Saturday, January 25, 2014

All That...And, For What?

In 1995, my life was changed forever when I got my first Mac as a gift for my seventh birthday.  Though it had its share of issues--as all pre-OS-X Macs did--it was mostly great for what I needed it for: homework, playing games, etc.  However, like most pieces of technology, it started to show its age after a while, and, in 1998, the printer we had gotten with it stopped working.  The tech specialist at my school said to re-install the printer driver, but it gave us an error message, so, we called a friend of ours who owned a Mac, and he spent a long time installing a system upgrade...but not only did it not take, he later discovered that there was a mechanical problem with the printer itself, and no software upgrade or re-installation would fix that.  I felt bad about it, especially since the guy was dead less than two years later because of pancreatic cancer; he wasted all that time and effort, and nobody benefited from it.

I bring that up for just one reason: You've probably noticed that, for quite a while, I've been adamant about how my shows, movies, music, and books are superior to most people's favorite pastime: sports.  You've probably seen some of the images, statuses, and posts that decry everything from the Super Bowl to the Olympics.  Even if I don't outright insult others who are participating, I'll proudly tell others that I'm watching a movie instead of the "big game," almost making myself sound superior because I'm not doing what "they" are.  Instead of trying to understand something that is quite important to millions of people across the country, I go off in a corner and look down on those who aren't doing what I'm doing, which is pretty much everybody.

You may ask: Why is that? What is the need for such a rivalry? Well, I admit that it's wrong--did you hear that?--but here's the reasoning behind it, anyway: Over the years, I have had people tell me that I shouldn't be watching the shows that I do or did.  It didn't seem to matter whether it was Austin & Ally, Mork & Mindy, or even Monk; somebody always had some problem with it, usually because it wasn't "normal".  It was the same way with video games, music, and even books.  It's one thing for somebody to say that he/she didn't like what I did; that was fine.  The problem was when people told me that it was wrong for me to be into whatever, and personally insulted me for it, usually desiring to take it away.  You may think that there weren't that many people who did that, and you'd be right; still, those who were of that opinion almost always couldn't keep their food holes shut about the matter.  Since they were quite insistent that I do what "everyone else" was doing--which, many times, involved watching or playing sports--I became just as insistent that I not do it, and criticized others who had such interests, whether or not they had any desire to replace what I liked to do with what I refused to do.  It infuriated me once when an older friend attempted to teach me how to throw a football; didn't he realize that all I wanted to do to that piece of pigskin was shove a sharp knife into it?  It also got to the point where I considered all sports fans to be fanatics; if you got upset when your team lost...well, that was just stupid.  Though I now realize how wrong it was, it would never have happened if it weren't for those few people--especially one in particular--who couldn't stop popping their chops.

Okay, so, now that I realize that there's no need for a rivalry between me and sports fans...what's to be done? I'm not going to start watching or caring about sports; why should I spend my time involved in or researching something about which I couldn't care less?  Still, one thing I do need to do is refrain from bashing sports or their fans; you all have just as much right to like the Philadelphia Eagles or the Houston Astros as I do to like Laura Marano and Kevin Max.  People generally don't like other people who have an air of superiority about them; to get the feeling that one feels he/she is better than you...well, nobody likes that.  If I don't like sports, that's fine; nobody is forcing me to participate in them.  Still, to think less of people because they do like them isn't good.

I want to make a few things very clear.  First off: My definition of "entertainment" probably isn't the same as yours.  For those who watch sports, they're a source of entertainment; if people didn't enjoy them, why would they be watching or participating in them? Yet, when I talk about "entertainment," it's just a shorter way of saying "books, music, movies, and television." My world geography teacher in high school regularly got irritated with TV news commentators because of their mispronunciations of geographical locations--i.e., pronouncing the Middle East nation of Qatar as "cutter" instead of "ka-tar"--and their misapplications of longitude and latitude, using numbers such as 35.6 North and 26.2 West instead of the proper measurements: degrees, then minutes, then seconds.  Despite that, she understood when reporters and other TV personalities referred to the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina--one country, not two--as simply Bosnia, because she knew they were trying to refrain from getting tongue-tied.  It's the same with me: The term "entertainment" rolls off the tongue easier than saying "books, music, movies, and television," and it's also easier to type.  Sure, to the right people, sports are entertaining...but not only are they not to me, there are other types of entertainment besides them and books, music, movies, and television.  What about computer games? Video games? Stage plays? Live concerts? Certain websites? You might even know people who you'd consider entertaining, or have seen random people who entertained you in a train wreck kind of way.  Still, that's not what I mean by entertainment; I simply mean books, music, movies, and television.  If you bandied the names of such pastimes about as much as I do, you'd see why I do that.

