Things I Just Don’t Get

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Here are some of the things I don’t get about modern life:

War. You’d think we would have learned our lesson by now. I really thought that Vietnam would change the way Americans looked at war forever and that we’d be dead set against getting involved in another one. The fact that the leaders are old enough to know better only makes it worse.

Attitudes toward women. I thought men would be more fair toward women than they were before the feminist movement. Although there has been outward improvement, I think it’s all too clear that inward attitudes are the same. Men just don’t like women to have the upper hand.

Attitudes toward feminism. People are still uncomfortable with the concept. They still picture feminists as angry, hairy, ugly, bitter men-haters.

Speaking of hairy, I don’t get Brazilian waxes. I mean, seriously??

But then I don’t get how women can feel comfortable wearing the teeny-weeny bikinis that make it necessary to remove all that offensive hair.

Some people’s reluctance to marry. What’s so bad about marriage? True, if you never marry, you never have to go through divorce, but break-ups are always painful. Or is it just that divorces cost too much? It’s cheaper to stay single. Less entanglements should something go wrong. And yet …

People will complicate their lives by having babies  outside of  marriage. If you’re not still with the father, that’s one thing. I don’t have a problem with having babies out of wedlock (what an antiquated term!) when you don’t want or have the father around. But if he is there, and he wants to be with you and you with him, then why not get married? How does it make your children feel when one or both of you refuse to make that commitment to stay together? And don’t tell me that your relationship is just like a marriage. If it is, why not make it official?

Over-the-top weddings. Some people put off marriage because they can’t afford the wedding they want to have. Why not live within your budget? Why saddle yourselves (or your parents) with debt?

Destination weddings to far-away places. How many people have the money to fly thousands of miles just to get to your wedding in some exotic location? And then you still expect a wedding present?

Texting. Why do people go out of their way to avoid hearing each other’s voices? I can see texting when you don’t want to disturb other people, but why are you texting during a meeting or a class anyway? Shouldn’t you be paying attention instead? Besides, not everyone has unlimited texting and I resent people costing me money when they’re the ones sending the text. (Of course, this is probably something to take up with the cell phone companies.)

Noisy libraries. What happened to the sanctuaries dedicated to learning? Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting that libraries are little more than video stores these days.

Unwillingness to fund libraries. I’ve been in countries that don’t have free libraries. We take libraries for granted in this society. No, they aren’t completely free, since they have to be funded through taxes, etc. But they are well worth the expenditure. Just imagine not having the ability to access all the books (and records and movies) you want for free. I could never feed my addiction to reading if I had to buy every book I read. Or even pay to check them out of the library.

Reality shows. Are people so desperate for fame that they’re willing to become sideshow attractions? And are we so desperate for entertainment that we’re willing to watch other people live their lives in excruciating and often boring detail? I guess the real question is: why aren’t our own lives enough to live through?

The war against clutter. I know, some people let clutter get out of hand. But I like my stuff. I like knowing it’s there, just waiting for me to want or need it.  I know that most of it will be thrown away after I die, but while I’m still here, keep your hands off of it!

E-readers. It’s not that I don’t like the idea, it’s that I can’t decide which one to get. (Plus they’re expensive.) Besides, I’m not used to buying my books; I use the free library.

The technology gap. There’s a widening gap between those who have computers and Internet access and those who don’t. If you don’t you are at a distinct disadvantage and it’s only getting worse. I’m especially concerned about students. But it’s hitting older people as well. Personally, I think Internet access should be a public good, like basic television, but I know that’s not going to happen. If anything, it’s probably going to get more expensive.

The technology race. Ever get the feeling that you’re always running behind technologically? New gadgets are coming out so fast no one can keep them up with them. And if you do try to stay ahead of the curve, you go broke. I don’t know the solution for this; I guess you just have to get to the level you can afford and you feel comfortable with and stick with it as long as possible.

3-D movies. It’s the rare film which is truly enhanced by 3-D technology. For the most part, it just seems like a gimmick to get you to fork over at least four dollars more per ticket. It’s just not worth it. And it really pisses me off when the only choice is the 3-D price-inflated version. What a rip-off.

HGTV shows. Don’t get me wrong, I love HGTV. I watch it almost every day. But at the same time I worry that it gives people an unrealistic idea of what they can or should spend on a house. The worst of it is, watchers end up dissatisfied with their humble abodes and feeling like they should get something bigger or fancier. What’s wrong with being happy with what you’ve got?

Materialism. This isn’t exactly new for mankind, but it seems to have gotten worse in recent decades. People used to be satisfied with so much less. Young people think they should start out with huge flat-screen TVs and SUVs, stainless steel appliances and granite counter-tops, the latest in fashion and furniture, $30,000 weddings and “starter” homes that cost a quarter of a million dollars. No wonder they’re staying home longer with Mom and Dad. They can’t afford the lives they think they’re entitled to.

Extreme Home Makeovers. I have a love-hate relationship with extravagant houses. I love to see them (I used to go on home tours at least once a year), but I usually end up shaking my head at all the excesses. And when a home makeover show saddles a family with a house that will cost them a fortune in utilities and taxes, I wonder who the winner really is.

What are the things you don’t get?

Here are 130 Pet Peeves identified by Columbus Alive! (a free paper in my home town).

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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