I like it because it’s good. It’s good because I like it.

May 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

After a day of discovering foursquare (who knew how creepy that could be?) and discussing whether or not everyone being in a state of constant euphoria is a good thing (n0), there is this, from everyone’s favorite Pulitzer Prize losing author and the New York Times:

“We can all handle being disliked now and then, because there’s such an infinitely big pool of potential likers. But to expose your whole self, not just the likable surface, and to have it rejected, can be catastrophically painful. The prospect of pain generally, the pain of loss, of breakup, of death, is what makes it so tempting to avoid love and stay safely in the world of liking.

And yet pain hurts but it doesn’t kill. When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived. Even just to say to yourself, “Oh, I’ll get to that love and pain stuff later, maybe in my 30s” is to consign yourself to 10 years of merely taking up space on the planet and burning up its resources. Of being (and I mean this in the most damning sense of the word) a consumer.”

Here’s the rest of it: Technology Provides an Alternative to Love

Love is hard work, Jonathan Franzen. My question is, what is the purpose of this “like-world,” shallow, internet self? Why do we want our ideal selves to be liked when it’s our shitty, crying-at-the-grocery-store-sometimes selves that are loved? I suppose just that it’s easier to “like” someone’s link to Steve Albini’s food blog (http://mariobatalivoice.blogspot.com/) than it is to take your bag full of existential shit and say “hey, hang on to this for a while.” Because they can potentially give back and possibly add to all that shit and that is scary and yeah, fucking hurts. But we can both just agree it’s cool that Steve Albini has a food blog. It’s not a more satisfying relationship in the end, but it’s easier–and so do we, our internet selves, just try to accumulate a bunch of easy internet relationships and likes in order to offset the work that is love?

Anywho, I’d say more, but it’s my birthday. Almost.

J

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§ One Response to I like it because it’s good. It’s good because I like it.

  • M says:

    I’ll leave aside Franzen’s definition of everyone’s ideal erotic relationship, because it nauseates me.

    Liking is easy. Loving is fucking hard. And I do think, J, that in some ways we accumulate our easy internet and online relationships and selves in order to offset the hard work of living and loving. If I’ve just gotten off the phone after fighting with a friend (and let’s assume here that for once this kind of action doesn’t coincide with my sobbing for an hour), it can be an ego boost to log on and look at my menagerie of facebook friends, those people who “know” and “like” me and are there to get updates on my every move because I’m so damn likable, those people I “know” and “like” in return because they’re fabulous and easy to get along with and ask so little of me. Sure beats crying over why my friend rages like a 2-year old when he’s hurt, and it beats confronting why his tantrums make me freak out like the world is ending. Loving and being loved take energy and focus and a lot of painful laboring, and we can do that for a tiny number people in our lives. For the rest we have a few charming character traits we offer them, and they offer us theirs in return, and everyone is in like. As a terrible non-example, I really love Zaftigs. But I don’t want every restaurant to be Zaftigs – sometimes it’s too crowded and the other customers suck, and there’s always that one fly hovering around your food, and it’s all so heavy and so much of it, and the water glasses leave perpetual condensation drops, and one time they ran out of stuffing for the Raphel and I wanted to cry – and I’m glad there are other places, with lighter food I enjoy just fine, and enough space between tables so no one annoys me. I don’t love other places, and I don’t have the energy to invest in knowing those places’ quirks and idiosyncracies. I don’t want to. They’re there for ease and convenience and texture, a contrast to the intense deal I got going with Zaftigs.

    More concerning to me is the lack of choice involved – for everything in the world, we can like or dislike. Thumbs up, thumbs down. Are we permitted no more complex interaction with things? I can’t possibly like or dislike the movie Greenberg or the works of (hey, why not?) Jonathan Franzen – I am frustrated and piqued and irritated and made to feel alive and impressed and then annoyed, but above all I am engaged, actively engaged and questing (yep, made that up) and struggling. How on earth can you make me lump all that into “like” or “dislike”, and why would you want to?

    M

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