Thursday, July 13, 2017

Zoe vs. The Day of (No) Judgment

Shame has gotten a bad reputation. Which has been good. Mostly. But maybe it's time for the pendulum to swing back the other way a bit. I'm not just saying that because of the Kardashians.
And before you get all finger-wagging at me and say, "You should be ashamed wanting to bring back shame," let me explain. I think there's a lot of shame that's a complete waste of time---self-inflicted or subsidized by the self-righteous---and should be dispensed with, mainly about things that can't be helped, like the body or mind a person was born with, or complicated choices in parenting (breast vs. bottle is my prime example), and I think calling out the judgmental people who want other people to carry shame over these things is good.
In fact, dispelling shame is in its heyday. A sign of this is how it's slipped over into comedy. Anyone who's ever scarfed down an entire chocolate cake in one sitting knows that they'll get a laugh if, after wiping the last crumb from their mouth, they say, "Don't judge me." And it's funny!
But now there's a "don't judge me" epidemic. I know this is true because Zoe's started saying it.
The other morning Zoe put her sneakers on backwards, and when I called her on it, she put up her hand and said, "Don't judge me."

Shame

Zoe is my bellwether for when something's wrong. She's my pint-size glitch in the matrix. So I thought about "don't judge me" and then applied Kant's Categorical Imperative, if it was in first grade. Basically the Categorical Imperative (first grade version) says: If you think you're right to do something, would you still think so if Zoe's entire first grade class did it too?
(My college philosophy professor just beat himself to death with a copy of Kant's Metaphysics of Morals just so he could have a grave to roll over in. Philosophy was not my subject. I preferred literature. I was always interested in why a character did what they did, not what they should've done. After all, if all the characters in a novel did what they should, you'd have a very boring story. Take that, Kant!)
Back to "don't judge me," the next generation's "whatever." Maybe Zoe got it from the older kids at her aftercare. Or maybe it's more recent, from the teenage counselors at her summer camp. But she's been saying it willy-nilly and out of context for a couple of weeks now.
Anything from dropping her Go-Gurt on the rug to tripping over a toy to turning on Paw Patrol, she'll tack on a "Don't judge me."
I find the whole thing especially amusing because I consider myself judgmental---how do I say this without sounding obnoxious? (Can't do it)---on a higher plane than most people. My judgment is better than your judgment. Try to judge me but I'm right.
Lately, I've noticed a misplaced "sensitivity" sweeping the internets and sometimes in real life where we give standing ovations to those who say, Look, I didn't judge today! High-five me!
Well, I can stand by no longer with my hands in either clap or high-five mode. I think people are suffering from a misunderstanding, but don't worry, I'm here to set everyone straight.
We've already covered the obvious wrong of judging people for things they can't help. And if "wrong" is unpersuasive, it's also cheap, classless, and lacks subtlety.
Where people can and, oftentimes, should be judged I classify into two areas:
1. Actions, especially when they affect other people.
And
2. If they don't read AND are proud of it. 
I've met a few people in my life who are proud non-readers. I was thinking of starting a crowdfunding page to make little hoods with zippers that I can slip over non-reader people's heads and then slowly zip them up up up so the world never has to look at their "I don't like to read" faces again. They probably don't even know what the serial comma is. Don't get me started.
Judgment is healthy. It's natural. It can be useful as a corrective for awful behavior. Humans are social beings, and what's more social than getting together and judging people like Adele and Matt Allen, who do shameless things like starting a gofundme so they can be "self-sufficient." Have you heard about them?
You may recall Ms. Allen as the woman who wrote about having a lotus birth, which is basically, well . . . you know how Ben Franklin said guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days? That, but with placentas.
I thought the post-natal placenta pal was the most disgusting thing ever. Until I wrote this.
Anyway, the Allens perfected irony by asking strangers to give them money so they could be self-sufficient. They want to buy some land in Costa Rica, take their offspring (I assume sans placentas), and live off the grid, though they still somehow plan to blog---perhaps by harnessing the energy caused by everyone on the planet rolling their eyes at the same time.
And don't tell me, Well, they have the right to ask, it doesn't mean you have to give them your money. Because we both know I'm not talking about stepping on rights or freedoms, I'm talking about the greatest right there is: the right to roll your eyes when confronted with idiocy. DO YOU HEAR THE "STAR-SPANGLED BANNER" IN YOUR HEAD YET? No? Maybe it's because I'm yelling.
Similarly, the new kid in the IT department has the right to wear a man-bun, but I reserve the right to shake my head and mutter, "That's a damn shame right there," when he walks by.
It's okay, he can't hear me. He's wearing headphones bigger than his head. And one time he wore a romper. But did I report him to HR? No!

Judgment
When words fail, you can be sure taste failed first.

Because above all I'm charitable, live and let live, I say, until I have a bad ride on the subway and start nursing fantasies of becoming a dictator and ordering forced sterilizations for everyone on my train car.
When I say this, some people laugh and other people raise their eyebrows, and I'm not going to tell you which reaction is appropriate. And that's because I'm a short person with slow-twitch muscles who bruises easily, so my only defense mechanism is making people uneasy, unable to determine my exact level of crazy.
We all work with what we've got. Don't judge me. Or, hey, do what you want.

Zoe: 168; Universe: 0
If you enjoyed this post, you may like this other one where I tried to sound like I wasn't being judgmental but totally was. 

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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