I was at a wedding recently where the ring bearer was a robot. No, I’m not making fun of a girl’s Forrest Gump-like baby nephew. The Ring Bearer was a real honest-to-god happy-birthday-Paulie, clean-up-a-nerdy-fraternity-house-style, robot. The baby nephew? He was in his mother’s scornful arms. Her face effervescing hatred. A look that said “Instagram moment lost” and “I’m going to throw this baby at a robot” at the same time.
When the robot appeared you heard some laughs and mumbles amongst attendees. I immediately looked at the bride and groom. I wanted to see a pissed off bride and a groom with a remote control (really the only way this would be okay). But that wasn’t the case. They were beaming. Almost like this robot was a part of the family. Like their life was an actual episode of Small Wonder. My last look – the grandma. I needed her reaction. I needed to know if she knew this was coming. She didn’t. She turned to her left and right looking for an explanation. Why wasn’t her cute grandchild tumbling down the aisle? Who was controlling this thing? Did she die and the grim reaper was actually a robot? She probably wished that it was.
You’re saying, “Jtrain, it’s one wedding. It’s not like we’re letting robots get married.” I thought the same thing (Adam and Eve, not RingBot21 and Toaster, amirite?!), then I read an article this week called “The 6 Wackiest Wedding Trends.” And you’re not going to believe it, but robots are only the beginning. People are flying drones, bringing donkeys that hand you beers (a new friend maybe, but wedding worker?), and giving out headphones for personalized music playlists. That article wasn’t called “Look At These 6 Assholes.” It refers to these as trends, as in, recurring douchery. As in, your buddy might be riding an elephant down the aisle, and YOU’LL be the bad guy for comparing the act to his past relationships.
This didn’t just happen. It started small. A whole groom party would wear the same wacky cumberbun. The wedding party would do dance floor entrances where one guy would get way too into it as we all watched with that same “I guess this is fine” fake smile. Now, destination weddings are a real thing that we all just accept. My parents had been to one destination wedding and it was a friend’s third marriage at a time everyone had enough money to make the trip (money is something that people use for goods – it’s similar in value to an Instagram “like”). My first weddings had a sample of these things, and now every wedding is just a bunch of people in crazy ties on a tropical island trying to rehearse a line dance for that night’s YouTube videotaping.
The epidemic of “look at interesting me” keeps getting worse. The weddings are just the most vivid examples. We have to be different or interesting or better or unique and stopping myself from loudly scoffing is getting exhausting. My issue is the lack of self-awareness. If that robot came down the aisle with a flag that said, “USE #WELOVETHESMITHS SO WE CAN TREND!” then it would be fine. That’s them telling you exactly why they did the robot — to be remembered, and interesting, and different. Total ownership. But that’s not what happened.
Read that “Wacky Wedding Trends” article. The girl says she got the robot for the people who couldn’t attend — that friends at home could sign on and live-stream the whole event from the robot’s perspective. It takes real balls to make these acts of “look at me” into a gift for your friends. But this is the game that keeps getting played. Watch what happens when you’re invited to a destination wedding. You’ll have a friend try to convince you that this is your vacation as if you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to hit the beach with their aunt Kathy.
We’re a generation yearning to be interesting. One that’s constantly screaming, “Well I think!” at the first opportunity. A conversation with no regard for a response. I get that. Look at this column. I write it each week throwing a friend with a robot under the bus for a couple of “Nice Moves.” It’s fine. My problem isn’t with the act. It’s with the perpetuation of an illusion of selflessness. You got a robot because you thought it looked cool as hell, nothing more. You did it all for you. That’s okay. Just take one moment to acknowledge the absurdity of it all. Don’t get angry when I’m dancing with your robot (and live streaming grandpappy). Don’t text me about taking an Instagram down because a guy humping your wedding donkey is ruining the hashtag. And please make sure the robot at your second wedding is cheaper so you can get a band instead of a DJ..