I am tired of having my heart broken online.
That is not the statement of a jilted Match.com individual, for I have never explored Internet dating and therefore don't know what it's like to be dumped mid-chat or have a potential relationship snuffed out because the object of my cyber-affection unexpectedly logged off. (I don't know what happened. Our FaceTime session was going SO well!)
No, I'm referring to the never-ending barrage of videos, photos and blog posts that permeate my inbox or social media accounts daily, inviting me to click despite the generic warning: "What happens next is heartbreaking."
If you don't have friends who feel the need to inject your day with sadness, simply type that warning into Google. Within seconds you'll be blubbering over the heartbreaking capture of orca whales, plucked from their native captivity and bound for marine theme parks. Or watching the heartbreaking reaction of a toddler seeing her daddy, sans beard, for the first time. Not depressed enough? Read the heartbreaking letter some dude wrote to his ex-girlfriend Brooke, begging for another chance. Hey Brooke, if you're reading this, move on. You're too good for that guy, even if he did compose a whiny letter apologizing for all the girls he fooled around with while dating you.
Animals, more than humans, seem to be the subject of most web-generated heartbreak. "Stranger Takes Heartbreaking Photo at Animal Shelter" greeted me one morning when all I planned to do was wish an old friend a happy birthday via Facebook. Before long, I was immersed in the story of a San Bernardino man weeping outside his city-impounded dog's cage, unable to pay the fee to release him.
Then there was the series of photos under the headline, "This kitten was abandoned by its mother. What happened next broke my heart." I'm sure it did, but why share your misery with everyone? I don't need my heart broken by strangers; it's been done numerous times by people I thought I knew. Let's see, there was Pam in middle school, April in high school, Nancy in college and former Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman in the 2007 Super Bowl. Please do not send me any video of that game for, to this day, I cannot watch Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden's pick-six without feeling that familiar lump in my throat. Why, Rex, why?
Luckily for many of these stories, the heartbreak is followed by something heartwarming, providing you can pull it together long enough to keep scrolling through the web page or watch the video in its entirety. Pet lovers banded together and donated money for the San Bernardino dog's release. The little girl stopped crying and realized dad is still dad even without the ZZ Top look. The abandoned kitten was befriended by a golden retriever and now the two eat, sleep and play together.
There is even a website, hrtwarming.com, loaded with feel good stories guaranteed to make you forget about Brooke's ex and the orca whales who are now turning tricks for Sea World patrons. Note to whoever created the website: The domain "heartwarming.com" is available. As a journalist, your penchant for misspelling truly breaks my heart.
I spent a few minutes on the site, watching how puppies reacted to a lullaby and marveling at a fish who likes to be petted. This, despite the fact that the man petting the fish keeps removing it from the water. If the fish slipped from his grasp and drew its final breath on the dock, guess what that would be?
My first on line stop in the morning is usually CNN.com, a site filled with plenty of heartbreak as I scroll through stories about the Mideast, school bullying and Jennifer Aniston's love life. Hrtwarming.com may have to be the second. Or I could just join the ever growing ranks of those wishing to spread melancholy by posting a heartbreaking story of my own -- possibly with photos -- and hoping it goes viral. In fact, I've already started composing:
Dear Nancy: Remember me?
(c) 2014 GREG SCHWEM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC