Being AGAINST is pointless when you’re never FOR.
I bought a ticket to see The Fault in Our Stars a few weeks ago.
Right before I got to the front of the line to buy my ticket, a rowdy group of college-aged guys found themselves in line behind me. They were there to see 22 Jump Street I think (or whatever other movie’s out that raucous twenty-something “bros” are okay with letting their peers see them watching).
Anyways, they started talking.
Unaware of my prying ears.
Looking at the list of movies playing, they started talking about how stupid it was that their friend Jake had gone to see The Fault in Our Stars the other day.
“Laaaaame,” they exclaimed loudly in front of each other, probably pounding their chests to display their masculinity.
“And he was with Andy… they went and saw it together.”
“Oh my gawwwwwd, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
Cue a hearty round of laughs at Jake and Andy’s expense.
It just struck me.
And not only because I was ten seconds away from loudly declaring to the box office girl in front of them that I intended to see the same movie.
Why is it that when a man likes a quote-and-quote “girl” movie, he’s practically burned at the stake? Why are people ridiculed and chastised for liking anything, for that matter?
Whether it be a particular sport, a certain hobby, a type of movie, or even a heated political debate — Why is it that we’ve created a culture in which it’s significantly more acceptable to be AGAINST something than FOR something?
The same goes for so many other aspects of our culture — a wave of cynicism and apathy has swept our generation. The less you care, the cooler you are, apparently. And for some reason, we’ve become very sensitive to this culture shift and subconsciously don’t want to disturb it.
Whenever we talk about something we like, we feel like we have to put some kind of disclaimer on it — just in case someone out there might disagree.
You could be sitting in a room with 10 people and say, “Oh, did you see that episode of Parks and Recreation last night? I absolutely loved it!” and 9 of them could agree with you and say, “Yeah it was hilarious!,” but the tenth guy says “It was dumb, you really liked it?” and that’s the one you care about for some reason.
We automatically put a disclaimer on our opinion… “Oh, well, I mean, uh… it did have such-and-such issues, and that particular joke didn’t really land, but I think I still enjoyed it.”
Nah, just say you loved it and keep it at that.
It’s become easy to hate and difficult to love.
We are becoming a culture of cynics.
Yet, there’s nothing redeemable about cynicism. Cynicism brings absolutely nothing to the table — it’s completely unnecessary. Cynicism always leads nowhere and brings absolutely nothing in life. Nada. Zero
And worse, much of it comes from an all-around naivete and cluelessness that people display towards others or certain things that people are passionate about.
So — these guys were making fun of Jake and Andy for seeing a movie that might be classified as more “romantic” and “emotional” — and they hadn’t even seen the movie to appropriately judge it for themselves?
* FYI — it’s phenomenal and why haven’t you seen it yet? *
Every time you make someone feel like they are alone in this world, all you do is make the world a little bit darker.
People are affected by what society says — we all are.
And society’s opinions are largely negative. People are scared of the unknown and of what society deems unacceptable.
Whatever the “social norm” is, is what must be the case. If the most we hear from others is about a movie sucking, then we assume it must suck. And eventually it becomes our own held-fast opinion that it sucks without even really knowing much about it. Yes, Transformers 4 may suck, but I don’t want to hear your mouth wagging unless you’ve actually seen it.
Why is it that we think we can so readily judge things and people based on so little knowledge of them?
For too long I’ve had to defend my love of the television show LOST.
Why was I spending so much time justifying my affinity for this incredibly fresh, unique, phenomenally-rich and complex piece of storytelling gold, from people who had seen seven random episodes scattered throughout and said “that show sucked”…?
I felt it was somehow my responsibility to spend an hour talking all about how great LOST was because of “X,Y, & Z” in order to rationalize my position. But I didn’t need to defend my opinion to them. LOST was the greatest stinkin’ show to ever grace the small screen and there’s nothing anyone could ever say to convince me otherwise.
If people have nothing better to do than bag on me for my adoration of something, then so be it. I know the impact LOST had on me — I know how creative, imaginative, inspiring, clever, deep, funny, and challenging it was when it was truly experienced the way it was meant to be seen. It contributed more to who I am than any other piece of pop culture ever will. But that’s another post for another day.
The point is, I can’t let others’ opinions (often misguided even) dictate my preferences and passions.
So find out what you love and own it.
Be passionate. Own what you love.
Contrary to popular opinion, others respect people who are passionate about the things they love. You’re not the coolest if you’re apathetic to everything and everyone around you. You’re boring and you’re fake.
If your absolute favorite thing to do is make cornhusk dolls while you’re drinking chocolate milk, then own that.
Or if your absolute favorite movie is Legally Blonde, then own it. Don’t put a disclaimer on it and make a million excuses for it and feel bad when someone tries to make you feel dumb by telling you they don’t like it. Because that will happen. Say you love it because of x, y, and z. Leave it at that.
Imagine how boring life would be if we all had the exact same likes and passions. If we all followed what society deems “normal” all the time.
Because what is “normal” but just the practices and preferences of the majority?… And who wants to go with the majority all the time?
So think twice before making fun of that guy for crying during The Fault in Our Stars.
What are you trying to accomplish? You think it’s uncool that a person might actually be a well-rounded human being who can enjoy different types of stories and experience all the different sorts of emotions life has to offer? Tsk tsk.
Stop. Think. What is it you want to bring to the world? How do you want to leave this place?
More apathetic and cynical?
Or more passionate, creative, and accepting?
One of my greatest hopes is to see my generation rise above the negativity and be one of passion.
Not apathy, not cynicism.
We’ve become too scared to care about anything.
But life is meant to be lived passionately.
So own what you love.
Forget what others somehow determined was “normal.” They don’t get to dictate the worthiness of what you care about.
Being AGAINST something is pointless unless you’re willing to stand by what you’re FOR.
So, no. I’m not entirely sure what that group of rowdy college ruffians would think of my appreciation for the movie they so loudly derided.
But that’s okay.
Maybe Jake and Andy and I will all just have to hit up The Fault in Our Stars together next time.
© Matt Tory, 2014.