Family video hangouts gone awry

Thursday nights New York time / Friday mornings East Coast Australia time are when Chris and I get together with his parents and brother for our every-other-week catch-up since quarantine began. To be honest, it was a bit ironic to me that we were chatting this often given all of us have far less to do (and thus far less to discuss) than usual, but it was what his parents suggested given we all have more free time, so we agreed to it.

As events usually go, in the beginning, it was kind of fun because we didn’t talk this often at all. And then as time went on, they started to become more of an annoyance. It wasn’t something we really looked forward to and did more out of obligation (when I say “we,” I mean Chris and me. His mom obviously is loving all the time with her sons). The same topics would come up over and over again: are we getting laid off/pay cuts, what I am cooking, how are Chris’s mom’s eyes (she had eye surgery a few months ago), his brother indulging in talking about himself, his dad showing us some random box of crackers he recently bought, COVID-19, COVID-19, and COVID-19.

So Chris decided to be a bit melodramatic and say that since Australia has been slowly opening up and they can more or less go about their lives (minus international travel, which affects ALL of us given we all love travel) that this will be our last bi-weekly hangout, to which his parents and brother started a bit of an uproar. His brother fussing over this was particularly amusing to me given that he’s usually sullen and looking bored during every single call, doesn’t angle his camera so that we can see his face clearly (and I have a feeling he does this purposely to evoke a reaction from his mother), and doesn’t say much unless he’s talking about himself.

“But when it’s not COVID-19, you’re always so busy running around that you never make time to talk to us!”

“You barely share anything with us! We have no idea what you are normally up to!”

“What’s wrong with a family catch-up every two weeks?”

“That’s not that much to ask! Other families are talking every week!”

I didn’t really want to say anything or put in my own opinion about this until Chris’s brother insisted that every other family on the face of this planet was talking every week. Well, that’s just flat out not true, and to make a generalization like that is just plain stupid and not backed by any hard data at all other than one’s own circle of friends/family. When I brought this up, his brother’s comeback was, “My circle is bigger than yours, so it’s more representative!”

Ummmm, no. That’s not how data studies work. Just because you have a circle of influence and observe something about that group, regardless of its size, does NOT mean it is representative of the whole freaking world. That’s short-sighted and wreaks of “the world revolves around me, my experience, and my opinion.” This is actually the fallacy that most people fall into when they have some strongly held belief, including “I don’t see color,” “racism doesn’t exist,” “people would happily discuss race openly,” or “people in general aren’t sexist.” Because they do not perceive it or witness it, they then believe that said idea is not true.

I’m more amused by a statement like this because it’s not the first time Chris’s brother has tried to point out, “I have more friends than you, therefore…” It’s one of those things that he is clearly so proud about that he feels a need to constantly remind everyone, but on the flip side, it is likely something he is severely insecure about, as well. Why would I say this? Somehow, these types of statements do not include all the times he’s whined and whinged about his friends getting girlfriends or having babies and ignoring him, forgetting his birthday, or not committing to hanging out with him once quarantine had ended in Australia, yet publicly posting on social media that they were hanging out with other friends. Sure, you might have a lot of friends… but how good are they, really?

So the conclusion here is: no, not every family on earth is chatting every week. And no, the world does not revolve around you.

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