Tag Archives: entertainment

Valentines as Excitement [Anti-Valentine’s #13]

10 Feb

How can I write a 15th (can you believe I have been talking shit about Valentine’s Day for 15 years??!)  original and unique perspective on Valentine’s Day, I asked myself.  I’ve pretty much covered all the points about why I hate Valentine’s Day and why I want the holiday to be UN-acknowledged.  Here’s what I came up with for this year:  Motivations.  Meaning, what’s the real reason we are so set on celebrating this holiday even though most of us don’t really know that saint and it’s a contrived day?

It is human nature to crave excitement.  Celebrations, holidays, trips, and other things out of the ordinary routine stimulate us and make us more excited to live life.  Routines get boring.  We mostly do the same set of things day after day, week after week, year after year.  We want to break up the monotony. And this is nothing new.  Way back in BC times, the people cavorted around worshiping idols, because they wanted some way to expend this fervent energy they felt. Abraham put the kabosh on that.  A little later in history the Romans also craved excitement.  People would watch people or animals (or even people and animals) in grotesque fights to the death.  And today, there are so many entertaining distractions that it would be overwhelming to mention the all:  Sports, screens, and yes, even Valentine’s Day.

 

But I’m jumping ahead.  Let’s go back, back, way back in time to when Jesus was preaching his message of love and devotion across the land.  People even craved excitement in those Biblical times–and it didn’t go well way back then either.  Let me tell an example story [see disclaimer at the bottom (if you want/need) at {1}].  The story:  A group of people heard the gospel from Jesus and became believers in Christianity.  They were all-in and excited about this new religion.  Some even made implements (like statues) to help them worship God. And they celebrated by drinking, dancing, and praying to these statues and other handmade items.  It was a real worship-party!

Abraham came upon the scene and was aghast.  God considered this “worship” idolatry and was angered by it.  God called Abraham to the top of this mountain, where he told him face to face that the people could not worship any statues, or items of any kind.  It was an affront.  God demanded that Abraham go back to the group of people and convey this message and also to tell them they would be punished if they didn’t stop all the ruckus.

Abraham came off the mountain and told the group what God had personally told him.  The people understood the rules, but felt disappointed.  How could they show their fervor?  So Abraham went back and told God the people would cease all their rambunctious idolatry, but the needed something more…  And that was when God decided people should attend religious ceremony called church every week–so the people could get their fill of excitement.  Even back then people wanted a little pizzazz in their lives–but it came at the expense of angering God and getting punished for that.  But it wasn’t just people in the Bible acting out in order to break up monotony–in one of the most progressive eras with people ahead of their time academically, this diversion-seeking behavior was still a thing.

 

The second example of people craving excitement (and getting a little too hedonistic about it) was during Ancient Roman times.  I will not scar you with the gory (and I do mean exceptionally gory) details of all that went on at the Coliseum.  Unless of course you want more gory details, then check out 2} in the sources at the bottom.  People met at this gathering place to watch and jeer what was going on in the middle of the floor.  I will convey to you a general list of the goings on so you can get an idea of how people wanted entertainment to spice up their lives:

Animals were killed-just for sport:

Animals were decapitated by people.

Rare and exotic animals were hunted for pleasure (in unchecked numbers).

Wild animal were also pitted against each other–to see what species would dominate.

Prisoners and peasants were thrown into the middle of the Coliseum with various wild animals.

Some of these people would commit suicide (in unique ways) rather than getting mauled by an animal.

Execution by crushing.

Crucifixions.

Animals were trained to rape people.

It’s pretty egregious stuff, I think you can agree.  So back then were people just heathens–and now we’re more evolved?  Well, sort of.  We (usually) no longer torture animals for the sake of entertainment.  Though I would argue bull fighting, running with the bulls, swimming with dolphins, circuses, etc, etc… still does plenty of harm to animals for our selfish pleasure.  People are slightly less egregious in the present.  Now instead of increasingly vicious forms of celebration, we desire constancy.  We never want to be bored.  And luckily, the technology boom enables us to be entertained 24/7.  In current times we have sports, social media, really, what don’t we have?  Technology allows people to be continually entertained.  We look at our phones to entertain ourselves constantly.

Think how television has impacted the attention span.  In a study of toddlers, the higher number of hours they spent watching television, the shorter their attention spans were at age seven [3].  Now, extrapolate those results to cell phone use.  Or video games.  Any kind of technology you can think of really–where feedback is almost immediate.  I would guess attention spans are getting worse and worse.  And I can see it in the learning styles of coworkers at my jobs.  Millennials are far more likely to act bored and check their phone while I’m trying to train them than Boomers (in my personal experience as a trainer). Our hunger for constant entertainment has come at the cost of our attention and maybe even learning ability.

We’re hungry for entertainment.  People craved it during Biblical times, they wanted distraction from routine in Roman times, and even today (especially today) we want constant stimulation.  But as we saw, throughout the ages, this merriment comes with a cost.  Getting more hedonistic brings over-stimulation, excess, violence, lost self-control, and worse quality of life through overindulgence.

That’s why Valentine’s Day is even a thing at all.  It’s not necessarily the day or it’s meaning at all–we just want a celebration in that long span of time between New Years and Easter.  But like the above examples, the hunger for distraction gets perverted and out of hand.  Valentine’s Day might not look like animals fighting to the death (which is disgusting and horrific) and it might not be harshly punished by our creator, but it’s a comment of gender roles, sexism, patriarchy, and capitalism–all pretty gross and damaging in their own right when over-done.  Before you blindly seek that stimulation of a holiday, ask yourself if you want to support that or if you’re just looking for that mid-February pick me up.  If it’s the latter, get that boost in a more constructive way.

 

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Sources (and disclaimer):

 

1} I’m going to attempt to tell you a Bible story illustrating my point, but bear with me.  I tried to find the exact story online and in the Bible, but couldn’t.  So I’m going to retell it from memory.  Nevada forces all of their students to take “Western Traditions” courses.  It’s code for mostly Bible study with a day of the Koran in there so they can say it represents diverse religions.  At the time, I just took the course, no real thought.  But today I think-‘who the fuck sanctioned this? What a crock that Nevada college kids have to waste their money and time on something like that.’  It’s called indoctrination.  Anyway, so we had to read various passages of the Bible in class, for homework, and in order to write papers.  I actually enjoyed the stories, as they are action-packed and very dramatic.  A real old-school Days of Our Lives.  I took the class 13 years ago, so the details escape me. I am trying to stay as true to the story as possible, and any Biblical scholars out there–please chime in and tell me:  What Book this is in.  Who the main character is, because I’m not 100% sure, and what group of people we are dealing with…   The gist of the story is the same though, and speaks to my point.

 

2} The Coliseum

https://www.ancient.eu/article/635/roman-games-chariot-races–spectacle/

 

 

3}  https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/113/4/708.short

Results. Data were available for 1278 children at age 1 and 1345 children at age 3. Ten percent of children had attentional problems at age 7. In a logistic regression model, hours of television viewed per day at both ages 1 and 3 was associated with attentional problems at age 7 (1.09 [1.03–1.15] and 1.09 [1.02–1.16]), respectively.

Conclusions. Early television exposure is associated with attentional problems at age 7. Efforts to limit television viewing in early childhood may be warranted