It's easy to make fun of Cathy. She's a total mess, flipping out about everything from her diet to her mother to her swimsuit size. But this week, Cathy joined Facebook, and now I find myself on her side. ACK!
You see, crew, Cathy has finally fallen into the ol' technology trap, something the strip has been railing against for a few weeks now, with Cathy sighing not over boxes of chocolates or that bitchy saleswoman who seemingly lives to make Cathy hate herself at the swimwear shop, but over the way that technology has slowly crept into her life, making the personal impersonal, and creating a whole new set of problems to add to her already overloaded list. Her friends go off on vacations and send a billion digital photos; her co-workers talk more about the equipment they own than the lives they live with said equipment, and now, Facebook has come to ruin her life for good.
It started innocently enough, with an invitation from an old friend, as most of these things do. Cathy gets invited to Facebook, and she says yes. Little does she know that it's going to destroy her universe FOREVER. Oh, Cathy! When will you win?
Cathy soon learns, however, that Facebook will suck you in and spit you out like so many nasty women at swimsuit stores, luring you in with promises of good fun in the sun and then breaking your dreams in two with a harsh dose of "Who the hell are these random people and why are they bothering me about my life?" We've been there, too, Cathy. We shall ACK on your behalf.
Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but this strip struck me as incredibly sweet. Cathy is psyched to reconnect with her old friends, and is very excited when "Brenda" writes on her wall. It seems a bit corny, but it was nice to see Cathy get stoked about something that doesn't involve chocolate or her dog, Electra. The last panel is quite interesting as well: the concept of "auto-guilt," that Irving brings up is a true one—how often have you felt bad for not getting back to someone right away, or for missing/overlooking an email/IM/text? So often we bust on Cathy for feeling guilty about dumb things, but this strip felt painfully true. I actually had to step back and check myself after this one. Schooled by Cathy! I'll never be the same, crew.
Of course, with Cathy, the sense of "competitiveness" and the "Aacks!" are never far behind those moments of sweetness.
And now, naturally, Cathy's sense of self-worth goes right back to what she looks like; instead of worrying about her swimsuit, now she has to worry about her profile picture.
Today, Cathy's dogs have become concerned that perhaps she's not setting healthy boundaries re: her internet use. You know it's bad when Electra starts freaking out.
While I suspect this storyline will fade out over the next few weeks, I have to say that I find it pretty interesting and yes, a bit sweet. Cathy, who so often freaks out about her weight and her job, is now freaking out about her social networking life as well, something that I think most of us can relate to on some level. She's overwhelmed but excited, feeling competitive but flustered, and she's just trying to keep up with everyone else. Will she eventually devolve into a neurotic mess and throw her computer out the window? It's highly possible. But for once, I think we can cut Cathy a break and admit that in some ways, we see where she's coming from. So congrats, Cathy. Welcome to the internet. And remember, you can't spell Facebook without A-C-K.