Variations on a meme go around every now and then, and I saw it again recently:
Without relentlessly criticizing, could we let people have their pumpkin spice, and avocado toast, and their fandoms, and their D&D, and their too-early-Halloween decorations, and whatever little harmless things in which they’ve managed to find a tiny shriveled flower of joy?
What is it about a nasty overpriced drink that makes the worst in people come out? I don’t like pumpkin spice, lattes, or the chain that popularized them, but the good news is: I don’t have to buy or drink them. And if I’m spending time with someone who is drinking one, it has no effect on me.
More good news: I don’t have to spout my opinion when someone else decides to drink them. And I can even be happy for them when they’re excited that this seasonal drink is back in season, because it makes them happy. If I can really appreciate their joy, not only does it allow them to sit in the joy for a minute, it elevates my day a notch as well.
You can’t truly share in someone’s joy and be cranky at the same time, even if the joy is over a drink. Maybe instead of trying to make them less happy, try to make yourself more happy.
Likewise with Halloween decorations. There are people who love Halloween to the extent that they spent money on all sorts of crap that they have to store for most of the year, all so they can enjoy it for a few weeks in October. Am I going to do that? Nope. Do I get joy from other people’s Halloween setups? Not usually. Does it matter? No. Put ‘em up the first week in October and get a whole month out of them. Why not?
Christmas decorations out too early bug me. The gross consume-fest that has become the months-long Christmas season in general makes me bristle. Again—my opinion on other people’s decorations doesn’t matter, and neither does yours.
(The exception to that would be if you’re near a house with a tremendously complex light display that is going to 1-light up your house; 2-play music that you have to listen to; 3-cause traffic on your street. In any of those cases, your opinion matters some, or it should.)
It’s not my neighbor’s responsibility to cater to my irritations regarding Christmas decorations on their house in November.
While we can have consumerist and capitalist arguments for and against these habits, that’s never what the conversation is actually about. At least not the conversations I’ve witnessed.
When you feel yourself ready to snark about some trivial thing, try a few steps.
First, employ your filter—whether spoken or typing—and keep it to yourself. I admit that I struggle with this with regards to people who love Christmas or Disney.
Second, take a moment to look at what it’s triggering for you. Why is this small thing bothering you so much? Maybe you can figure it out quickly and maybe you can’t. It’s worth a minute or two of your brain power either way. Maybe it’ll take four of five repetitions of the same thing before you have an ah-ha! moment and know why this insignificant thing is so bothersome to you.
Doing this helps you to make the world a little bit nicer and it helps you learn about yourself a little bit more. Win-win.