It’s often overlooked, but Chinese New Year–or as it’s known in Mandarin, “New Year,” is an amazing holiday. I would hesitate to say it dwarfs American New Year–on the basis that everything American is by far and away the best version of anything (See: Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, PF Chang’s, and subsequently our version of childhood obesity) — but it’s darn close. Chinese New Year has envelopes full of money, rice wine, a crazy menagerie of animals and dragons, enough fireworks to film a Michael Bay-directed Rush Hour reboot, and no Carson Daly. Or as he’s known in Mandarin, “Putrid Eel Waste.”
In honor of this tremendous holiday, I’d like to offer my help in bringing some of the traditions of the Chinese New Year to the forefront of American culture. In particular: the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Sure we all know the animals (Tiger, Dragon, Rooster, Pig, I think there’s a ferret or a lemur in there somewhere too), but do we really know about their predictive powers? About what someone’s Chinese Zodiac Animal can say about them? No. No you don’t know. How horrible are you?
Let us take a look at the predictive powers of the Chinese Zodiac in relation to a modern medium all are familiar with: Facebook. And the awful people who populate it. Except you of course. You are awesome. Have I told you that lately?
Zodiac Animal: Snake
Traits: Romantic, Vain
Who they are on Facebook: “The Girl Who Can’t Stop Updating You on Her Romantic Life”
I’m just going to go ahead and call her “Kelemenni,” because there’s a 95% chance the one you know best is called “Kelly,” Emily,” or “Jenny.” And there’s also a 95% chance that her name could similarly sound like a terrorist, because for some reason she’s got improperly placed “I’s,” “E’s,” and weird consonants all over the place. (It’s Emily, not Emmelie. Kristen, not Crystyn. It’s America, not French Polynesia, people.)
Kelemenni is the girl on your mini-feed who just can’t help remind you that she is in a relationship. And not just by celebrating those important anniversaries and moments with a shout-out to her “boo,” Kelemenni celebrates everything. Like how her boyfriend got her her favorite ice cream to celebrate their 3 & 1/3 week anniversary. Well, not “got,” but more so “left her some.” Kelemenni chronicles every date, every fight, every song that reminds her of an emotion she had once while thinking about that movie she watched four months ago with her boyfriend.
The worst part: Kelemenni is not phased by breakups, divorces, or even failed sky-diving proposal deaths. When Kellemeni and her BF do split–and trust me, they will–Kelemenni will chronicle every moment of her single life, in reference and relation to her past love. Did you know brushing your teeth just feels different when you’re single? Because Kelemenni does. And she wants to share that with you. Well, until three weeks from now when she falls in love again.
Zodiac Animal: Horse
Traits: Cheerful, Popular
Who they are on Facebook: “That One Guy Who You Just Wish You Were”
Everyone has one of these friends. They’re probably not your best friend–as their level of awesometicity (It’s a word. No, you’re the idiot) is greatly superior to your own–but you know them. They’re a friend of a friend, an old co-worker, that guy you stalked for three years in college until you found out Face-Off was only an action movie, and not a documentary. Scientifically speaking, they’re just awesome. And on Facebook they are the freaking worst. They have perfect teeth, perfect hair, and once opened a bottle cap on their ridiculously shredded abdomen to give a drink to a homeless person.
And they would never brag about any of this–because they are of course the nicest person you’ve ever met–but on Facebook you just can’t ignore them. They are constantly going on amazing trips to places you have only seen in the backgrounds of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues. And of course it’s with a significant other who could appear in that magazine (or the female equivalent, which is… the Spring Linens Issue of Home and Garden Magazine? I don’t know anything about women), and they just happen to be absurdly happy in every photograph. They’ve also got a great job, a great apartment, and go to parties where the beers are served in glasses, not taped to their hands until they finish them. They only did that in college once, and finished both 40s in two minutes and 35 seconds. Because did I mention they are incredibly great at drinking? Because of course they are. They just rule. And someday, once the technology comes full circle, and Face-Off becomes a reality, you too will rule. Isn’t that right, RICK. I will become you! Oh God, where is the delete key on this thing…
Zodiac Animal: Goat
Traits: Pessimistic, First to complain about something
Who they are on Facebook: “Ms. Debbie Downer”
Debbie is just sad. Is it problems with her boyfriend? Is it difficulty in school? Fights at home? Constant fear of Feline AIDS? No. It’s life. Life just makes Debbie sad. But would Debbie like some help? Some advice, guidance, or counseling? Of course not. She just wants Facebook, and all of the people on it, to know she is sad. That’s why she posts quotes that make Emily Dickinson look like Carly Rae Jepsen. “Despair is my best friend.”
No, it’s not Debbie, you’re on Facebook, which means you have plenty of “actual” (okay, I’m using that word extremely lightly, bear with me) friends. Could they/we somehow help? Of course not. Debbie will just say she doesn’t want to talk, a logical conclusion she’s amazed you couldn’t reach when she POSTED A CRY FOR HELP ON A PUBLIC WEBSITE. “I feel accustomed to the pain that always surrounds me.” Oh really, Debbie? The pain that surrounds a middle-class white girl from Connecticut? Was the Jamba Juice out of wheat grass shots? Was there a puddle near your favorite parking spot at work?
Of course we will never know, because everything Debbie writes is about as cryptic as a clue from a National Treasure movie. It’s a cry for help, wrapped in a mystery, and served inside the husk of a Fiona Apple lyric from 1996. “I’ve done wrong and I want to suffer for my sins… but how do you heal a broken heart?” What? What does that even mean? Are you trying to tell us Lincoln’s gold is in Mount Rushmore?
Zodiac Animal: Monkey
Traits: Detailed, Good Memory
Who they are on Facebook: “TMI Timmy”
The person who just can’t. stop. detailing. EVERYTHING. To be fair, “Too Much Information” Timmy isn’t just on Facebook; he’s on Twitter, Spotify, Instagram, Evernote, Vine, Viddy, Zip-disk, still writes Pen Pals, and communicates to animals telepathically. All so that he can tell you he had two and a half eggs today. You probably don’t care about his breakfast on a Friday morning in February, but Timmy has chronicled every possible detail like it was the moon landing.
Some might even be impressed at his attention to detail, if it were actually an attention to detail. It’s an attention to inconsequence. To unimportance. Nobody cares that you’re doing your laundry, singing Beyonce while at the gym, or that you just finished the 4th page of the 3rd chapter of the 2nd Game Of Thrones book. Yet for some reason, we get to read about it. All day, every day. The only thing sadder than Timmy’s addiction to Facebook is that awful day when you realize you know more about him and his day then you do actual friends. Or family. Or yourself. Sometimes when you think about how it’s all come to this point, how you’re almost addicted to his addiction, you…oh, hold on. Timmy just checked into his bathroom on Foursquare. I’m going to need a minute.
Zodiac Animal: Rooster
Traits: Loner, Outspoken
Who they are on Facebook: “The Redneck Who Is Somehow on Your Facebook”
To be honest, I don’t know if “redneck” is the right word, but as it’s brief–and kind of just fun to say–I went with it. Facebook Redneck is an amalgamation (and of course if he’s reading this: “big ol’ ball o’ stuff”) of oddities (“weird things”). Somehow he’s managed to mingle his love for cars, guns, breasts, and old-timey ideas that would predate your grandma with a fondness for modern technology and social interaction.
He loves America, but definitely not all “Americans.” He loves cars, but only expresses that through calling Honda owners “Bravo-watching foreigners.” He loves freedom, and will strip every man, woman, and child of their basic human rights to protect it. He loves butts and boobs like a “Joe Everyman,” although when he talks about them on Facebook he sounds more like “Joe the uncle your mom never leaves you alone with.”
The biggest mystery, of course, is how he’s your Facebook friend, especially after you read his thoughts on the NBA. You should probably get rid of him, but he pops up ever so infrequently so you never go through with anything. Plus clicking on things on Facebook is hard. And in the end he’s just a harmless bigot who wants to be your friend in FrontierVille and Mafia Wars. He’s nothing like…
Zodiac Animal: Dog
Traits: Sharp Tongue, Hard on Others
Who they are on Facebook: “Angry Political Guy”
Facebook: the place where an outdated ranting redneck could be considered less annoying than a passionate liberal humanitarian–okay, well, maybe Facebook AND the greater portions of Southern and Middle America. “Angry Political Guy” is the definition of annoying. Sure his opinions are less “antiquated” or “vitriol” than our good old FB Redneck, but what he lacks in craziness, he more than makes up for in the tenacity and ferocity of his posting.
He has an opinion on everything: fracking for Oil, the Palestine Israel conflict, Iran, those plastic rings that choke dolphins, gay marriage, animal rights, the rights of gay animals to get married. He cares about everything. And more importantly, he wants you to care about everything he cares about too. That’s why he posted the newest details from his county legislator, started a facebook page on key issues, made a fan page and photo album to swell support, made an event for a rally, and then invited you to join.
Did we mention he lives over 800 miles away? Did we mention you can’t possibly affect the outcomes of any of the issues he cares so passionately about? Why would we mention that. Because of course you can prevent the Starbucks on Carbondale street in North Riverton from using two-ply cardboard on its hot cup holders. If you don’t see that, you’re just a sheep. And if you don’t help now, then what’s next? Well, global warming will kill all the polar bears, and terminator robots will rule the sky. That’s what. And it’s all your fault. If only you had commented on his post.
Zodiac Animal: Pig
Traits: Materialistic, Determined
Who they are on Facebook: “The Girl Who Can’t Stop Photographing Herself”
Will be quite honest, everyone ever takes a secret joy in padding their Facebook picture stats. There’s just something–as hollow as it may be–self-validating that comes from having more photos, more proof of a life lived. In this case, “The Girl Who Can’t Stop Photographing Herself” is the most validated person in the world. She has pictures of everything, or more specifically, of her doing everything. Changing in the morning–got to get that moment on film. Eating pizza–no way we can let that one go. On the train home from work–well that doesn’t happen everyday, let’s click, click, click that camera away. By herself, with her gal pals, night, day, in every painted novelty cut out, in front of every zoo animal, at every road sign that sounds like a dick joke, she’s tagged herself.
No moment is too trivial, no outfit too embarrassing, no self-shot too difficult. Her in the middle of four friends, all making funny faces, in the wind, at night, with fireworks in the background–she nails it like an expert sniper. Switch the camera to a friend’s phone, and take that same picture on top of the bus from Speed, she’ll still get it. Herself undoubtedly in the middle of the frame, and in focus. Even though her right forearm may look like Popeye, her talent is indeed impressive. If only it wasn’t wasted on capturing and posting her modeling every hat that she debated wearing for her trip to the dentist.
Zodiac Animal: Rat
Traits: Sneaky, Ambitious
Who they are on Facebook: “I Like Everything Guy”
I have to say, the animal pairing imagery on this one works quite well–just shortly ahead of “Self Photo Girl” being a pig. The “Guy Who Likes Everything” is one of the bottom feeders of Facebook, a weird creature who spends his time in the shadows nibbling on posts, photos, and undoubtedly small pieces of cheese in his apartment.
He doesn’t ever post much of his own–as what rat really needs to share anything? Unless of course they are crafted by Disney/Pixar, those rats live better and more interesting lives than most humans–he just shows up on other people’s pages. Did you go to the park, and tag a photo? He likes it. Did you send one of your mutual friends a link to an SNL clip? He likes that too. All in all he wouldn’t be so bad, except old Rattles here (sorry, I felt like he needed a Disney rat name now) never knows when to stop Liking This. Did you post on your cousin’s wall you’ll see him at Christmas? Rattles likes it. Wish your childhood friend–whom Rattles has never met–good luck on their deployment to Iraq? Nice move, man, cause Rattles likes it. Aunt passed away, and felt a need to put her in your status? Well Rattles sends his condolences, by of course saying that he “likes” the fact Martha died of congestive heart failure. Oh Rattles, you crazy scamp! What misadventures will you “like” next!
Zodiac Animal: Ox
Traits: Stubborn, Hot-Tempered
Who they are on Facebook: “Absurdly Detailed Work-Out Guy”
To put it simply, Ox is the reincarnated spirit of every awful jock in film from 1980 onward with a 2013 twist. Instead of a varsity letterman jacket, he has an affliction shirt with the sleeves cut off. Instead of crushing down beers at the big pep rally, he’s slamming back protein shakes at the gym lobby in between loud exhales that prove he just worked out. Instead of duct taping a nerd to his locker, he’s on a message board at pain&gain.com dismantling a dweeb for working out his biceps without doing super-sets.
In the last few months though, the Ox has multiplied on Facebook, much like, well the exact opposite of what has happened to actual Ox creatures in the real world. Cross-fit, and every Spartan-Mudder-Beast-Obstacle-Military-5k out there, have perpetuated an entirely new level of awful deuchoxery. Now not only do we get every detail of your workout, we get every detail of why it’s different, and superior, and will help you crush the competition in your 3.1 mile race. You don’t bench anymore; you do inverted rows off a TRX strap hanging from a fan set to high. You don’t run; you interval train on hills, while wearing a weighted backpack, and fighting two pumas to really hit your fast-twitch muscles. You don’t work out; you chronicle every detail in your spiritual and physical journey to achieve the perfection of the human form. One that Jenny is so gonna wanna freaking bang when she sees it come beach season. SUNS OUT GUNS OUT!
