< hops on the soapbox >
I’m sitting in Starbucks, as I frequently do; I came here with the intent to work, to finish a short story and read through another for typos so that I can upload it to The Wick Chronicles soon. It’s not super busy here, but there are quite a few people around me, and people tend to sit here and talk, no matter how enmeshed in my work I happen to be.
Usually, tuning them out is not a problem. It’s when they start on something that captures my attention that my work generally suffers, because I’m unintentionally listening rather than writing.
Today’s word that pulled me from outer space back to earth: stupid.
“I don’t know why you do shit like that. It’s stupid.”
I mentally rewound the things I’d been hearing but not paying much attention to, and then listened to the rest. No, it’s not polite, I should endeavor to not eavesdrop, but my inner twelve-year-old wanted to know what this no-longer-excited young adult did that could be deemed as stupid.
He’d been excited. He was animated when he spoke, and basically shut down when informed that his interest, what he’d participated in, was “stupid.”
And now I’m ticked off.
His stupid shit? He’d waited in line to be one of the first to get the newest iPhone. He tried to explain why he did it, but it fell of dismissive ears. “You could have pre-ordered it and gotten it the day it came out. Or you could have waited a few days and not been out all night in a line with the other idiots.”
I really wanted to tell that poor kid that it wasn’t stupid. I’d almost made up my mind to speak up if his companion went to the restroom, and almost made up my mind to say something even if he didn’t, but I waited too long. They left right after that, and I’ve been stewing ever since.
Look. Your passions don’t have to make sense to other people. If it makes you happy to wait in line all night to get the newest phone, then wait all night. Revel in it. Just because I wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean I don’t get it. I do. It’s not about being the first to get the phone—of course you could have ordered it and gotten it on day one. It’s about the excitement of the people you’re with, the party atmosphere. It’s about meeting new people and connecting with old friends. For you, it’s fun, and that’s the only reason you need.
If you want to stand in a line all night for the newest book in your favorite series with a hundred other people who share your passion, do it. Dress up, play games, have a wicked good time.
If you want to stand in a line all night to be the first to see a new Star Wars movie, dressed like a Storm Trooper, do it.
Embrace your passions and don’t apologize for them.
And if you’re on the other side of the table, the person who thinks those things are stupid…don’t do them. It’s that simple. Don’t do them, and refrain from criticizing the people who do. If your friend is jazzed about spending a day or two in a line to get concert tickets to see someone he absolutely loves, don’t mock him. Be happy for him. Be thrilled. He’s going to have a great time with a bunch of other people, maybe make some new friends, and then he gets to see his favorite performer.
If your friend likes reading books in a genre you don’t but he can’t help but tell you about it, don’t tell him to shut up. Ask questions. Find out what it’s about and why it’s so important to him. No one is forcing the books on you, but your friend is attempting to share something with you. Something that matters to him.
If you have a friend who posts pictures of their lunch, their dinner, their car, their motorcycle, their kids, their finally-clean-after-a-depressive-bout house, don’t mock them. You have choices here: scroll past without saying anything, click “like” and move on, or come to an understanding that this excites them. Be happy that someone you care about enjoys his delicious food, his car, his bike, loves his kids, and broke through something that finally allowed them to create some order in their lives.
If you’re not religious—even rabidly anti-religion—and have a friend who posts a sincere thanks to God for his day, don’t shit all over it. Why not be happy that he has something in his life that brings him comfort? If you don’t like it, scroll past it. If they’re not proselytizing or rabidly shoving it in your face, just move on.
I admit, this is all something I struggle with online and IRL. I have rolled my eyes at the 1000th picture of a dog doing the same damned thing every time its picture gets taken, because frankly, that dog kind of creeps me out, but I move on. I’m sure people roll their eyes at all the photos of my cats. At my bikes. At my pink-things endeavors. I cannot fathom why someone takes a selfie every single day and posts it, or why someone takes selfies while on vacation yet never includes the thing they’re on vacation to see. Like, dude, it’s right behind you, let us see it. I don’t get a lot of it.
I don’t ask the right questions, if I even think to ask questions. Face it, I am socially dense a lot of the time; people ask me questions and I answer, but it doesn’t occur to me to keep it going and ask questions of my own. And that doesn’t matter who you are. I am not great at conversation anymore. It is what it is.
But what I hope I never do, what I will hate myself for if I do it, is to tell someone else that the thing that excites them is stupid.
You love movies? Fantastic. Tell me more about the one you just saw that really grabbed you.
You love trashy novels? Awesome. (I might ask why, but I won’t mean it sarcastically. I hope.)
You love cooking and want to share a picture of your latest culinary masterpiece? Spiffy. And fork you, now I’m hungry. Show me again.
You quilt and want me to follow your blog where you show your work? Hell yes. That’s amazing. I adore your talent.
You went on vacation to Far-Away-Place-I’ll-Never-Go? SHOW ME THE PICTURES. I will be genuinely interested.
There’s no requirement in life that says you have to understand the things that make other people happy. As long as they’re not harming anyone else, why not skip over the WTF factor and get right to the Well Why Not factor?
Just…stop shitting all over other peoples’ passions. Be happy that someone you care about has passions. That should be indulged, not condemned.
< /off the soapbox >