They replace the true face of humanity. Pasted with a quick tap of a computer keyboard, they allegedly represent the state of emotional being of a person, at a given time, within a granted context, in the course of an interplay accomplished in diatribes of virtual reality. Contrast such antiseptic encounters with the profound agony felt in Anton Chekhov’s short story, “Grief” (or sometimes otherwise entitled, “Misery”), and one begins to comprehend the depths of distancing depravity that people have fallen to in an attempt to bifurcate humanity from personal contact.
Whether the emoticon truly represents the state of one’s psyche at the time of pasting the cartoonish face upon a screen, or it merely conceals an underlying turmoil otherwise safely hidden, is besides the point; the encounter of exponential removal is determined, and unlike the sadness felt by Iona Potapov in attempting to relate the story of his son’s death, it can be quickly posted, expediently dismissed, and immediately turned aside to engage a different topic altogether. But human history finds few factors new to the universe; the young always believe that human innovation and articulations of deceitful demarcations of denouements in the linear chains and linkages of human endeavors are only recently discovered, when in fact artifices built to conceal the true nature of a person’s state of being have always been constructed, for reasons left to guessing and implication. Individuals who suffer from medical conditions become adept at such masking. In Japan, the Noh players wear masks which reveal various emotions; yet, depending upon the angle of view, the lighting upon the mask, and the perspective of the audience, the emotion itself can be altered from scene to scene.
Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must daily conceal the authenticity of their state of turmoil, whether because of the lack of empathy by their agency, or because societal norms dictate the extinguishment of any open display of human states within the context of a workplace, know well the trauma of conflicting contradictions between the public face and the private reality.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS-Offset, is a viable option to consider when the cumulative impact of hiding one’s pain, concealing the daily turmoil, or overstepping one’s welcome has passed the pinnacle of surface meanings. There comes a point when work loses its meaning at the intersection of a medical condition impacting the value of health, family and future.
Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers have a choice in the matter; the option is to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and like pasting an emoticon as a farewell wave as one is departing the Federal or Postal sector, so the telling of one’s grieving story as Iona does to his horse, is the true framing of human value, where one’s worth is determined not by virtual reality, but the evocation of a touch of warmth in holding one’s hand.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire