The Parisian attitude towards life really is a lot like this — riding on the Metro you could simply see the long-standing suffering in the looks on the Parisian faces, the men standing with their pointy-toed elf shoes that must have been killing their feet, and the women with their beautiful scarves and jackets who didn’t give the least hint how overly warm they actually were on the Metro, just suffering patiently even as I would bail out of my jacket or take off my scarf and stuff it in my bag or whatever. The exception to the ever-tolerant suffering attitude was the young lovers, who were really cute, but even then you could often see young couples arguing very dramatically with scorn on their faces.
Viedemerde.fr (VDM) is a French site devoted to the truth that life is suffering. Vie de merde means — well, use the Babel translator. In the French way, VDM is devoted to offering the truth of suffering as short, tight exemplary narratives that are classified by subject — Amour, Argent, Enfants, Sexe, Travail and my favorite, Unclassable.
Viedemerde often has a rueful or droll touch:
Today I brought my lingerie home from my boyfriend’s place and found some that did not belong to me.
Today I had a big argument with my girlfriend who accused me of being narcissistic. Leaving home, I decided to write a text message to get her to forgive me. Lapse or inattention? I signed off with “I love myself.”
When you post on VDM it is rated with a little benediction: “It’s true it’s a VDM, it’s confirmed.”
Since Americans wanted to celebrate the Buddha’s dark diagnosis of the human condition in their own language, FMyLife.com arose. FMyLifes are postcards from Delusionville, narratives of failed hope, more emo and histrionic than Viedemerde.
Sometimes FMyLife is a miscellany of simple complaints, but the ideal post depends on a mapping problem, an irretrievable misreading of a situation:
Today, I was waiting in the car while my mom went into a store to get beer. A few minutes later, some random guy was knocking on my window telling me to open the door. I started cursing him out, thinking I was getting attacked. Turns out he worked there and was putting the beer in the car.
Today, my brother came out to our family as being gay. My mother starting crying because “She wanted grandchildren.” I told her that I was planning on having children. She started crying harder.
Today, I was on the bus home and on the phone with my best friend discussing my sex life with this new guy I’m seeing. I was telling her all sorts of raunchy sex things we’ve done until someone taps my shoulder and says “I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate you saying this in public.” It was his mom.
The site is intended to prove and even relish the idea that the cards are against you and your life really is a soap opera.
FMLs are rated by clicking on the message, “I agree, your life is f***ed,” which is perhaps taken as empathy, or clicking on “You deserved that one.” FML provides a dose of despairing chaos in case that is what you need to tune your day, your job, your mind. You could say FML’s purpose is consolation by diagnosis — Things are out of whack, dude, which is the first noble truth of Buddhism.