Sunday, November 9, 2008

Maintaining a social life while broke

If you’re out of work, or about to be, there’s no better time to get your face out there and circulate. Not a pleasant prospect when you have stress induced cold sores, no clean clothes, haven’t showered in days and the two crowns you glued back in your mouth could fall out any minute because the Elmers isn’t holding. Understandably, you’re not feeling very sociable.
Buck up. There’s no better time in history to be broke, unpresentable and anti-social and still be viable socially and as an employee.

Think about it; with the internet, you can conduct all your significant relationships online, without any costly personal interaction.

Sure, proximity is nice. But face it, every time you leave your place of residence, be it hovel or storage container, it’ll cost you. Of course there’s the emotional toll of trying to look presentable. But the actual financial expense is what kills you. Last time I met a friend for coffee it cost me $76.00. Here’s the breakdown: hair dye 10.00, laundry 8.00, $40.00 for transportation ($5.00 for gas, $35 for the parking ticket); $15.00 for two coffees and a scone; $5.00 for the tiny tin of mints I couldn’t resist near the cash register; $12.00 for a box of godiva chocolates that were also on sale near the cash register -- 66% off, who can beat that? $4.00 for a copy of Allure magazine because it had an article about a miracle beauty treatment (the damn article was about sleep!!!), $75.00 for the pair of shoes in the window of the store next door to the coffee shop.

If you‘re in the mood for a little intelligent conversation and some sort of human connection without spending a cent, brew yourself a cup of Nescafe from the packet you stole from your parents’ hotel room when they were in town and let your fingers do the walking to There you can discuss the political implications of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe with like-minded intellectuals. Or try the AOL Middle East Affairs message board. You’d be amazed at the friendships you can forge arguing over who started 1967 war. No matter what your interest, Google is your new best friend.

To maintain your most important relationships, Facebook is a fabulous way to stay in touch with all your friends and family who won’t return your phone calls, but care enough to click a link. Imagine, without spending a cent on transportation, grooming, dining, drinking or even a phone call, you can be the first to know that Nick is bored with his job, Al has hemorrhoids (note to self, go to e-cards for appropriate, thoughtful condolence message), lots of people have cute babies and Mike is obviously having a mid-life crisis judging by his excessive use of emoticons. Imagine how much it would have cost to continue this kind of close interaction before the Internet? It would have been impossible.

Or say you’re in the market for a significant other. A few years ago, you would have had to spend countless dollars on grooming, transportation and blender drinks in order to find your soul mate. Now you can find true love on one of the myriad dating sites on the net.

Sure, sooner or later you’ll have to go out and actually meet the object of your affection. But considering that most Internet relationships fail when the couple actually meets, prolonging the courtship for as long as possible makes Internet relationships a win/win/win proposition. Think of the money you’ll save on doctor bills and condoms. One note: beware of sites that have video applications—the last thing you want to worry about is having your true love see you.

So a moment of appreciation to Al Gore for inventing the internet. Thanks to him, as long as you have your 76 Facebook friends, dozens of winks on and your three fans on Huffington Post, you'll never be alone.

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