#2. Arguing on the Internet
It seems like the greatest advantage the Internet age has over the long-lost days of print is that writers can now interact with their readers. Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, if you read something wrong or that you disagreed with in the newspaper, your only recourse was to either write the editor a letter that they may or may not ever actually see or quietly seethe out your rage in your living room, perhaps while smoking a Sherlock Holmes pipe made out of a velociraptor skull (I am so, so bad at history). But these days, it's easy to just post a comment -- even if the discussion becomes a rage-spittle-filled frolic through the halls of murder-threats, adding more views to a discussion always makes it better, right?
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Just like how playing rock music over an orchestra means even more music.
No, because reading angry comments actually makes you dumber, and as if that wasn't bad enough, listening to people complain also makes you dumb. If you read an article about Power Rangers (I seriously can't believe they're doing that, it's going to be so rad, you guys), it doesn't matter what you believed or what it says. Angry comments, whether you agree with them or not, make your brain get stuck: You become either more stubbornly wrong or more obnoxiously right. It turns out that the worst part of picking a fight online isn't, ya know, the fact that you end up fighting online; it's that you're ruining the conversation for absolutely everyone else.
Am I saying that all comments are terrible? God, no, of course not. Nothing is always terrible, except a bottle of scotch that you paid less than $25 for (depending on what state you live in). But if you flip out in comments and type angry words at the author or other readers, yes, you're actually making the world a worse place, please stop.
We're all counting on you.
#1. Thinking That Human Nature Is Easier to Change Than Anything Else
Whenever you hear people complain about the rise in divorce rates, the assumption is always that it's a problem with "people these days." Typifying the issue (I went to college) is the un-relationshipping of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, who have the gall to call their "divorce" (which is such an ugly word) a "conscious uncoupling" (which sounds like something I'd be told to do during an acid trip). Due in no small part to the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow is, ya know, who she is, the idea of "conscious uncoupling" has become yet another hilarious joke in the punchline of her existence, and another indicator that love is dead, because modern people are a bunch of divorce-happy roustabouts without an ounce of integrity coursing through their drug-addled, whippersnappery veins.
It's another "people these days" problem, which is a helpful phrase because it indicates that the person speaking hasn't put any fucking thought into what they're saying. The reason people are the way they are is, at least partly, because of the society they grew up in, and marriage itself is a huge part of that. So is marriage the reason for divorce? Ha! Kinda. Or maybe rising divorce rates have less to do with the fact that people these days suck and more to do with the fact that people are outliving their relationships.
"No passing judgment unless you've also spent 40 years fucking only one person."
Once upon a time, people got married, had kids, and then their bodies died from the exhaustion of getting married and having kids. But these days we have penicillin and Red Bull, so we're living for-goddamn-ever. Some relationships just aren't standing the test of time, not because they're bad relationships, but because the time-test just had a hell of a difficulty spike. That's not a bad thing, it's just a thing. But marriage has been about "till death do you part" for so long that we've decided it would be easier to change unhappy people than it would be to change the institution of marriage -- even though we originally came up with marriage to be a thing that made people happy. So maybe we should start letting people have more than one long-term relationship in their life without labeling all but the last one as "failed."
What's this belabored point I'm getting to? The idea of "conscious uncoupling" is the most insanely fine thing I've ever heard of. I can't even conceive of a perspective that makes it bad, aside from the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow is using it.