Betamax and Laserdisc collections, all overdue from at least three zip codes ago.

So stop telling us what to watch and read, Respectable People. If we want your advice, we'll wait until it's in the sale bin at Borders.

Next week: Schadenfreude gifting.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.
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Curt Brandao is the Star-Bulletin's production editor. Reach him at:


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