I receive quite a bit of pushback on this post. Specifically, readers felt that the list was an indictment of anyone engaging in these behaviors.
I want to address this concern in two ways.
First, I pointed out to my critics that the pride I feel in not doing something does not automatically impugn the behavior or character of someone who does.
The example I used most often was my vegan friends. I know several ethical vegans who take pride in the fact that they do eat meat and do not contribute to the unnecessary death of animals. I understand this sentiment and can appreciate it, but I do not assume that the pride they feel about their diet implies that meat eaters like myself are bad people or that they think less of me.
Even if this was the implication (and it might well be), what the hell do I care if a vegan thinks that eating a cheeseburger makes me bad?
The pride I feel in never having watched a show like The Bachelor should not cause you any angst if you watch the show. If it does, I would suggest that you probably already feel bad about watching the show, and my list is only serving to highlight a feeling that already resides within you.
What the hell do you care what I think if you are doing something that you believe is right?
But here is a more important point:
It would've been easy for me to limit my list to less potentially offensive items. I knew that placing things like popular reality television shows, lottery ticket and selfies on the list would risk offending some readers.
But there comes a time when a person has to stand behind unpopular opinions because he or she believes that they are right. While the inclusion of the selfie on the list was admittedly more tongue-in-cheek than the rest, it’s true that I have never taken one nor spoken that word aloud.
But when it comes to The Jersey Shore, The Kardashian people and The Bachelor/Bachelorette, I think these programs are crap and only serve to feed our celebrity-driven, image-obsessed, shallow-end-of-the-pool culture. Many, many people watch these programs and enjoy them, but I wish they wouldn’t. I think they are at best a waste of time and at worst a damaging aspect of our culture.
I feel the same way about lottery tickets, cigarettes and illegal drugs. The fact that I have never purchased or used any of these items admittedly places me in an extreme minority, but I think all three items are to be avoided if at all possible.
I’m taking a stand.
Do I think you should be offended if you buy a Powerball ticket once a week or watch The Bachelor with friends on Monday nights?
No. It’s just one man’s opinion.
I think the idea that a list like this is mean-spirited, snobbish, self serving or divisive is nonsense. We’re too damn careful in today’s world. Too nervous about offending.
It’s stupid to smoke. It’s potentially dangerous and unnecessary to use illegal drugs. It’s economically unsound to purchase lottery tickets. And it only serves to perpetuate and enhance this celebrity-obsessed culture by turning on The Bachelor or The Jersey Shore.
This is how I feel.
I also believe that the National Football League probably contributes to violence in our culture and is permanently damaging the bodies and brains of its players. It’s clearly the the stupidest of the major sports in terms of safety and its contribution to our culture. Yet I am a season ticket holder and an enormous fan of the game.
Am I angry at myself for impugning my own behavior?
Of course not.
Am I a bad person for continuing to support this questionable sport.
But I think doing so is at least a little stupid.
I am fine if you think the same.
This is how I feel about the items of my list. I think it is probably at least a little stupid to engage in them, and with some of them, I think it’s profoundly stupid. But we all engage in stupid behavior. My list simply highlights the ones that I have managed to avoid so far.
If I want to be proud of myself for having avoided cigarettes, lottery tickets, swearing in the presence of my mother and The Jersey Shore, this should not bother you. If it does, make your own damn list. I’m sure you have plenty to be proud of, and perhaps some of the items on your list are things that I do every day.
Maybe that will make you feel better.