This afternoon I found myself ruminating over a comment on Kimli’s blog. The post wasn’t really about anything, but the comments section turned into a discussion around this man’s statement, which began as such:
I don’t have a TV in the house and never have. I don’t have a gaming console in the house and never will. We have no processed sugar of any description, no junk food, few plastics, no trash toys. Our vacations are bike tours and backpacking trips, rather than Disneyland and roadside food.
The first thing I did, actually, was email the full quote to my mom and thank her for not bringing me up that way. Gotta show appreciation, you know.
The commenter himself actually sounds like a nice person who just happens to have a parenting style which involves spitting on pop culture, as is his wont. I haven’t dealt with parents like that all that often, but what I have dealt with are some of the results of that sort of parenting. I have dated those results, even.
I am better than you because I don’t have a TV.
I’ve heard that one often. I’m sure some of you have, too. Maybe some of you actually believe this yourselves. Frankly, I’d find other ways to measure people than by the contents of their living rooms; from the limited sample size of my experience, not having a TV doesn’t make a person more interesting or cultured than anyone else. In fact, saying that statement out loud makes you a douche.
You have a cat? I’ve never had a pet. You should feel lucky, I said I’d never date a girl with a cat.
I’ve heard variations of that one a couple times. It was so relieved to hear this, having had no idea up until that point that I should feel ashamed for being a pet owner. Their gracious condescension in debasing themselves to be with me is so selfless. Please excuse me while I go off my cat in order to be worthy of them.
Sometimes when I’ve met the parents of people who have said such shit to me, they have bragged about how they brought up the child: with only classical music playing in the house, sent to private schools, given private lessons and memberships into exclusive clubs, etc. Plus anything having to do with the child being kept away from the average, the public, the mainstream. Their kid (well, adult at this point) is so amazing because of this upbringing that I’m supposed to be in awe of their superiority. Oh, the parents say, you’re doing well yourself? You’re in a successful career? That must be so great for you, given how you were brought up so ordinarily. Keep breaking down those walls, young lady! Don’t ever let your upper-middle-class childhood hold you back!
What worries me about people who think like this is that they’re narcissists. And/or they’ve brought up narcissists. Who believe they are great because of X and other people are not great because of Y and every person in the world is judged and categorized by these rules that were drilled into them in childhood. You as an individual doesn’t matter; it’s what you look like on the surface. You watch TV, so you must be a dull slob. You have a cat? I feel so sorry for you! Such people make friends based on these categorizations because they need actors to play the parts of their friends in the movie of their life. I’ve seen people only make friends with “losers” in order to make themselves look good in comparison. Or they want their wife or girlfriend to dress a certain way because in their heads it symbolizes and reinforces their ego.
When I was younger, I was enthralled by narcissists. Plagued with low self-esteem, I envied and aspired to be like the people who just seemed to exude confidence and be so absolutely sure of everything they did and every judgment they made. I actually felt bad for not living up to their standards (damn cat, why must be you be so cute?) and it was the biggest relief when I got over it and saw them for the jerks they are. So I worry when I hear parents boasting about how they’re bringing their child up to be extraordinary and away from the petty masses who would only bring them down with their “brain poison”. Here’s hoping the kids come to their senses.
(Hats off to The Last Psychiatrist for explaining this. Highly recommended reading.)