Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Things I Used to Hate

Okay, maybe not "hate" exactly, but I tended to be dismissive – and sometimes downright scornful -- of a number of things that didn’t interest me. Some of the things I thought were stupid were:

Modern Art
Fashion Design
Golf, Sailing, Polo
Movies with a lot of poop jokes and people falling down
Really expensive cars/clothes
Politics as a career
Really fancy food
Heavy metal music
Romance novels
Interior Decorating
Body piercing
Italian desserts
Self-help books
Anything in Bed, Bath & Beyond

I think there are lots of reasons we dislike or dismiss things, some obvious and some not. The interesting thing (to me) is how much of it has to do with *us* and how little it has to do with the intrinsic qualities of the thing itself.

* Rejecting things helps us define ourselves; it’s not quite “I’m X”, but it *is* “I’m not Z,” which is part of the way there.
* Sailing and expensive cars aren’t likely to be part of my life, so dismissing them is partly sour grapes.
* Rejecting things can make us feel superior; we can distance ourselves from pretension or vulgarity or whatever.
* As previously mentioned on this program, we’re hardwired to make a judgment of some kind about things (Yipe or Goody?); we need to be right, we need certainty.
* We tend to dislike things that scare us or make us feel uncomfortable; things we don’t know much about often fall into this category because of the Yipe/Goody factor mentioned above.
* And one reason I just thought of this week: life is confusing, often chaotic, and there is a lot more potential things to be learned than we have time or brain-power to actually assimilate. Every time we can reject something as outside or beneath our concern, we’ve just made the world simpler; now there is one less thing we ever have to worry about learning or caring about.

Anyway, the point -- which I sort of have -- is that it can be interesting to figure out why we feel the way we do about something. And although navel-gazing is fun in and of itself, it’s actually rewarding if it results in us approaching life with a more open mind. Things become more interesting, and life is less scary.

More to the point, if you start making a list of all the things you dislike, you might find that a lot of your dislikes are pointless.
I mean, what’s the point of hating music? Will hating country or jazz or hip-hop really have that great an effect on how often you have to listen to it? Once your family and friends know your preference, it’s mostly senseless to invest any emotion or time in hating a particular type of music.
I don’t think much of heavy metal or really hard rock in general; it gives me a headache and I mostly fail to identify the musicianship – or melody – in it. That said, I’ve changed my attitude toward it – like body-piercing or other things I don’t understand, I no longer waste any time disdaining it or people who like it – I merely choose not to do it/listen to it myself.

My main point is that many (most?) of our likes/dislikes are about our own internal mental/emotional state and what we do or think to make ourselves feel better. And those dislikes are mostly useless in helping is acquire or achieve the things we want. If you can let go of some of that, it frees you up to concentrate on the things that are really important to you, whatever they are.


At Wed Jan 03, 11:20:00 AM PST, Blogger dkgoodman said...

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. - Anais Nin

At Wed Jan 03, 11:59:00 AM PST, Blogger anya ransuns aka Roxy said...

Aw, man. I thought this was gonna be a post where we list all the stuff we dislike.* Oh well. I have a question though - when did you dislike romance novels? Was it simultaneous with, prior to, or after the stage in which you read them? ;)

*NASCAR: but why?

At Wed Jan 03, 02:47:00 PM PST, Blogger blogball said...

“I’ve changed my attitude toward it – like body-piercing or other things I don’t understand, I no longer waste any time disdaining it or people who like it – I merely choose not to do it/listen to it myself.”

This is a good point Bryan; it took me many years as an adult not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when I saw someone do something or that was really into something on my “stupid list”.

I think many people learn this lesson when they meet someone they are really attracted to and this person might happen to like or be into some of the things on your stupid list. Suddenly those things are off the list because you figure hey if I’m attracted to this person those things can’t be that stupid and if I still think they are really stupid I might be stupid for being with this person.

Now if you happen to break up with this person many people are temped to put all those things you took off of your stupid list back on again. This should only be done if the person that you were with did not take anything off their stupid list for you.

If you both took stuff off from your respective stupid lists when you were together then you are growing and becoming less judgmental in a healthy way. So if this is the case leave them off the list then there will be less to take off when you meet the next person you are attracted to.

Of course the thing you have to watch out for is if you have too many relationships you might start to overlook everything that was on your original stupid list and end up marrying a knick knack collecting body piercing tattooed ballet dancer that listens to heavy metal music the whole time while watching NASCAR or the three stooges and eating fancy foods like Italian desserts in their fancy clothes that they can’t afford because they can’t even pay the bills for the Interior Decorator, the sailboat, the golf clubs and the Bed Bath & Beyond Bill no matter how many self-help books they might read. Then you would think to yourself “how could somebody like that ever get the idea to become a congressperson?” Maybe from one of those stupid romance novels.

At Wed Jan 03, 04:41:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

thx for the quote, dkg.
roxy, i don't really remember my romance-novel period...
blogball, you make me laugh out loud in the Denver airport...

