Forget about the supposed damage that texting and social networking have done to your people skills. There is a culprit in our midst that’s much more common and accessible than Facebook or Twitter – and it’s out for blood.
A thought sprang into my head the other night when I came home at 3 or 4 in the morning and was microwaving some pizza (leftover from Mama’s Pizzeria in case you were wondering – I don’t fall for that bougie La Casa ‘za). I was all by myself and totally smashed while snarfing down this miserable little slice of combo pizza, and this is when I noticed how truly isolated I was in my kitchen.
The sun had started to creep up and my parent’s coffee machine had begun it’s rhythmic dripping. I had drooled hungrily at this little slice of heaven in my sweaty palms, but for some reason I could no longer enjoy it – a pang of loneliness pierced my heart and my stomach.
My mother’s cats were staring at me, I could hear the rustling of my family preparing for their steady 9-5’s, and the Irish Car Bombs from earlier were starting to fist-pump in my stomach. I knew I had to retreat, but I didn’t do so until I had shoved the combo pizza in my mouth as dutifully and beautifully as possible. In a daze of confusion, satiation, and new found solitude, I slumped into bed and began to think about my microwave as the cultural culprit that it truly is.
I don’t think there’s anything that upsets me more than someone eating all by themselves. It’s the epitome of isolation and loneliness. In my opinion, it’s more emotionally draining than throwing a bucket of puppies into a river or shoving your friend into a bus. But that’s beside the point here.
People are supposed to eat together, and in huge groups with great quantities of food. If you’ve ever taken a history course or know anything about anything, you would probably know that primitive societies often ate in large groups with tons of munch. They made up all sorts of different excuses to throw giant dinner parties, just like when you made up all sorts of excuses in college to drink ubiquitous amounts of malt liquor with your friends.
But if you think about it historically, giant feasts were kind of the only option back then. When you had lots of dead animals or a bunch of fresh vegetation you had to eat it pretty quickly or it spoiled. When this is a reality, why not share your foodstuff with those around you? I think the general logic behind this was that everyone would usually return the favor.
But here we are in 2014, where eating has never been so selfish and single-minded. All of the evidence for this alarming trend can be found on Instagram, where selfish foodies reign supreme in their gluttonous orgy of self-servings and gourmet garbage. My reactions to these self-loving food snappers are usually the same: (a) Oh, that’s nice. I wonder who you paid to cook that, or (b) Oh, that’s nice. Thanks for inviting me to come break bread, you twerp.
But the thing is, nobody really gets together to eat anymore. We shove ourselves into corners, in front of microwaves, and over stoves. We cook using the same basic principles that were developed ages ago, but our methods of eating have changed dramatically. The food is always for you, not me. Microwaves have boxed in our food, and they have boxed us in as well. Their magic ability to heat foods with the press of a button is matched only by their power to turn us away from our neighbors.
The microwave oven arrived around the 1950’s, and goddamn did it revolutionize the world. Their utility is nearly unrivaled, and their ease of use is as addictive as it is charming. However, their damage to the social fabric of the world is totally unaccounted for, mainly in part because of pizza rolls and other easily-microwavable, mouth-burning, comfort foods.
There have been lots of technological innovations that have allowed us to eat in smaller, more confined quantities, but the microwave is the king of these beasts. In a world without refrigerators or microwave ovens, wouldn’t you be more inclined to invite your neighbors over for some food? I know there are alternative methods to preserve food, but wouldn’t it just be easier to let Bob and Linda from across the street come and eat some bean soup with you? Maybe they’ll invite you over for lasagna the next day…unless your bean soup sucks.
But, alas, the world has changed and I guess we can’t afford to share our food anymore. We may not have the time or the willingness, but I think everyone simply prefers to hit ‘reheat’.
Go ahead and kill your darlings. Your microwave is laughing because it doesn’t need friends. It knows you’ll come back again and again.
Potlucks may be our only chance,