Taking a step back

I’m very lucky to have been able to work remotely during this pandemic. Removing my commute and all the preparation and expense involved with going somewhere else just to do work I could realistically do anywhere has given me a significant chunk of extra time and saved me a lot of money. As far as I’m concerned, this is the way the kind of work I do should be done.

There’s another more interesting benefit to all of this that I hadn’t expected: I’m enjoying my own interests more. I used to read a ton of analytical articles about sports, wrestling, media, and video games on my commute, at lunch, or at my desk when I needed to take a break. The only distractions I had access to in my previous working life were those accessible through my smart phone or my work computer’s web browser, and the only way to really connect with my interests through those devices was by reading reviews, critiques, and think pieces.

The problem with those, of course, is that they rely on super granular analysis, snark, and negativity to generate the clicks that get them paid. These columnists examine the things they love through a lens so powerfully analytical that it often sucks the joy right out of the topic. Message boards, forums, and reddit often take a similar approach. Now this is not to say that all criticism of our entertainment is negative or useless. On the contrary, such feedback is imperative for all artists to grow, and reviews are extremely useful to interested consumers. But when you’re spending your time writing three-hundred word paragraphs on every line uttered on a professional wrestling show, well…you’re overthinking it, probably even more so than those involved in producing it. That’s a waste of time.

But that I’m significantly less involved in that world, it’s easier to sit back and enjoy the things I like. I can smile at Shinsuke Nakamura without being reminded of someone telling me he’s being under-utilized or that he’s not putting the effort in. I can laugh at my horrible baseball team without feeling like any jackass could’ve done a better job building a functional roster. I’m having a good time watching the Patriots for the first time in years because I’m not picking apart everything that’s happening on every play. I’m downloading and having fun with a wider variety of video games just because they look cool and the headlines I skimmed were mostly positive. And I can do it all without feeling like I need to rush through it just to keep pace with the rest of the world.

And just as importantly, I can discuss all of these things without coming off as some condescending fanboy who’s never going to be happy with the media he claims to like. I can finally retire the neckbeard and fedora and hang out with the normies.

Understanding what we like and why is definitely a good thing – but getting so deep into the details that we lose sight of the qualities we found attractive absolutely hinders our ability to appreciate what we’re watching, reading, playing, and listening to. None of our beloved media content is perfect and we shouldn’t expect it to be. Taking a step back from being super critical of whatever you’re into will help you love it all the more. After all, it’s just entertainment.

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