Do you ever get an uncontrollable urge to contradict popular memes? If only for the sake of argument? While I have vowed never to become she who grumbles that society is going to hell in a handbasket, one who finds fault daily with the points of modern thought, I give up when it comes to overly popular concepts. I mutter, under my breath, as the media rehashes ideas.
Oh what the heck. Let’s mutter out loud.
For example, anyone else tired of the French? Not as actual humans, they’re lovely, as is their architecture and embroidery. But as benchmarks for skills of all sorts? It was probably The French Make Better Parents Than You that put me over the edge. I worked as a camp counselor in France for two months, when I was 18, and I lived the good and not so good of that country’s child-rearing ways.
I scarcely dare mention French style.
Yeah, yeah, I get it, Parisians are less prone to totally dowdy outfits than, let’s say, tourists in Santa Barbara. But that’s an imprecise comparison and lack of precision always renders me both ornery and logical. We need a tighter analysis.
If Paris has 2.2 million people, we might reasonably compare Parisiens to the most stylish 2/3 of Los Angeles’ 3.8 population, relying on the political gerrymander to choose whichever cluster of zipcodes gives us the best result. Where’s the book on Pacific Palisades Style, we wonder?
Or take Houston. A city of 2.1 million, it matches up quite well to Paris. Houstonians do a bang-up job of raising their children. They’ve also got amazing food, by the way. Who will write that manifesto?
OK. We’ll leave the French alone. And wave to Tish Jett’s book, as we go, which is lovely.
Can we move on to the much-celebrated introvert? The book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, markets the introvert’s case well. We know that Them What Invents The Language Own The Discourse, a fact that makes the logical almost as ornery as any afore-mentioned imprecise comparisons.
The logical find themselves parsing out statements. For example, what if we actually had a world that DID stop talking? Without extroverts, who will run the meetings? I mean, nobody’s going to write a book entitled “Loud: The Power of Extroverts” and think it a good thing. But have some compassion. It’s not easy to be the one compelled to present, the one who glad hands, the one who stands up.
In the end, I have nothing against either the French, or introverts. I understand that the French have become a symbol of graceful restraint, in both aesthetics and mores. (Except the male politicians and their behavior towards women, of course, but we so need the idea of French that we ignore that cognitive dissonance.) I also understand that introverts have suffered through How To Make Friends And Influence People for decades, and are now having their moment in a time characterized by the irritating talk of millions.
It’s the principle of the argument. Let’s honor the human capacity to reason.
Were I the marketing sort, I’d start a new meme, In Praise Of The Logical, arguing for more rigor all around. Ah, but if it took off I’d probably find myself taking the contrary stance and arguing the case for pure sentiment.
So in that vein, my friends, have a wonderful weekend. Or feel free to share any contrarian urges here, you’re amongst friends.
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