Liking Stuff: You Can Help

Remember when the way to look cool was to be disinterested in everything, and cut everyone else’s achievements down?

“Nice backpack? Yeah, I guess so, for a nerd who still wears a backpack.”

“The Bangles? Yeah, I used to listen to them. But then I used to listen to Sesame Street, too. *scoff*”

I think it used to be called ‘high school’. And then we theoretically grew out of it; though some of us never played that game in the first place, which is cool, too.

No matter what it was, you couldn’t get excited about it. That would be…uncool.

A young dog sporting a set of hot pink saddlebags, and looking vaguely bored.

Oogie doesn’t care what you think of her backpack.
(Based on Oogie got a backpack, a photo by Karin Dalziel on Flickr)

Lately it seems like the internet is full of these poseurs.

  • “Oh, the new display with the highest resolution ever? That’s nice, I guess, if you want to stare at a screen all day.”
  • “You survived cancer, huh? Oh, but it was only stage 2, so, whatever.”
  • “300 horsepower? What is this, the 60s?”
  • “President? *Pfft*, like he has any power.”

Well, I’m tired of paying attention to mores and customs better suited to a pack of powerless, insecure kids with the emotional sensitivity of a stunted turnip. I’d rather pay attention to the rich audience of complex human beings that I know.

The problem is, it’s infectious. It’s simply easier to be dismissive. And it draws others in, cutting us off from each other until we bond only by how much we can belittle each other.

I’ve written about this before, and I’ll probably write about it again, the same way I’ll probably blog about food again, or mention how lovely the weather is on nights like tonight when the wind curls around the clouds at dusk and the air is just cool enough to allow for a really vigorous walk without the risk of a sweat.

Just like I’ll probably pull the “yeah, so, whatever” shenanigan at you some time in the future. Cause we’re all imperfect, and it’s such an alluring mode: makes you feel so powerful, so all-knowing, at the same time as you look so ridiculous to folks not caught up in the spiral of it.

So consider this a call to action. How do we defuse these bogged-down spirals of negativity? Some ideas–and here’s where You Can Help!

Because–let’s face it–the world is full of interesting stuff. And liking it is awesome.

A wood wall, completely covered in tools, gears, pulleys, and bottles.

There is cool stuff everywhere. The internet brings me a new batch every morning.
(Based on “The Wall Of Stuff”, a photo by Spencer Burrows on Flickr.)

First, I think, we resolve this behavior by not feeding it. It’s a form of trolling, and trolls only shrivel up when killed with fire starved of their sole food, attention. Simply disengage from conversations where someone’s done this. The downside is, that may be their goal: sabotage. If so, continuing the conversation while ignoring their contribution may also be a way to go–but you have to have everyone in the conversation on board.

Second may be confronting the problem: naming the behavior, rather than engaging on the content. Dunno. That one needs more exploration; I feel it will work with some people, and less with others.

Third is to continue to do cool things, even when people deride them. Do imperfect things. Fail better. Celebrate small victories. This is basically my guiding mantra, as it is for some of you, and it’s damn hard in practice. The critics suck blood–so bleed more. If you’re lucky they’ll let go and fall off; or perhaps they’ll be so invigorated; or perhaps others will kill them with fire gently dislodge them from you with tweezers.

Fourth is…well, I’m not sure! I’d love to hear what you think.

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6 thoughts on “Liking Stuff: You Can Help

  1. A very interesting blog post! I think that you’re right in that, it’s often fashionable to not care about things (or pretend not to care!), and that overall, that’s a bad thing. I think that’s a different situation from one in which people genuinely don’t care about things, though. It happens, to all of us. Some things fill us with interest, others don’t. Some activities feel meaningful to us, others don’t. But is this a bad thing? Should we try to take an interest in everything? Can you really find meaning in everything?

    • Yep, there’s a big difference between pretending not to care and actually not caring. The latter sounds a lot more like silence than anything.

      I’m interested in helping folks encourage the things we find interesting, rather than reflexively being sarcastic and belittling for its own sake. Because there’s a lot of the latter out there on the web, and it has impact.

      Your last bit reminds me of an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon–it ends with “What if nothing really matters? Or suppose EVERYTHING matters? Which would be worse?” :)

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