Second off: Even if my true friends know why I don't do sports, and are completely okay with it, there will always be others who think it's just plain weird.  When I was in high school, I had a classmate who supposedly thought she was a vampire.  I never spoke a word to her--in fact, most of what I know about her came from my yearbooks--but, her purse was a coffin; she wore powder on her face; and, even her backpack was all black and had the word "SPOOKY" embroidered on it.  In the back one of those aforementioned yearbooks, someone--her parents, one would guess--did an ad dedicated to her that had a quotation, apparently from her, that talked about being original.  Of course, all of you who know me that I don't do vampires or spooky stuff; I was even hesitant to watch the Disney Channel series My Babysitter's a Vampire, because...well, you know.  Still, I mention her because it seems they way many people likely saw her is how some people see me: a freak, and I don't mean an "ardent enthusiast." I'm sure that many people talked about that girl behind her back, and said all kinds of ugly things; they're probably doing the same thing to me.  It's funny when you think about it: Most of the people who have unfriended me since I joined Facebook in September 2006 were people who didn't know me at all--or, at least, not that well--prior to joining my friend list.  I think it was because people just didn't expect to be bombarded with artwork, song parodies, and other posts about "abnormal" pastimes such as bargain hunting, libraries, and, yes, kiddie shows and movies.  They probably got weirded out, which is why they disappeared from my friends list; however, those who knew me completely understood it, and that's why they stayed aboard.  Of course, that's not true in every case, but it is in more than you'd believe; even if people didn't say they unfriended me because of what I was posting, it was still likely part of it.  I don't know if the sermon topic was just dull, or the preacher was having an off day, but, one Sunday several years ago, my brother-in-law mentioned on the way home from church services that people were falling asleep all around him during the sermon...but the preacher still had to keep going for those who were still listening.  It's the same with me: If folks choose to consider me a freak because of what I like, that's on them; I'll just keep going for the people who do still care about me.  I can't let the actions and words of a few unfortunate individuals ruin what I have with my many true friends.

Lastly: Whether it's sports, celebrities, or anything else, having an addiction is a problem.  In American society, sports fans are expected to do it up and do it big; you've probably seen people with automobiles, notebooks, tech gear, or other items decked out with logos and insignia of their favorite team(s)/player(s).  If you saw a car or truck with such decals, most of you would just think, "Well, that person's a big fan"...yet, if you saw the same vehicle with images and logos related to Demi Lovato, Bridgit Mendler, and Laura Marano, you'd automatically assume that the guy driving it is a weirdo, and not someone you'd want to be around.  Part of that is because the modern mentality assumes that, when a guy has a crush on a famous woman, all he wants to do is undress her and get in bed with her...but those of you who know me know I'm not that way at all.  That's one of the reasons why I choose the innocent, modest, morally decent girls; seriously, when was the last time you heard me talk about how much I like Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, or Christina Aguilera? I like the Disney girls because they're not sultry!  However, the bigger problem is that, because obsessing over sports has become socially acceptable, some people could be committing the sin of idolatry without even knowing it.  Don't think that I'm pointing fingers; I'm likely more guilty of that sin than any of you.  I spent years essentially bowing down at the altars of Pokémon, Hilary Duff, and the personal computer in general--that's not even half of my previous idols--and feel that it was a tremendous mistake.  Only those who know you inside and out can judge whether or not you currently have any idols, and I'm not going to make that judgment on anyone but myself.  Whether socially acceptable or not, being addicted to something--which is the same as idolizing it--is not okay to God, as I'm sure you all already know.

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