Saturday, August 17, 2013

Just Awful (or maybe not)

I am writing this blogpost from scenic downtown O'Hare, fixing to jet off to merry old England for three days of meetings which I hope will be pleasant and not at all contentions (they will probably be alternately pleasant and contentious... I should bring cookies ((biscuits)) in with me.  The next time I remember that I should bring cookies ((biscuits)) will be after I walk into the building Monday).

I am pretty sure my plane is going to crash before I get there or before I get home.

If my plane does crash, don't take this as an example of my psychic abilities.  There is no such thing as psychic abilities.  There is such a thing as paranoia.  Pretty much every time I leave the house, or the office, or step into the shower, or turn on the toaster I think something is going to kill me.  This is how it is to live in my world.  It is an anxious and ridiculous place.  On the plus side, I finally got "Blurred Lines" out of my head.  Wait... it's back.

You know you want it.... (is that, for real, the rapiest song lyric of all times or what?)

Anyhoo, what with my flying anxiety kicked all up into high gear I wanted to add a nice blogpost.  If my plane does end up in a fiery crash over the Atlantic, I would like my last thoughts here to be nice ones (side note: I drive my car every day, generally spending a good chunk of it over 60 MPH, and never have this kind of anxiety which just serves to underscore how completely ridiculous flying anxiety is).

So here it goes:  I was reading Gawker comments on one of the stories they run about people being Just Awful.  This one was about a neighborhood trying to stop one family from putting ramps on their house for a newly disabled family member due to fears about the ramps making property values go down.  Seriously: just awful awful people.  And one of the commenters wrote this:

I was going to respond to this directly, but then I thought instead that I would write a blogpost in response because surely she'll read it here and feel super special to have been the subject of my Well-ian musings (the preceding thought brought to you by Self-Delusion(c).  Self Delusion(c), keeping bloggers blogging since 2003).

Here's the deal: media is lousy with stories of Just Awful people.  There are endless stories on Gawker and CNN and DailyBeast of people proudly failing at general decency.  We watch Real Housewives and Toddlers and Tiaras and Amish Mafia (Amish Mafia brought to you by No, Just No. This is Not a Real Thing) and an endless parade of reality shows featuring people who Did Not Come Here To Make Friends.  And I think we consume so much of that because it reassures us that we are not Just Awful.  Lookit that asshole!  At least I'm not him.

Which could be taken as a net loss for humanity in general,  But chunk this one through the mind-nuggets: there are a lot more people who are anxious about being awful than there are awful people.   Which I contend might well mean that people are not Just Awful.

What makes it to the internet or the TV machine are stories of people being exceptional; exceptionally awful, or exceptionally wonderful.  But out in the real world, I think you'll find that people, in general, practice basic courtesy unexceptionally.  While we may be more inclined to remember the asshole who cut us off in the traffic than the person who slowed down a little to make room when we turned our blinker on (you do turn your blinker on when you change lanes, right?  People who don't turn their blinkers on when they change lanes are Just Awful), we are probably all of us far more likely to be the latter driver than the former.

When you head out into the world tomorrow or Monday (I strongly endorse staying inside all day on a Sunday), watch the people around you.  Watch how many people exchange a smile or hold a door or indulge one of the thousands of small courtesies we extend to one another.  Remember those instead of that bitch on Real Housewives who snarked at the maid.  Well, that bitch is probably more fun, but don't let her bitchiness overshadow that guy who handed back the five you dropped on your way out of the 7/11. 

It's a pleasant exercise.  And will restore your faith in humanity.  Just pay attention.  For real: most people are not awful.