How did we get to this point, where everything is absolutes and superlatives? “The Best Trumpeter/Guacamole/Fill-In-The-Blank”?? “The Worst Comedian/TV Show/Things-In-The-World“?? Hype has gotten way out of hand, and while I’d like to blame certain über-judgemental politicians, I know that this trend to compare, pick apart and find fault with everyone else predates “The Donald”. (Like for 50 years now!!)
Admittedly, it’s human nature to notice differences in quality, but was it always so vicious? We grew up with Montgomery Ward’s and Sear’s Good – Better – Best! – and I kinda miss it, that tolerance for “pretty good” – you sorta knew where you stood and what to expect when UPS dropped off the package. When did it become okay to trash everyone else’s efforts in order to establish one’s own superiority? How can Kobe Bryant be “arguably the best player of his generation” while Michael Jordan is “the greatest basketball player of all time” ? Couldn’t we just enjoy watching magnificent athletes make amazing shots without the constant chatter of pundits announcing THIS one is so much better than THAT one?
It took me many years and a lot of soul-searching to feel alright about being a black-thumbed gardener, a lousy bowler, a mediocre pool player and a less-than-stellar cook – to get to the point where I could perform those functions and actually enjoy doing so. (Why? Maybe because my parents didn’t believe in the “learning curve” – at least not so I could tell; we were taught that you either “got it!” and were brilliant right out of the box, or you should hang it up, like the old one-liner: “if at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you!”)
Or maybe because the deck’s been stacked – the media has decided to turn us against ourselves and one another because there’s profit to be made. Never mind how unhappy it makes most of us; it’s in somebody’s intere$t to turn everything from singing and dancing to driving a big rig thru the snowy tundra to getting married to surviving on a desert island into a competition. They’re using manufactured dissatisfaction to get us to buy whatever it is they’re selling but don’t have enough confidence to offer it without the hoopla of hyperbole.
Which means, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not worth buying.