The Need For Adversity

Sometimes when I walk into my comic book store, I’m asked if I have a ‘pull list’ with them. For those who are unaware, a pull list is a list of comics you want set aside so you can just pick them up when you arrive. Now I see the logic behind this. People want to come in, get their stuff and go. That’s fine and if that’s your thing, God bless. As for me, I usually turn down the offer. I tell them I like the hunt, and I do. I love to search through the titles and find my prey. Sometimes I even discover something new or find something unexpected. The randomness o f the unknown is too much of a temptation for me.

This got me to thinking about society in general. When I was growing up, we had to wait until the next week to see the following episode of our favorite shows. Now we can binge the entire season in an afternoon. We would have to wait days, sometimes weeks, for items we ordered through a catalog. Now you get your Amazon order the next day. Same day in some cases. We have grown to resenting a wait. We’re always looking for ways to make things come faster. We want it now and we want it perfect. Why the rush? What happened to the joy of anticipation? I know it seems like torture to have to wait, but that’s when you truly savor the experience and that makes getting what you want even sweeter and more fulfilling. Being able to get whatever you want on demand is like empty calories and the satisfaction fades away so quickly.

I think, as a species, we require adversity. We honestly crave it and by trying to eliminate it, we’re losing a basic part of ourselves and I also see how this can affect the real world. Look at what eBooks have done. It’s easier, cheaper and faster to buy a digital book, but where have all the bookstores gone? I don’t see any new ones opening. Those jobs are gone and are never coming back. I’m not saying digital books are alone to blame, but you can’t say they weren’t a component of the situation. I mean, look at the music industry. Now that we can buy music digitally, music stores have gone extinct as well. Even some stores l like Best Buy and Target are shrinking their music selections or eliminating them all together. We need to be challenged, even in these urban environs. Our hunting instinct still exists, but it has no outlet. I think that’s why some people are ‘shoppers’. They enjoy the hunt, but instead of food, they’re hunting for bargains. I believe this because I know when I am out for something, I will not stop until I get it. I have spent entire days tracking down my treasures not intending to go to such lengths. It’s a drive in me that goes beyond rational thought. It’s instinct. A hunger for some kind of satisfaction and when I find my ‘prey’ I am happy. I feel as though I have accomplished something. I’ve been know to collect those Pop Vinyl figures and while I do purchase many of them online, there are times I go out and seek out some of the harder to find ones and when I do find them, the satisfaction is noticeably higher for me. I could have stayed home and ordered them online, but being out in the world and finding it myself was a  much richer experience. Quicker and faster is not exactly better. I know many would disagree, but it’s true.

Picture a world where everything is yours the second you want it. You don’t have to wait until that new movie comes out, you can just watch it online now. You can shop for your groceries online and have them delivered. You don’t have to wait for anything or go out for any reason. You get to just sit on your ass all day long while people bring you things and you download whatever you want online. This is not how we were designed to live. I’m not saying innovation is evil, but I think it needs to be restrained. It may seem archaic in some cases, but I don’t think we should be trying to make EVERYTHING so easy. We have to work for it a little bit. Someday we’ll have robots making all of our cars, serving us food and movie theaters will be a thing of the past, and that will pretty much deep six the entire entertainment industry, believe me, it will. All we’ll be left with is YouTube videos and whatever homemade crap people are still uploading. I don’t know about you, but I see the way things are going and I don’t want it. I long for the days before the internet and before same day delivery. I honestly believe having to wait and learning to be patient made better people. Kids are now growing up in a world where they get what they want right away and look at them. Over-privileged douchebags who spend their days developing apps so they can sell them to Google for a billion dollars before they graduate high school. Life is getting so mushed up and warped around. We’re losing the foundation and it’s all falling apart.

I know this isn’t going to change anything, but hopefully if someone actually reads this, they’ll at least walk away with something to think about.

Final Thoughts For 2016

The end at last. 2016 has been arguably the worst year in recent memory. Gauged by how much bad stuff went down. We had over 100 celebrity deaths and lost many icons. We acquired a bridge troll for President. We’ve had terrorist attacks and mass shootings left and right while our governing body chose to instead deal with gender bathroom issues. That’s just the public stuff. I won’t even go into the personal stuff. Needless to say, I haven’t had many good years, but 2016 is still managing to stand out as one of the worst.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why 2016 was so terrible, and I came to a theory that seems to make sense to me. Now I only speak of this as a theory. Think for  a moment that this bad year is totally on us. The concept of getting what you give seems to be a true universal law. It makes sense. You give good, you get good just as if you give bad, you get bad. Has anyone wondered if we’re just giving out too much bad? Culturally, I seem to notice a subtle trend. Pride in being an asshole. So many people take such pride in being obnoxious and rude. They say they are just being honest and speaking their mind. They angle it to make themselves look almost noble for being a terrible person. This isn’t a sudden trend. We can see how this has been brewing for some time. I think the clearest indicator of this is television. Think for a moment about the current TV  landscape. So many shows on the air today seem to celebrate being the worst person you can be. We’ve created a culture that looks at awful people as some kind of anti-heroes in our society and because of that they are worshiped and admired while people who stay on the side of the angels are looked upon as weak and boring. People too afraid to offend someone, but I wonder what is so wrong with not wanting to offend everyone? Can you not still communicate your point of view without offending someone? What’s wrong with showing other people respect? I don’t want to censor people, but I don’t know why considering the feelings of others is so terrible. You can think whatever you like, but it pays to be diplomatic.

I think this started at about the time of Married With Children and Rosanne. These shows and many like them showed the characters as we really are instead of how we wished we could be and that was great; but somewhere we crossed a line and instead of telling the truth, they started to create another level of society. There came more shows showing the characters acting ‘real’ but as they got worse, our society got worse. Now shows that fully embrace the worst of everything are runaway hits. Case in point: Game of Thrones. I’ve read and seen enough to know that there are virtually no redeemable characters in the GOT world. The people, I suppose, act as the writers would assume anyone would act in their positions. Kings screwing around all the time and siring legions of bastard children. People who kill, rape and steal and looked upon as heroes for doing so. Shows that make awful, amoral people the heroes of their stories.

Maybe the time is coming that we should look into celebrating what’s positive about our world. Revealing that being good doesn’t mean you’re some boring, naive simpleton. Trying to be a good person isn’t being naive. There is good in this world. We just simply choose to ignore it because it isn’t as much fun as negativity. It’s more fun to tear down than to build up. There was a time when our culture was a bit more moral positive, and in those days people were better. More polite and just nicer as a whole. It isn’t just that we celebrate bad behavior, but we also stigmatize good behavior. We label so-called ‘do-gooders’ as lame or boring. we created a narrative that those who work with the rules are bland and overly sensitive, not wishing to hurt anyone’s feelings in some hope of being accepted. I just wonder why this has become the case. What is wrong with being nice? More people should be nice. Maybe if more people were nice, this past year would not have sucked so hard. We’re creating a world where we are expecting everyone to be a bastard and by expecting them to be bad, we behave badly as well.  Maybe we should start expecting the best, because usually whatever you expect of other people is what you get.

I leave you with this for the coming year. Try and swim upstream and be nice and think of others over yourself. Take a moment to realize you aren’t the only person on Earth. Don’t be afraid to consider others first, because it doesn’t make you weak, but rather it strengthens us all. The power to have a great 2017 is within us. To quote the wise Jerry Spring, please be good to yourselves, and each other. Make 2017 the best year yet!

Happy new year!