Human beings make everything into a contest. Absolutely everything.
I’m watching a fabulous pianist on YouTube. The video is great. The comments below the video, however, are about everything wrong with the performance, and why such-and-such other performer is better — as though it is some kind of contest. (Or that there is one objective interpretation of a work of art which is definitively the “best”.)
Poetry slams are another example. Because the purpose of writing poetry is to win, apparently.
Dance battles. Lip sync contests. America’s Got Talent. Eurovision. Because whoever more people vote for must be better. Even if the singer you liked best was eliminated early. Because popularity is what it’s all about, right? That’s winning, right?
People in marriages refuse to see counselors because the counselor might “side with their wife (husband)”. Because the purpose of counseling isn’t to get insight that would aid a marriage, the purpose of counseling is to support the purpose of marriage, which is, seemingly, to win. Whatever that means, given that it isn’t a contest, there are no rules, and no one cares anyway, because trying to win arguments, most of the time, is just stupid.
In fact, the people most likely to “keep score” in a relationship are typically using criteria no one agreed to and, what’s more, they aren’t really in a position to be objective in keeping score. We all know this, but we don’t care, because — we’re trying to win some kind of contest, one where we’re more right than the other person. Because that matters to us for some reason.
In politics, people consider their side to be right by definition on every issue, and then indulge in meaningless faux arguments online, typically with no one, as people don’t really brook interaction with others who disagree with them. Or, if they do, they do so in an argumentative and abusive way that convinces absolutely no one except themselves. Look at me… I won that argument. That other person just got served.
Except, they didn’t, because they don’t care what you think. Or, better yet, they can tell by your self-serving behavior that you don’t think — not that they necessarily do (actually think), either.
I understand that competitiveness is part of human nature, and that a whole range of activities have developed to cater to it, from games and sports to spelling bees and karaoke contests. It’s the turning of things that are not contests into contests that bothers me. Marriage is not a contest. Friendships are not contests. Of course, arguably, things like spelling aren’t really contests either, unless we make one.
Life is not a contest, where we “win” by appearing to be better than our neighbors. It’s more like a meal we all enjoy more when we share and pass things to each other.
Oh, who am I kidding. If life were a meal, people would claim they make it better back in their hometown.