Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moderation In All Things

I am a very middle-of-the-road person. There are very few subjects that I really care passionately about, which is why it seems like I rant about the same things over and over on this blog. I generally distrust people who have strong opinions about anything, because in my experience, the people who are fanatic about something are the ones who haven't thought it through from both sides. So if there's one type of people I truly despise, it's "all-or-nothing" people. Which I have decided to call "AONs." The people who either love something or hate it, with no room for neutrality.

* AONs are the ones who review movies (video games, books, etc) online, and rate everything "Perfect" or "Sucks". Look, IMDB has 10 stars for a reason, people. Not everything can be 1 star or 10 stars. What's worse is when they actually type out their reasons, and between their bad spelling and broken sentences, you can barely make out, "It was a pretty good movie, but the hero wore a shirt I didn't like, so the movie sucked." Heck, poke around Amazon enough, and you'll come across the occasional bad review for seller-related reasons. ("I didn't like this book because I paid for 2-day shipping and it took two weeks to get it.")

So I never believe any perfect review, whether it's perfectly good or perfectly bad. Either direction has me immediately thinking "internet fanboy", and searching for more professional reviews. For example, one friend of mine called "The Day After Tomorrow" a bomb because he doesn't believe in global warming. Now, there are a lot of reasons that it was a bad movie (and a lot of reasons I thought it was fun anyway), and I wouldn't have minded if he'd blasted the movie for it's script, acting, and yes, even the general plot. But the science in the movie (and most movies) is "movie science" that is only relevant in that movie's universe. Hating it for your own personal beliefs is like saying, "I hated Star Wars because I don't believe in lightsabers." My brother hated "Face-Off" because he couldn't swallow the idea of people switching faces. Okay, but you knew that going in. If you didn't want to suspend you disbelief that far, then you should have gone to a different movie. But at least it wasn't the only reason he disliked the movie, and he didn't call it a total bomb based on that one issue.

* AONs are the ones who keep fad diets alive. The ones who say, "I read lettuce is good for you, so I'm going to eat nothing but lettuce for two months." Or "I know salt is bad, so I'm going to completely eliminate salt from my diet" (forgetting that a small amount of salt is required for survival). I'm not a nutritionist - or even in shape - but I firmly believe that a healthy diet is one that doesn't go to extremes. Well, unless you consider "absolutely no cyanide" an extreme.

* AONs are also the ones who say things like, "America: Love it or leave it." I think I've already established how much I hate that attitude, but for those reading my blog for the first time: America was founded on the concept of "power to the people." It was founded by people who were sick of living under the rule of monarchs, where the opinion of the average citizen meant nothing. Now, there are some countries where citizens have less power, and "if you don't like it, leave" is a perfectly valid attitude there (assuming it's a country you can leave). But in America, the rule is supposed to be, "If you don't like a law, work to change it." It's these overly-patriotic morons who should be forced to leave, as they obviously don't really love America if they know so little about her.

These dirtbags also like to say, "If you're not for us, you're against us." Well, I guess if you're so stupidly intolerant that you can't allow someone to have a neutral opinion about something, then I really am against you. But that doesn't mean I'm going to join your opponent's camp either. Can't you just leave some of us alone?

Similar to this is, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Seriously? Let's look at that.

Okay, problem: Ants keep getting into your house.

Parts of the problem: You're leaving bread crumbs on your counter. There's a gap under your screen door. The unusual amount of rain has caused ants to seek higher ground.

Parts of the solution: Ant poison/baits. Cleaning the house, and keeping it clean. Sealing all entry points. Adopting a pet anteater.

Things that are neither part of the solution, nor part of the problem: Ear muffs. Wildabeast. France. Boxer shorts. The Star Wars Trilogy. William Henry Harrison. Cufflinks. The GEICO Gecko. Mad Magazine. Marilu Henner. Christmas Tree Ornaments. 12-sided dice. Airplanes. That rainbow-wigged "John 3:16" guy. Earlobes. Doonesbury. Communists. C3P0. Bluetooth headsets. Winged monkeys. Rick Astley. Uri Geller. The Korean War. That episode of Friends where they switch apartments. Cowboy Bebop. MySpace. Barney Rubble. Barney Fife. Barney the purple dinosaur. The Monkees. Henna tattoos. Street Fighter II. Frankenstein. The Brady Bunch. Wi-Fi. Tennis. Velociraptors. Bruce Campbell. Captain America. Nude bungee jumping. The Atari 2600. Daleks. Analog watches. Danny Elfman. Velcro shoes. Drow. Plush animals. Gay marriage. White water rafting. A partridge in a pear tree.

