Archive for April 23rd, 2021

The other day I saw a tweet in which someone expressed incredulity that others might not like something he likes.  Now, beyond this statement I’m not going to comment on the obvious silliness of the idea that everyone should like the same things, because I think normal people who aren’t cases of arrested development learn that sometime around the age of four or five.  Nor am I going to mention what specific thing he was tweeting about, because it really isn’t important to the point I want to make.  And that point is, there are lots of reasons a person might desire something in the abstract, yet never partake of it in reality.  No substance, object, activity, or other thing a person might like exists as a Platonic ideal; regardless of what pleasure or benefit someone might derive from a thing, there are always costs, drawbacks, side effects, complications or other negatives which tend to counteract the benefits.  And so every responsible adult decision to indulge in a pleasure requires consideration of the give and take:  Can I afford this?  Can I handle the negative health effects?  Do I have time today?  Will it somehow harm those I care about?  Obviously, immature, irresponsible, or foolish people often skip this consideration, with predictable consequences; so do those suffering addiction or mental health issues around the desired thing.  And puritans (or, again, people suffering from certain psychological or emotional disorders) often do exactly the opposite by denying themselves a pleasure whose negative effects are trifling, imaginary, or both.  But well-balanced individuals may very well refuse themselves things they would very much like to enjoy because in their judgment, the negative factors outweigh the positive.  I can’t help looking at the wide variety of delicious candies on display every time I go shopping, but I never buy them because I want to maintain my figure; I don’t drink nearly as much liquor as I’d like for exactly the same reason.  At this exact moment I’d prefer to be stoned, but I’m delaying that gratification so as to finish this essay; there are other drugs I haven’t partaken of for a while because I prefer to enjoy them with companions who have been isolating for the past year due to their own health concerns.  Pretty girls are nice to look at, but experience has taught me that doing more than looking is always more trouble than it’s worth, and as I wrote in “Out of the Dark“,

…there are some things I’ve found very hot my entire life yet have never acted on, and probably never will.  And there are other things I’ve tried, enjoyed and still find hot as hell, but will probably never act on again because they either come with too much baggage or it’s much too difficult to find the right person or persons to do them with.

And this, I think, is the main reason the tweet I spoke of at the beginning annoyed me so much:  if someone doesn’t share your likes it may simply be a matter of different strokes, or it may be that they do share them, but are less fortunate than you in being able to afford their economic, social, practical, or emotional costs.

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