Some people congratulate themselves for the strangest things. Taking pride in the simplest of things as if they were, in fact, the most life changing events in theirs, or anyone else’s history. As if their liking of a certain band made them a superior human being due to their evolved sense of hearing, or even those people who feel that the ability to hit the copy and paste buttons over a quote by C.S. Lewis and post it as their facebook status makes them the next best Christian philosopher.
This was all inspired on the day of the Super Bowl, where I saw good, normal students turn on one another in the rage that only a fried buffet can induce. At the end of the game, those same students began gloating in the victory over the Patriots, as if they themselves had been a major player in the game, rather than bystanders content with shoveling fried taquitos down their throat.
Unless I missed something, it wasn’t a good thing to take credit for things that you didn’t do, and what is pride, if not glorifying yourself for something? So without any hesitation, I present three of the stupidest things we do that make us proud.
1-Hating Something Popular
There are some people in this world who feel that hating the Twilight franchise, whether it be the books, movies, or simply the fact that it has completely destroyed horror films as we know them is the newest, most counter-culture opinion since not liking sliced toast. Even if that is the case, there still is no reason for giving yourself a pat on the back for hating a popular thing, whether it sucks or not. Anywhere you look (outside of North Korea and China that is), there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who generally do not like something, as well as the “non-conformist types” who simply must do the opposite of what the majority is doing.
Guess what, that doesn’t make you a member of an Elite Opinion Holders Club of Clever People, instead just numbers you among the millions of those with similar minds. Attention seekers of today seem to think that all it takes to get a reaction out of people is a negative opinion, maybe throw in a couple of cuss words for flair, and BLAM! Instant scandal and attention. Now I’m not saying that you should feel bad about hating the Kardashians or Justin Bieber, those are valid, and probably correct views. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t feel any more proud of that than you should about not sticking your tongue in an electric socket to help you wake up this morning.
2-Offending or Confusing other People.
Not that long ago, I loved the idea of sending in letters to the editor (anonymously of course) in an effort to offend as many people as I could. The idea had been beaten into me over long years of adolescence and too many Michal Moore movies. It was simple, saying something controversial or offensive. It was a sign that you were pulling off the wool from people’s eyes and making them realize an Unfortunate Truth. The more people that you offended, the greater the truth you were telling.
This made you one of those people who others could look at with awe for having the gall to stand up to the big man while standing up for the little guy. This sort of mentality makes people shout out “dead baby”, rape, or the like. Then when people call you tasteless and throw it back in your face, you nod your head and congratulate yourself on helping them face a personal taboo and grow out of their shell a little more.
Seriously, what does offending someone really prove? That they have a sense of right and wrong that you abandoned long ago? Someone who offends others isn’t “winning” or anything of the sort. It’s what they said, and why that matters. That doesn’t get overlooked just because they managed to make people upset or just because they reached a certain reaction. It’s what you say that matters. If you say something truthful and important, that you can be proud of. Be proud of doing the right thing, not of how many people you can get a reaction out of.
3-Being Part of the Masses
With this one I just try to understand when exactly giving into peer pressure became a good thing. I mean really, when did humanity reach the point where they decided to say “I’ll do what everyone else is doing just because it will let me kill some time”? Take the Ocean Marketing fiasco as a prime example. A public relations official started giving snarky remarks to the customers who would complain, giving himself promotions and making himself sound more important than he actually was. A dissatisfied customer sent these remarks to the founder of Penny Arcade who continued to investigate. After a short time Penny Arcade published its findings, allowing for direct quotes from the PR. The results went viral and resulted in not only the man losing his job, but also him being on the receiving end of thousands of furious e-mails containing jokes, ridicule, harassment, and even death threats which extended to his family.
Now let’s assume for the moment that everyone was in their right to yell at him and no one overstepped their bounds. Even in that case, there’s no reason for any one person to have the attitude that he/she managed to put the big guy in his place and stand up for the little guy. Sure it may have been the right thing (once again assuming that no one overstepped any bounds), but to me its like hating racism or thinking that spousal abuse is deplorable. It’s absolutely right to hate those things, and people recognize this. Does that mean you can say, “I heard someone use the N word and I was disgusted” and expect someone to tell you what a good job you did?
Doing something that is right shouldn’t be reason to feel especially proud about. It should just be something you do. It doesn’t make you a hero, just a normal ordinary person and isn’t that what we all want to be?