When I sat down to start this blog post, I discovered, to my dismay, that I have nothing to write about this week. There’s no burning issue that I’ve been aching to get off my chest. There’s no semi-obscure hobby or pastime that I feel the need to ramble on about at wearisome length. There’s nothing interesting in my life that would make a good story to tell. In a nutshell, I got nothin’.
So have fun until next week!
Just kidding! I was just trying to see if anybody was paying attention.
Seriously, since I have nothing to write about this week, I might as well write about something to do with that fact. Namely, what makes something interesting? Why do people care so much about some things and so little about other things? Why, for example, do people leave long, nasty, expletive-laden rants as comments on news articles? Why are supermarket check-out lanes filled with tawdry gossip about who’s dating who, who’s fat, who’s pregnant, and so on and so forth?
And then of course there are other things that perhaps should be considered important that people seem to ignore as much as possible. Things such as politics, and the economy, and God. Of course, it’s not as if NO attention is paid to these things. But it certainly seems as if a majority of people are less interested in what we should do about, say, the economy, and more interested in, say, how much time Lindsay Lohan spent in jail.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on the average person. Perhaps the selection of periodicals in the checkout lane at Wal-Mart isn’t necessarily reflective of what the average person is most concerned about. But it is undeniable that there are a lot of things that people care about that, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t overly important. I’ll even take myself as an example. I just wrote a blog post about how much I love video games. Why do I have that love? What is it about video games that I would write over a thousand words about how much I love them (and trust me, there was a lot more I wanted to say in that essay that I didn’t say for the sake of space)?
It’s kind of an obscure thing to think about, I admit. Why do people care so much about certain things? Who knows? Something to do with their genes? Something to do with the environment in which they were raised? A mixture of both? Or neither? It’s really kind of a pointless question to ponder, because there really is no way to answer it. I just find impossible problems fascinating, I guess.
Clearly, environment must have something to do with it. Take hunting, for example. I don’t hunt. I’m not opposed to it, but I have no interest in partaking in such an activity myself. Of course, my dad doesn’t hunt either. So I was never exposed to it as a child. So why would I like it? Someone else may have grown up in a home where hunting was a common activity, and so would have developed a passion for it because of constant exposure to it as a child.
But things are never quite so simple, are they? For example, take me and video games again. I mentioned last week that my brother and I were introduced to video games when my parents bought us an NES in the late 80s. Clearly, my love of video games stems from an environmental factor. But I also mentioned last week that my brother no longer plays video games and hasn’t since the mid-90s. Why? What causes two brothers who both grew up playing video games to take such different paths in regards to that hobby? Genetics, perhaps? Is there a “video game” gene? Or is it environmental? After all, even though we were raised by the same parents and lived in the same house, it’s not like our environments were exactly the same. After all, we were different ages, had different friends, were taught by different teachers, etc. Or is it a combination of environment and genetics? Or is there a mysterious third factor at play here?
Another example would be my love of heavy metal. This certainly wasn’t something that was introduced to me by my parents. It wasn’t really an environmental thing either. I had some friends in high school that turned me onto punk and hardcore, but it didn’t take long for my musical taste to branch out into more extreme forms of music. This happened pretty independently of any outside influence. I actually had some notoriety amongst my friends in high school as the guy with terrible taste in music. So why did I like it and gravitate to it? Everyone around me was either indifferent to heavy music or actively encouraging me not to listen to it. It’s the same thing today, in fact. My wife can’t stand listening to my music, and I try to avoid listening to music with other people around for the most part. But I still listen to it, because I love it. Why? I have no idea.
Fads are an interesting manifestation of this sort of thing. Why do people latch onto certain things or ideas so readily? For example, apparently the big thing among little girls these days is something called Silly Bands. They are basically rubber bands that are shaped like animals or things, and little girls wear them around their wrists. My nieces are obsessed with these things. They get extremely excited when they get new ones, they have to proudly show them off to anybody who will pretend to care, and they brag about how many they have. Why are these Silly Bands so popular? Again, it’s a mystery.
My conclusion is that I have no conclusion. I don’t know what makes something important to one person while another person is indifferent or hostile to it. I don’t know why I love heavy metal when I have never associated with anyone else who loves it. I don’t know why my nieces wear rubber bands on their wrists. People are just mysterious, but I suppose that makes them all the more fascinating, doesn’t it?