Here’s a list of the things I considered writing about tonight:
- The transference of the need to find new things, to explore the world, into the mechanical safety of doing so in an online role-playing game, whether that’s poking around Skyrim or wandering across the continents of Wildstar.
- The anger I felt upon being accused of being a troll for posting, to my own Facebook account, a thought that perhaps Bud Light shouldn’t have backed down from its inadvertently rape-trigger ad campaign, “The perfect beer for removing ‘No’ from your vocabulary for the evening,” but instead should have doubled down on it so that people learned to properly associate drinking with some of the negative effects not commonly shown in advertising, much as cigarettes are forced to dull all their “cool” imagery with dire warnings.
- This brilliant quote from Ratatouille, and how glad I am that I don’t have to write about repetitive entertainment like John Wick:
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.
- Mark Grief’s 2006 suggestion in n+1 that “It makes most sense to have a president and vice president who will forswear wealth permanently. A man who rules for the demos need not come from the demos. But he ought to enter it; he ought to become one of the people he is responsible most for helping–that means the rest of us.” And in truth, while I don’t believe we should pay these people nothing, I think the person most qualified for a job like that is the person who is most willing to do it without seeking compensation. After all, as he elaborates elsewhere in the essay, “Our whole system is predicated on the erroneous idea that individuals are likely to hate the work they have chosen but overwhelming love money. Presumably the opposite should be true.” That said, I can think of a slew of jobs that nobody wants to do. So why don’t those pay better?
And then I realized they all had a common thread. Each idea rattling through my head involved trying something new. We’re a stagnant society, and as my Facebook debate reminded me about certain people, we’re often far too hasty to jump to the worst conclusions about anything new, which is probably why so many people stick to safe and sanitized watercooler conversations, whether that’s another “How about them Yankees” idle chat or an endlessly regurgitated set of political talking points.
I get it. Nobody wants to be the one responsible for screwing things up, so even when we agree that the overcomplicated tax code needs reform, or that the adversarial trial system is screwed up in that the client with the most money often wins (justice apparently not all that blind when it comes to money), we simply grin and bear it. We settle for half-measures, and then halve those measures, again and again, until President Obama has to crack a joke about his inability to actually get people to listen to the warnings about climate change. We’ve all already largely made up our minds, and at the least sign of resistance or disagreement, we double down and shut out opponents out, attacking their character as opposed to their ideas, lest we somehow find ourselves exposed to something new.
That’s not to say that there aren’t still people experimenting. But we should be defending them. We don’t have to agree with them, but we should at least listen. What’s the worst that could happen?