At Wed Jan 03, 04:43:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

PS. if you guys want to list the things you dislike, please go ahead. that's always fun and maybe even good for an argument or if you put an actual person on the list, a severed relationship or two... ;-)

At Wed Jan 03, 06:15:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

Interesting post but I'm not buying all of it. To start out, when you write, "the intrinsic qualities of the thing itself" do you mean to say that these things and activities all have intrinsic qualities? And if so, do some of them have more intrinsic qualities than do others? If so, what criteria are you using? Is watching professional wrestling of less intrinsic value than listening to Mozart? Why?
If by "intrinsic qualities" you mean our genuine love for them, I can't agree with the notion that the primary motive in assigning a dislike to something or some activity is that, "Rejecting things helps us define ourselves" or "make us feel superior." These feelings may very well be "byproducts" of our not liking something but in most cases the initial reason for the dislike is simply that we don't like it or find it emotionally satisfying, or whatever. Same with, "We tend to dislike things that scare us or make us feel uncomfortable" and "we’ve just made the world simpler." Both of these statements may very well be true but this is not our primary motivator for not liking something -- again they are byproducts. It may be true that for some people, the comfort and snob reasons actually ARE the main reason but not usually.
As for not expending any energy on hating something I agree. For my part, like you, I have made some attempt to "appreciate" heavy metal music. I simply can't. I wonder what the fans are hearing or experiencing that I'm not. Am I missing something? On the other hand, do I feel "superior" by feeling sorry for someone who is unable to appreciate a Bach chorale? Perhaps but I don't think this my primary motivation.

At Wed Jan 03, 06:23:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

I do agree with Blogball that our likes and dislikes change to some extent as we are attracted to others. Reminds me of the old flapper song. One verse goes:
"She like rainy days/I never cared for rainy days/But she likes rainy days/And that's my weakness now."

At Wed Jan 03, 07:27:00 PM PST, Blogger dkgoodman said...

I never used to like the really odd colors that girls dye their hair, but I've come to like them. Likewise, I never used to like tattoos, but I've come to like them as well.

But what I still find oogy, what gives me a squick, are piercings. eww, that girl has hardware in her face! Total turnoff here. Makes girls look like the Borg.

At Wed Jan 03, 10:40:00 PM PST, Blogger si said...

great quote, dkgoodman!
blogball -- as usual, you are absolutely hysterical!

at first, i was like anya/roxy -- is this a "dislike-list" post (haven't we "been there/done that" on this site?)? turned out you've switched up again...

agree that one shouldn't waste time/energy on "hating" things. maybe focus more on things that gives one pleasure. (you're doing that, right?) i do think that we have preferences and non-preferences (is this a word?) -- one shouldn't beat oneself up about and/or analyze them too much, imo.

(brain seems to be less fried than before but with this comment, you may not necessarily agree...) :-)

and dancing is on your "former hate list"? well, i know you do, dance, i mean (thot you *slightly* enjoyed it). and assuming that chick-lit books are considered separate from romance books (i THINK there's a distinction). thot you enjoyed some of the former (hope you have since i've recommended a couple to you).

At Wed Jan 03, 11:20:00 PM PST, Blogger si said...

forgot to mention -- self-help books? i guess memory booklets (can't remember [hah] exactly what it was) don't count as self-help? hope not, since this is the gift that keeps on giving -- back to me...

At Thu Jan 04, 11:47:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

thx for comments.

unca, i take your point about "intrinsic qualities" and i also recognize that often our likes and dislikes are "pure" (ie, we simply feel a certain way about something).

maybe i should have said
how much of it has to do with *us* and how little it has to do with how the thing in question would actually affect our lives if we ignored it.

or something like that.

the about-us vs about-the-intrinsic-qualities question is mostly relevant when we say "I hate X because blah blah blah."

i also think many things on the list do have "intrinsic qualities", if you can define those as near-universal -- or at least consistent -- effects that the thing has on people.

tattooing has a (probably negligible) effect on the health of one's skin, in our current societal context it may effectively disqualify one from certain professions, it may affect
our interactions with others (a tattoo of a penis on your face, for example). other than that (ie, if a tattoo is hidden and non-offensive), tattoos are mostly about how we feel about them.

romance novels encourage literacy, employ people in the book industry (and also Fabio-like models), and may influence the reader's view of romance. that's what i think of as their intrinsic qualities.

really fancy food has nourishment value, the preparation employs people, also diverts money from other places it could be spent. the rest is about us.

maybe this still doesn't make any sense, but that's how the issue appeals to me.

At Thu Jan 04, 11:53:00 AM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

i forgot to say:
i think when we simply say "I dont' care for Bed Bath & Beyond, so i don't go there much" we're probably acting on a more "pure" dislike (ie, what unca describes as not liking it or finding emotionally satisfying.)

it's when we actually go out of our way to take a position *against* a certain thing ("hating" it) that it's more often than not about one of the things i listed (superiority, self-definition, sour grapes, whatever).

At Sat Jan 06, 07:10:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

I think your follow-ups make sense, Bryan. Yes, we may genuinely dislike something and then make a big deal out of it to show how sophisticated or cultured we are. NASCAR is a good example. I remember sitting down with my brother-in-law (big fan) and telling him--"Look, I know it takes skill to drive the cars and I know it takes intelligence to work on them and lots of dedication, but I still can't find it interesting." His response was, "well, let's see why you don't like it; you say it takes skill, intelligence, dedication...". He certainly won that round.

At Mon Jan 08, 04:30:00 PM PST, Blogger Ynot said...

I think you are probably growing up. In spite of it all.



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