Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Flamingo Analogy

"The world's toughest flamingo is still a flamingo."

Sometimes when I stop by the flamingo pen at the zoo, I'll see two flamingos fighting. This always makes me laugh, because really, what's this fight going to prove? Sure, you might be the strongest, but you're still a skinny pink bird with a crooked beak and a wormlike neck. When you're one of nature's silliest animals, there's no extra prestige in being the biggest and baddest one. Just picture a flamingo in a leather jacket and shades, sporting skull tattoos.  Intimidating, no?  No.

This analogy comes to mind whenever I see two "silly" groups fighting with each other.  For example, Twilight fans had "Team Edward" vs "Team Jacob".  No one ever wins these arguments, but even if you did, you'd still be a loser.  So if you ever hear me dismiss an argument as a "flamingo fight", that's what I mean.

It's hard for me to say this without insulting my more reverent friends, and so I apologize for this in advance.  But I also consider this analogy whenever I see two religious groups attacking each other. It doesn't matter if it's Christians vs Muslims, or Baptists vs Presbyterians, or Jehovah's Witnesses vs Mormons. From an outsider's point-of-view, all these religions are equally unlikely.

Lest you think I'm being snobbish, I'm not immune to the flamingo analogy. Everyone has their own flamingo threshold.  I've argued with my fellow geeks on many subjects that ordinary mortals would find pointless.  I've participated in internet flame wars over the best edition of Dungeons and Dragons.  I've been involved in heated discussions over the greatest Star Trek captain. 

So if I ever dismiss a battle you believe in as a flamingo fight, well, I'm sorry.  I know these things are important to people, and I should respect the believer if not the belief.  On the other hand, if you laugh along with me while I make fun of arguments between Twilight fans, Mormons, or rap artists, but suddenly get offended when I include something you like, then we're probably headed to the same hell together.