family, Musing

Glurge and Human Emotion

I’m not sure of the true origin of the word glurge. I’m not even sure it’s a real word. I know that I first heard it used to describe the masses of emails that came with the early advent of the internet. Perhaps before the ‘net, it existed – I’m sure some did, since I can recall seeing bit of it that were bad photos or scans of newspaper clippings. The sort of stuff that was used as filler when the paper ran short on real content. The emails were usually badly formatted, forwarded over and over, and the content of them was rarely necessary or useful. Sure, some of it were bad jokes that might make you smile on a day you needed some cheer, but most of it was simply… glurge.

Social media makes it even easier to spread this stuff. Now it tends to come along with cutesy graphics. You know the sort of thing I mean: the pseudo inspiring sayings, the cute stories about whatever, the bad jokes. It’s part of the human condition, that these things appeal to us. I suspect that if we could sit down for a chat with the Lascaux cave painters, we’d learn some of the stuff on the walls in there was glurge. Humans haven’t changed that much. Sure, we’re more complex in our artwork and we have more time on our hands to perfect graphics and make sharing it easier than they did in the days of petroglyphs and clay tablets. But we still have that need for the illogical and purely emotional stuff that doesn’t fill any real need. Or does it?

Personally, I can’t remember any that really stuck with me. I remember getting a lot of it via email, and then with facebook it seems to have shifted from email to the timelines and chats. I patiently leave group chats all the time that are chain letters – that is a continuous link back to the era of pen and paper there, too. I usually ignore the exhortation to ‘share this with 23 other beautiful women to let them know they are loved!’ sort of private messages. I might love and appreciate the sender, but if I want to encourage a friend or family member, I am going to take a few minutes and give it some personal touch. Something makes me think that they will appreciate that a lot more than a click of a button and a canned graphic.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a friend who routinely shares kitty pics with me via email, and I love those. I’ve gotten to watch one of their cats grow from kitten to magnificent beast, and it makes me smile just to see the subject line pop up in my email inbox. That’s not glurge. That’s a note that means they were thinking of me, and know what makes me happy (it’s not hard, really. Kittens will always do it) so they sent me a little love. Once in a while I’ll get a brief message from a friend just checking to see how I am. That’s happy making. That’s worth taking the time out of my life to respond to.

I think what I find so annoying about the glurge is that it is meaningless. It’s designed to play with the emotions, but it’s empty. A hollow sham of the real thing. There’s no emotion in clicking the ‘share’ or the ‘forward to all contacts’ button. In a world that is spinning ever faster, it’s just visual clutter in a lonely life.

I think I’ll sit down with pen, paper, and envelopes a little later and make the opposite of glurge. Huh. I need a word for that, now.

Splurge? Nah. Although it does feel like indulging to spend time, real time, on my loved ones.

7 thoughts on “Glurge and Human Emotion

  1. Back in the early 1980s I was working in the medical records department of a hospital, and we used to get faxed glurge, mostly from other departments in the same hospital. My boss’s office was wallpapered in the stuff.

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