Thursday, January 5, 2012

Networking With The Gods

By John McDonnell

“It's a sad situation when you can't get anyone to worship you anymore,” Zeus said. “What's the world coming to, I'd like to know?”
“I don't know, Zeus,” said Ra. “Things just aren't the same.”
They were riding the subway in New York, and nobody was paying attention to them. Zeus fit right in, because his long hair and beard made him look like a street person. Ra was dressed like an ancient Egyptian, naked except for a loincloth, but the only attention he attracted was from a little boy who told his mother he wanted that costume for Halloween.
“It’s not fair, I tell you,” Zeus said. “I haven't had any serious worshippers in about 1500 years. Who’d have thought things could come to this?”
“How do you think I feel?” Ra said. “I used to be the highest of the Egyptian deities. Thousands of people worshipped me. They painted my picture on their pyramids, they made statues of me. I was the man back then. Now, nothing.”
“You went out of style ages ago,” Zeus snorted. “I took over in Egypt, remember?”
“Oh yeah? Well, how many pyramids do you have? How many statues?”
“I have some pretty impressive temples around the Mediterranean. And the statue of me in Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”
“Ancient is right,” Ra said. “It was destroyed centuries ago. The pyramid of Giza is still standing, my man.”
“Bah,” Zeus said. “I bet I get more tourists every year than you.”
“Tourists? We're arguing about tourists? We used to have followers who would sacrifice their first born children to us. Now we're counting up how many tour groups are snapping pictures in front of our broken-down temples.” 
Zeus shook his shaggy head. “Yeah, you're right. It's a shame what happened.”
“It was the Christians who did us in,” Ra said. “Who can compete with all that ‘salvation for everybody’ stuff? In my day we didn’t let the riffraff into the afterlife.”
“I don't get it,” Zeus said. “I never asked much from my followers. I certainly never made them follow a bunch of commandments.”
“No, but you slept with their wives, and you turned them into goats when you disagreed with them.”
“Well, I'm lord of the universe, aren't I?” Zeus thundered. “Don't I get to do what I want?”
“Buddy, that attitude is what got you in trouble. People don’t want their gods throwing hissy fits and nuking everything in sight. That doesn’t sell anymore.”
“Oh, and you handled things better? You had your people working thousands of slaves to death every year just to build temples to you, and look at your great monuments today! Nothing but a pile of stones in the desert.”
“Listen,” Ra said. “We can talk all day about what we made our followers do. Gods do crazy things. I mean, the guy in Mexico asked for child sacrifice from the Aztecs, and he didn't last more than a couple of centuries. The question is, what are we going to do about it now?”
“Do? What can we do?” Zeus said, moodily. “We're a couple of broken-down old gods that nobody believes in anymore. We have no power, no influence.”
“Come on, don't give up so easily. There are some things we can do.”
“Like what?”
“Like social networking. We can get a Facebook page. A Twitter account. Google Plus, even.”
“And what will that do?”
“We'll get followers, dummy. It's simple. We just post some of our thoughts, some pictures (maybe you could comb your hair and trim your beard, make yourself look presentable), and people will start to friend us. The key is to be interesting.”
“Yes. That means no complaining about the last 2000 years, okay? No bitching about how Jesus stole all your followers. No threatening to throw thunderbolts, or wipe out whole cities. And no coming on to the women, okay? You'll ruin things if you do that.”
Zeus thought it over. “Okay, I guess you're right. But you have to promise you won't post any pictures of mummies. I hate looking at mummies.”
“Fine, no mummies.”
So Zeus and Ra opened a Facebook account and started posting. They hooked up with some old friends online (except one or two gods whom Zeus had cuckolded a thousand years before, who didn't accept his friend requests). Things were going well for awhile, and they got up to a few thousand followers. However, their account was shut down after Zeus repeatedly left lewd messages on attractive females’ walls and Ra tried to start a pyramid scheme.
You just can’t teach old gods new tricks.