Why can’t we all just get along? is the quintessential question that’s dogged humanity since the dawn of civilization. The problem is we’re all so, so, so damn different.
Some people are so into gaming or fantasy sports it’s practically all they think about. Others love animals to the point where they won’t eat anything that once had a face. The world is full of comic book fanatics, technology enthusiasts and surfer dudes who see the search for the perfect wave as a religious quest.
“To each his own,” I say. John Lennon wrote, “Whatever gets you through the night, it’s alright, it’s alright.” But that viewpoint appears to be in the minority these days. Everyone seems to be way too judgmental about other people’s habits, guilty pleasures and what have you.
Welcome to the age of criticize thy neighbor’s habits. Or thy husband’s.
My wife, who has the TV on practically 24/7, tells me that watching football – which I enjoy very much – is a waste of time. It annoys her when I head off to the rec room to watch a game. Irony aside, what’s it to her? Then again, the way she eats annoys the shit out of me. Go figure.
Caught one of my Twitter buddies tweeting with one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills the other day. Had to give him a hard time about it. The thing is, I watch it too. I also watch the Vanderpump Rules spinoff, which is even more soap operaish. Sure, I tweeted that … after shaming him.
I’d say, “Don’t judge me,” but that would be futile. Some of you will anyway; you simply can’t help yourselves. That’s just what people do.
OK, maybe I’m being just a tad disingenuous. You know I give people shit for reading self-help books, going to Tony Robbins seminars, believing conspiracy theories and falling for trendy diets and dopey fads like colon cleansing. Yup, guilty as charged. I’m nothing but a duplicitous hypocrite. The pot calling the kettle black, as it were.
We all live in glass houses, so what is it that makes us all throw stones?
We often give those close to us a hard time as a sign of affection. Growing up in New York abuse was a way of life. Mostly it was a sign of affection. I mean, why waste your breath abusing someone you didn’t even like? Sometimes we were just goofing around. Bored. Killing time.
On the other hand, familiarity does breed annoyance. Especially in close quarters. Especially when it comes to the way my wife eats.
Sometimes the quirky habits of our close friends and families do affect us in material ways. Are we wrong or selfish for calling them out on it? Maybe. Who knows?
Some people diminish others as a way to elevate themselves. In their minds, life is a zero-sum game that they intend to win any way they can. That’s fairly dysfunctional. It’s also fairly common.
Truth is, being critical is complicated. We do it for all sorts of reasons. Some are relatively benign, others are pretty hateful.
Why can’t we all just get along? Because we can’t; that’s just not how it works. Being critical of others is part of the human condition. It’s part of what it means to be a sentient being. We’re all different. We all have different viewpoints and ways of doing things. And sometimes, the other guy’s way just rubs us the wrong way. Period.
C’est la vie. Or should I say, vive la difference?