In a clear attempt at mimicking the life and times of Ernest Hemingway I was perusing Facebook the other day. If something about my opening sentence doesn’t seem right, it’s probably because I was being openly and unapologetically sarcastic regarding the seemingly immature way I inspire myself to write. Before I get completely lost in a rant that makes me sound even more like a thirteen year old boy doing everything in his power to prove his counter culture status, I’ll remove my pre-teen punk rock disposition and get back to my point.
Amidst all of the selfies and status updates concerning new found workout routines, I stumbled across a few posts embodying a certain affliction perched on the cusp of overtaking the world’s common sense, what’s left of it anyway. For example: “OMG, love of my life had the entire day off of work and when I got home the whole house was clean! Best Boyfriend ever. Feelin blessed!” Um…Those three dots, sometimes known as a caesura, sometimes known as muted pauses, always known as a punctuation Microsoft Office doesn’t comprehend, is the visual embodiment of me saying “Holy Christ, what is going here!.” I know, I know. All of this sounds amazingly cynical, and while I try hard not to let myself venture to this place often, things like this are akin to a one way trip to jaded island. But I just have to wonder, do we truly expect this little of one another?
Before I reach the point of no return I want to assure you what I am writing about here isn’t people’s vapid obsession with meaningless things like Facebook. Nor is it a contemptuous attempt at destroying the joyful feelings people have in the early and in some cases lasting stages of love. Writing about either of these things would be nothing more than a self-indictment. No, what I am driving at here is a much different and altogether more comprehensive animal. You see, the aforementioned status, is an alarming example of the thinking demonstrated by a growing number of people whose collective population inhabits a section of our world I like to call the Cumulative Generation of Everyone Gets a Trophy Town.
Now, if you’re keeping score at home I should explain something. Everyone Gets a Trophy Town isn’t an actual piece of land you will find on the map. Although if it did exist in the literal sense I believe you’d find it somewhere between West Quoddy Head Maine and Cape Wrangell Alaska. But as I said, this town isn’t a tangible thing you’re able to touch with your hands. Instead it is a proliferation of outward pride instilled in us for completing the most menial of tasks. In other words, if you act like you just summated Mount Everest upon sweeping the floor of your kitchen, you’re probably a resident.
In a moment I’d like to get back to my initial example of someone professing their adoration for a boyfriend who cleaned their mutual residence via a social networking site as prime evidence towards the existence of this ignorant way of thinking. But for now, I’d like to exhibit other residents of this field of thought.
“I take care of my kids!”
When I hear people say this I just shake my head and think of the courtroom scene in the movie Big Daddy where the kid yells “but I wipe my own ass.” While it was good for sentimental value, that kid was five years old. Here I’ll draw you the parallel. Five year olds should wipe their own asses and parents should take care of their kids! And even then the lines have been blurred haven’t they? Maybe I am in the minority here, but my understanding of taking care of the kids you decided to have isn’t buying them a few diapers, feeding them once and awhile, and spending time with them for a few hours on Saturday afternoon before it’s time to hand them over to Grandma and ensure your ability to “still have a life” in spite of the fact you’re a parent.
Guess what? You introduced a child into this world. Your life now consists of being with them as much as humanly possible. In other words, there is no magical line that exists that denotes where you start and your children end. I don’t care if you were a great artist, an amazing basketball player, or if you were just the coolest person at the local watering hole before this. The second junior made their appearance into the world; you stopped being any of those things and started your life as a Mommy or Daddy.
In the long run your understanding of this fact may free the world of a potential disaster of a human being. Notice the operative word “may,” this is because even if you’re a stellar parent a chance exists your children may still end up as radical jihadists. It’s the risk you take by having children. If you’re waiting for your invitation to accept your Nobel Peace Prize, stop. You don’t deserve it. In this instance a pat on the back is too much. Why, because you’re a parent. Not only was it your decision to have children. But, being a good parent is something you should be doing. Note the word should here. You don’t get awards for things you should be doing.
Another example of this kind of behavior you’ll find on almost any social media site is something I like to call the “food-selfie.” I’ve dubbed it this because even though it’s a picture of food, in all actuality it’s a picture of you. The reality of these status updates is this; you want to show the world how great you’re. You’re seeking adulation for what is in truth a menial task. You’re an adult and you cooked food to feed yourself. You’re supposed to feed yourself! It’s one of the essential parts of living. What’s next, and I am only half joking as I write this, selfies of people breathing?
Aside from a few extremely talented people cooking is not a skill. It is more or less, a conquering of will over apathy. Do I want to put in the effort to make a nice meal or not? That is the reality of cooking as an adult. Cooking a meal no more makes you Wolfgang Puck than hitting a home-run in your unisex Softball league makes you Babe Ruth. Don’t believe me, call your shot at the plate one of these days and see how many laughs you engender from the meager crowd of your peers. Still, I will freely admit food is a beautiful thing, both gustatorily and visually. This fact creates a variable in this instance. If you can honestly attest to the fact your lone intention in posting a status of this nature was to share beauty with the world, then you’re not guilty of the “food-selfie” after all. Let me be the first to thank you for your contributions to this world of beauty but I must admit part of me thinks you’re lying.
Don’t feel bad though, lying is in our nature. You were born under a bad star and your inevitable fall into the depths of deception was a birthright, which brings me back to the beginning. More than parenting, more than cooking, more than any other emotion or task we experience in our lifetime, love is not something we should be congratulated for. In fact, I believe adulation given to someone for the simple fact of loving another human being is actually detrimental to a relationship. Feelings of adoration and adulation are incredibly addicting and while compliments like the example I gave earlier are common at the beginning of a relationship they tend to slow as the relationship progresses and responsibilities increase (e.g., parenting). Sadly, the same cannot be said for the overwhelming need for adulation a person develops in their partner by announcing to the world their romantic prowess over the simple act of cleaning a house. Make no mistake about it, by expecting so little of your partner you’re setting yourself up for a very imminent and very public heartache. Love should in no way be considered a small emotion. While the little things should be appreciated, you live in a world where partners have donated organs to one another because their love is worthy of an ultimate sacrifice. Ask yourself; is your love unworthy of the same sort of commitment?
The most baffling piece of this rancid pie I so adoringly call The Cumulative Generation of Everyone Gets a Trophy Town, is how surprised people are by its existence. We are after all, the generation of scholarly awards for perfect attendance. Think about that for a moment, really let it sink in. We reward our children just for showing up and then wonder where their heightened sense of entitlement comes from. Are pants even required for this award?
We’ve gone from being the culture born with silver spoons in our mouths to the culture born with silver spoons in our mouths who upon being brought into this world immediately asks where our iPads are. Despite all of that, even in the face of such stupefying incredulousness, I am not convinced we are the generation of impending doom. I say this because cynicism is not holding people accountable for their ignorance. Actually I believe it’s quite the contrary. True cynicism is the belief that hope doesn’t exist for people to change. So next time you find yourself in the position to expect more, do it. There is still time. Just imagine the adulation you will receive.