Monday, December 06, 2010

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Baby Pandas

So I've started to realize lately that my Facebook posts come in 2, and pretty much only 2 varieties: either they are little anecdotes about my day to day life or they are links to pictures of baby animals and/or neato geeky articles or hilarious news stories. This was not always so. I think that I used to be far more political with my Facebook posts, and my journaling in general, but that has pretty much gone by the wayside. I can't tell you the last time I've written about wanting to punch Glenn Beck in the face, not because I don't still want to (who doesn't, really?) but because I genuinely feel that my time is better spent looking at baby pandas.

Now my husband on the other hand, LOVES politics. He spends much of his free time watching MSNBC, or flipping to watch Fox News to find out "what the enemy is thinking." I've told him time and again that this is a fundamentally unproductive activity, that his time could be much better spent on watching the panda cam or going to Cute Overload or any other far more pleasurable entertainments. He says the reason he watches TV news and listens to NPR is so that he can have some facts to counter individuals he comes across who have certain beliefs on the subject of, say, Don't Ask Don't Tell, without any clear evidence to back up their opinions. I question the soundness of that rational, not just because the news media only provides cursory background information on complex subjects, but because I fundamentally don't believe that arguing with people about politics/religion/vegetarianism/vaccinations/gay rights, even rationally, has any affect whatsoever. You might think that this is pessimistic of me, and I suppose it is, but I don't think that it is incorrect. Now, there are certain cases where you might be able to persuade somebody to come to your side on an issue, but I'd say that these are probably minor points on which you deviate, though you hold the same fundamental opinion. For example, you might be able to argue rationally with somebody who is for repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell but doesn't think that it is a pressing issue that Congress needs to spend its time on that it IS in fact an issue that needs to be dealt with immediately and that people's lives and liberties are at stake. But you aren't going to convince a vegetarian that they should eat meat and you aren't going to convince me to become a vegetarian (cuz, guess what? Meat is yummers).

Which brings me to baby pandas. Who doesn't like baby pandas? Liberal and Conservative, gay and straight, Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist; we all like pandas. There was some study done years ago that I recall that tried to explain why it is that we love baby animals (came down to disproportionately large heads and round bodies) but I don't think we really need a study to tell us that fluffy baby animals are cute. They are soft and fluffy and make you think about holding them, which releases endorphins in your brain and makes you happy. The End. It's science. The only argument that could really be caused by baby pandas is whether some diety created them simply for us to find them adorable or whether the forces of nature and evolution conspired to develop the cuteness (or that our brains evolved to find poofy fat things cute). But this argument can easily be diffused by looking at more pictures of baby animals in hilarious poses and all the water is under the bridge. A vegetarian might ask, "But Joanne, if you love cute animals so much why do you want to eat them?" To which I would respond, "Well I don't want to eat THAT particular piglet in the little rain boots, and I highly doubt my bacon came from him" and then before they have time to counter that unreasonable argument, I can show them another picture of a giant pile of baby pandas and all is forgotten. This is the power of baby animals.

So I ask you, friends. What purpose does it serve to start heated political arguments on a site like Facebook? Do you genuinely believe that you will ever convince nonbelieving friends to your side through posts sandwiched between Farmville requests and "What Harry Potter character are you?" quizzes? Or are you simply trying to induce a sympathetic response from friends who already hold the same opinions as you, in which case, yeah, we get it, Sarah Palin is dumb. I say why bother at all. There are so many wondrous things in this world like organisms that can digest arsenic and space planes and dancing dogs. Maybe if you spent even half the time you would have been getting angry and just look at all the wonderful things around you that you might live a happier life. Because, lets face it, the dumb people out there (no matter who you think those people are) aren't going to go away any time soon. So relax. Take two pandas and call me in the morning.

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