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Words and wisdom (maybe just words). You be the judge.

Beth Becomes You | Reddit Writing Prompt – 7

This Reddit writing prompt is from u/u/xarickprince

Your parents named you Death but people usually mishear it as Beth

People hear what they expect to hear. What they’re familiar with hearing. What they’d prefer to hear. Most people don’t hear that much at all in truth – the vast majority are not actually listening – they’re simply waiting to speak.

“What’s your name?”

“Death”

“Oh, Hi Beth”

It’s not just names either. It holds true across all spectrums.

“What do you do?”

“I’m a social media influenza”

“Cool. I’m on Instagram.”

And without me even asking they’re telling me their handles. Offering me their @‘s without a hint of hesitation

I spread through WhatsApp in the main. It’s easy. Far too easy. So many keen fingers out there – all feverishly forwarding the slightest of mild amusements – the least inkling of maybe-maverick comment. Everyone wants to be known as the funny one. The sage one. The insightful one. The inventive one. Everyone wants to be the first one to forward their last one received. Before they receive it again from another loose ‘friend.” Everyone wants to be the one that raised the smile. The initial instigator of the latest momentary entertainment. Even though (and they know it) they weren’t the actual content creator. There is always someone else who provided the prompt – someone they will never know – another name on another list – another grouped groupee on one of many a long group list. Death filed as Beth. Me.

It’s Human nature of course – we’re a species very much inclined to self-destruct. Well, naive enough to self-harm at least – Check, scroll and ‘wow! That’s tenuously amusing- now don’t hesitate – time matters – quick forward it as if it’s from me! Which it is even if it isn’t if you know what I mean? And you do. We all do.

And of course I say ‘we’ but I know that is somewhat disingenuous – I’m not part of the big we anymore. I had my time and that timed out quite some time ago. But there’s a part of me that still understands the collective we.

That still yearns for it.

Funny that – The whole social media frenzy I mean. Peculiar in its power. Think about it – surely everyone knows the sender is not the content creator. Rarely at least. It’s theft at best. Shameless piggybacking on the creativity of others. It’s understandable though, forgivable almost, because it’s simply another thing that’s craved by all – popularity. We can’t help it – we’re weak. Like this – like that – like me – please like me! Please! Look! I’ve sent a funny! Look! I’ve made a sage political point! Look! I’ve even posted a cute cat and two kittens for f**k’s sake! Come on! Like me! LIKE ME NOW!

That’s where I do differ of course. I’m kind of past caring. I’ve no desire to be liked. Not anymore. And I dislike all others. Now that I’m freed from the need. I suppose you could say I would say that but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Kind of at least.

“Ha! Beth becomes you!” is my latest witticism. It’s the last message seen at the end of the meme. Just before the virus infects the phone along with the hand that holds it. Then of course it’s the standard picture of Death with his hood, cloak and scythe as we slip to fade. He’s a traditionalist – very insistent on that image even though it’s hardly on trend. I’ve suggested re-branding on numerous occasions but he won’t have it. “Coca-Cola still say the Holidays are Coming every Christmas and no one argues with that. My message is just as recognisable, obvious and precise.” (He’s dour and grim even when he’s not reaping.)

Well, anyway, suffice to say like Santa I’m very much on my way. So, sip your mulled wine, devour your mince pies and scroll eagerly on the morning of the 25th. Enjoy the clip with the exotic elf and the reluctant reindeer. Be fast to forward the ingenious image of The Grinch engaged with The Snowman. Send all to one and all. So that I can joyfully reward you all.

It’s the one day I’m allowed you see. That was the deal. A sold soul for this once-yearly goal. I was so much like you. I wanted to be popular too. I craved the same skewed validation. I fought for self-worth from an iPhone handset. I was like you and now I’m liked by you. I’m liked and I’m shared. You don’t know me but that’s not the point. That’s not how this works. It never has been. We all know that. It’s why we shrug and declare “It is what it is.”

Now the day approaches, my race is on. I have targets in mind – numbers to beat – new records to achieve. I’ll be with you after the eggnog.

Who’ll be quickest on the keyboard – the first type to sneeze?

H. B. O’Neill is a London born writer inspired by the City and its myriad opportunity for comedy, pain, drama and adventure. He is a prize-winning poet and short story writer, a screenwriter, playwright and author.

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