29 January 2009

Socially-Acceptable Emotion

DISCLAIMER: This piece was written for a small collection of writers who meet weekly to discuss and workshop the art of prose, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. It is strictly satirical.

Download the .docx file here; I think the formatting adds a little something extra.
A Written Guide to Social Conduct Concerning Emotions
(An Excerpt of Draft #2) by A. Reeves

There is one, and only one, socially-acceptable emotion, and that is happiness. Everything else is permissible, but only under controlled, careful moderation (See Figure 1). All emotions can be classified under the following groups and should be handled accordingly: anger, grief, sadness, silliness, and happiness (default). A detailed list of sub-groups will be included at the conclusion of this report.

ANGER If your co-worker is a jerk , you may be angry for 72.5 hours or until you have attained a reasonable level of revenge , whichever comes first.

GRIEF The grieving period upon the loss of an immediate family member is exactly six months maximum, or up to ten months if the cause of death is any of the following: murder, suicide, accidental food poisoning, injury by an animal, or terrorist attack.

SADNESS A two-week time is allotted for emotions related to sadness, regardless of the cause: depression, disappointment, discouragement. Anyone expressing these emotions longer than 14 days are strongly encouraged to maintain the default (detailed below) and/or take necessary steps to achieving the default (also detailed below).

SILLINESS Concerning varying degrees of silliness, whether by immaturity or romance, persons under the age of twenty years and four months are permitted 24 hours of excessive, unrestrained nonsense per 1,128 hours (47 days) of the default. Persons above the age of 20.33 years may be silly for six minutes at a time, and only on special occasions: birthdays, government-recognized holidays not associated with a religion, and upon the announcement of upcoming engagements or grandchildren. During these times, silliness may only be expressed in the presence of members of the same sex. Silliness induced by romance is permitted for a female only among her closest friends, and only during the first ten days of the causal relationship. If she violates this rule, her friends are authorized to express verbally and in writing both their jealousy and/or annoyance. All persons who wear light-up sneakers or who are unable to dress themselves are excused from all codes regarding silliness.

HAPPINESS (DEFAULT) Now, the rules for the socially-acceptable emotion of happiness must be followed precisely if one desires (and one should) to avoid possible (and almost certain) consequences including but not limited to chastisement, judgment, shunning, ridicule, flogging, and (on the occasion of multiple offenses) the appropriate loss of appendages. Happiness shall be regarded as the default emotion. When not expressing (appropriately) any other emotion, all persons shall default not to indifference, but to happiness.

Happiness is generally characterized by an optimistic attitude, a smile, and a gentle tone of voice. Laughter is often a display of happiness; however, laughter is not neglected from this code of conduct. Persons must not allow laughter to be too loud or lengthy, at which time it shall be considered silliness (see above). If a person finds a situation or conversation to be humorous, he is permitted to laugh at a volume just slightly louder than the level of the surrounding environment. Any laughter slightly or very accurately resembling a donkey – or any other farm animal for that matter – is too boisterous a display of enjoyment and should be strongly discouraged. Circumstances deemed slightly funny by the observers shall be responded to with a quiet chuckle or silent smile.

The default emotion of happiness is actually quite simple; after all, it should come naturally. The monotony of everyday life is a source of abundant joy and contentment. The very state of living is a blessing, not a burden. Regardless of one’s situation, even if he believes he is experiencing great suffering, one must find happiness in the simple truth that there is always someone who has it worse.

NATURAL DISASTERS In the event of circumstances beyond the control of ordinary citizens (namely, natural disasters), it is to be expected that persons may experience a plethora of unanticipated emotions such as grief, sadness, and anger, upon which all rules may be disregarded for a period of two days, after which all persons must return to default.

FAILURE TO DEFAULT Any and all persons unable to successfully and consistently maintain a default state of happiness will be subject to any or all of the following possible strategies: individual therapy, group therapy, horticulture therapy, mood-stabilizing drugs (commonly for depression/ADHD), shock therapy, solitary confinement, or spiritual guidance counseling. Also, and most preferably, a person may choose to deny or stuff his emotions down and carefully portray a sense of the default (in such a manner that another person would not be able to distinguish this false default and a true default). All persons failing to maintain default and resorting to a suggested solution must be careful to never discuss emotions varying from default, as doing so is undoubtedly a sign of personal weakness and/or abnormality.

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