I have this little problem.
I simply have to know the whole story, especially how the story ends. I have a terrible time starting a book—or a movie or a TV show—and then not finishing it. Even if it stinks, I’m usually compelled to see it through.
Network television can be especially torturous, since they’re big on inserting teasers that are very effective on people like me.
I’ll be watching a show and as it goes to commercial, they’ll show a shot of a playground, empty swings backlit by a glowing mushroom cloud, and the announcer will say, “Experts are asking, ‘Is this the end of the world as we know it?’ Details at 11.” And I know I’m not moving from my chair until that teased segment comes on.
When 11 finally comes, they’ll keep me waiting even longer, with the newscasters mentioning the story again before each commercial break in a way that suggests we’re in for something juicy or scandalous or terrifying. But when they finally get to the segment, it never lives up to the hype. Instead, it will be something cutesy–a middle school student’s science fair project on end times or a quirky fortune cookie prediction or experts passing around a Magic 8 Ball.
And I’m left feeling cheated.
Equally frustrating for us have-to-know types are those mysterious posts on Facebook. People who put comments on their wall like, “Not sure what I’m going to do now!” or “I give up!” or “This is the last straw. I can’t take any more!”
I’ve learned the term for this is “vaguebooking.” According to the Urban Dictionary, vaguebooking is when someone makes an intentionally mysterious Facebook status update that prompts friends to inquire about what’s going on, or to worry if the person who posted is possibly crying out for help.
My friend Aimee Neely Figgatt has a better name for it. She calls it “pityfishing.”
The person who posts such things is clearly wanting attention, knowing the vagueness will make people wonder.
Much as I want to not take their bait, that kind of thing gnaws at me. My imagination will turn over possibilities and I’ll go to their page and read all around, trying to play detective so I can fill in the blanks.
It’s a frustrating quirk to have, one that leaves me twisted in knots. A few years back, I tried out a church that was closer to home than the one I’d been attending. The people at the new place were friendly, but the entire group shared the same maddening habit. I went to one of the evening study groups, which they started by asking if anyone wanted to add names to their prayer list. What followed went something like this.
“I’d like to add Ross to the list.”
“Oh yes. Ross! Isn’t that awful?”
“Dreadful. But not as bad as his brother.”
“No kidding. That was ugly. Vicious.”
“Should’ve gotten jail time for something like that.”
“Or his name in the Guinness Book of World Records.”
“But at least he still has all eight of his toes.”
“And one eyebrow.”
“Better than Phyllis.”
“Of yeah. Poor Phyllis. Prayers for Phyllis. Heard they successfully reattached her eyebrows, but I guarantee she’ll never breastfeed in public again.”
“That wasn’t even her baby.”
It was like the aural equivalent of enduring someone’s channel surfing, with them never staying on the same station long enough to get more than a fraction of the story.
I’ve finally found a way to use this problem of mine to my benefit. I’ve learned that if I arrive at the gym just a few minutes after the hour and start watching a television show while using one of the treadmills or stationary bikes, I will keep going for the rest of the hour to find out how the episode ends. The machines are designed to shut off if the user stops walking or riding, so I’m forced to keep moving.
I’m just careful to avoid network TV.
And steer clear of commercial-free mini-series.