Zodiac Animal: Tiger
Traits: Caring, Thoughtful
Who they are on Facebook: “The World’s Greatest Mom”
Now as a single male, one without any children, I know it’s difficult for me to really comment on how amazing the miracle of life is. It’s undoubtedly one of the biggest moments of a person’s life, and without question deserves A LOT of chronicling and keepsaking–especially in those early years. I do believe there is a place for that though, and it’s called YOUR OWN HOME. I’m fine with pictures of a newborn, or first birthday, or even “Gerald just looked so cute today!”, but there must be a limit. Some moderation.
“World’s Greatest Facebook Mom” disagrees. In fact she disagreed even when she was “World’s Greatest Pregnant Lady.” She made sure you saw every photo of her unborn fetus, and of course from multiple angles. You sometimes don’t appreciate the x-ray of an unborn unless you see it from multiple vantage points. She kept you updated on every baby book read, every crib that “might be the one,” and was kind enough to let you know she was 4 centimeters dialated and about to crap out a watermelon. Because you definitely wanted to know that at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday when you’re eating lunch.
You hoped after the birth, and the onslaught of newborn photos, that eventually FB Mom would tire out. Or possibly want to spend some actual time with her child. But no. Then came the 1-week birthday, the 1-month, and of course the 1-week & 1-month birthday. There were the haikus about “mommy’s little angel,” the height and weight line graphs, and of course the commentary from the child themselves, as translated by Facebook Mom. Because “Tyler Really wanted to say how he loves eating carrots on a Monday!” First haircut, first birthday, first day of school, first time caught boning a chick in high school, you will hear about it all. And you can read it all too in their new book, The Real Growing Pains: What to expect when you’ve expected, and how to keep that new baby smell.
Zodiac Animal: Rabbit
Traits: Kind, Overly Sentimental
Who they are on Facebook: “The World’s Greatest Pet Owner.”
The only thing sadder than “World’s Greatest Facebook Mom”: “World’s Greatest Pet Owner,” henceforth known as Gary (as that’s most likely his name) just really makes you depressed. He shows all the same over the top love and commitment of his FB Mom counterpart, with none of the actual child. Instead Gary has a cat, or a dog, or a goldfish, or more than likely all of the above. And from “Pet Store” to “Crushed under his butt while he sat down for a rerun of NCIS,” you will know everything about Gary’s pets. What they look like? Check. What they ate today? Check. What they did today with Daddy (as of course by now they have become mentally registered as his family)? Double Check.
You’ll also get to hear about what old Rover thinks, and not just about his favorite chew toy, but about important matters, like the state of Middle Eastern Politics. Which for the record, he thinks is “ruff.” Mainly though, you’re going to hear about how much better a pet is than a child. Because pets always stick by you, care for you, and if they try and leave the nest you can just shackle them to a post and watch their spirit break. And who could ask for anything more? Not Gary, because he is OBVIOUSLY doing fine.
Zodiac Animal: Dragon
Traits: You have no idea
Who they are on Facebook: “The Person You Don’t Know How You Know”
Much like the dragon, the “How Do I Know You” person on Facebook is shrouded in mystery and confusion. The real impetus of which surrounds how the heck you know them. Their name sounds familiar, but for the life of you you don’t know why. Their profile pic is of a group of people, none of whom look even remotely familiar.
Cover photos are landscapes or celebrities, and the only pics they have are of family members. Or so you imagine, they could be a member of a really eclectic swingers club. Who knows? She’s got two mutual friends, but they’re no help either. One is a girl from college you threw up on, and the other is that kid from high school who set fire to his girlfriend’s car senior year. Probably not the two people you can reach out to for help, unless you think a car fire and some really vengeful yelling will jog your memory.
And even if you could ask them, would it help? Is that a real name? Are they just as lost as you? Where could you know her from?! Was it a friend of a friend from high school? One of those 300 people you friended before college and never talked to again? The girl who sat two desks behind you in driver’s ed and laughed at your joke? It’s really not a big deal, except she liked your last profile picture. The one of you shirtless, totally flexing your pecs. And now you just have to know. What if she’s your soul mate? What if you were meant to be? What if she is your “Great White Buffalo Dragon”? Screw it, get car fire guy. We’re officially in desperation mode here.