Clearly, there are some things/people that are not part of the solution or the problem. If you're having so much trouble identifying neutral things, then perhaps you're part of the problem.

* AONs are also the ones who are hopelessly devoted to their boyfriends/girlfriends right up until the day they completely hate them. What is the deal with that? You know two people for years, maybe even before they got together. You know damn well they're both great people. But when they break up, they each become villains in the other's eyes. And of course, you're stuck taking sides, because obviously to sympathize with one brings ire from the other.

I don't play that game. Unless I already strongly disliked one of them, I simply won't take sides.

Don't you have a setting between love and hate? Can't you just realize that you're both still good people, who just happen to be incompatible mates? Why make things worse for both of you by demonizing the other? Why? Well, because as a human being, it's in your egotistical nature to think, "I'm perfect, so if someone can't get along with me, they must be evil." I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way. You can both be perfect and still be wrong for each other. Quit it, you're making your friends uncomfortable. Try to remember what you first liked about them, and use that as a basis for a friendship. That doesn't mean you still have to go out for pizza together, but it would be nice if you could at least find a way to be in the same room together without fighting.

I'm not saying there aren't evil people out there. Duh. If it turns out one of the breaker-uppers had been beating the other, then of course I would be first in line to take the victim's side. But in most cases I let these things work themselves out. I'm not going to risk fueling a friend's hatred, agreeing with all their insults, only to have an awkward backfire scenario when they inexplicably get back together. I'll be glad to play sympathetic ear for either side, but I refuse to get in the middle. And if you play the "It's them or me" card, I'm choosing them. Because a real friend wouldn't ask me to choose, and therefore you've chosen for me.

Granted, I'm not as angry about the break-up thing as I am about other AON people. I realize that people are emotional creatures, and therefore I can forgive some stupidity during stressful times. But I still refuse to take sides.

* People call me indecisive, and I'm still debating on whether they're right. I'm pretty sure I'm leaning towards maybe. In a way I'm an AON myself, but instead of choosing side A or B, I take my neutrality to the silliest of extremes. Despite my earlier implication, there's really nothing wrong with having a solid opinion. A solid opinion is still a comfortable distance away from a fanatical dogma, and as long you recognize others' rights to their opinions, you're probably doing well.

The bottom line is, don't be afraid of neutrality. Instead of defining yourself by how close you are to the left or the right, try considering how far you are from the middle. There is nothing in this world so perfect that it has to be the only thing. You don't always have to choose between leader or follower, and not everyone can be classified as hunter or prey. While it's fun to root for your favorite football team, it's not traitorous to cheer when the other team makes a fantastic play. Some movies are "fairly decent", and some are "merely okay." There is no one food nutritionally complete enough to fulfill your entire diet. There are two sides to every story, and there can be good people on both sides of a war. It's not wrong to be secure in your beliefs, but you must re-examine them now and then or else you're believing it because that's what you've always believed, and that's never a good reason to believe something, believe me.

I think.


tarot2u said...

"People call me indecisive, and I'm still debating on whether they're right. I'm pretty sure I'm leaning towards maybe."

Are you sure?

Hieronymous Anonymous said...

You, my dear, are awesome. I am holding this post up as proof.

1958Fury said...


Kuronons said...

Heh, I can t agree ! Daleks ARE part of the problem ! :P

Most seriously, I mostly agree with you on the whole. But i tend to think that there are far more than 2 sides of a story.

And imo, you should throw the notions of good and evil to the trash are they re too relative. I mean, these are just feelings from a certain point of view. I d prefer (and even, it s subject to debate) the notions of positive and negative. (These are more objective and quantifiable I think)


1958Fury said...

Thanks, Kuronons!