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Citizen Lars

The Fine Art of Not Liking Things


I’m going to share an embarrassing story.
Long ago, I did not like Saturday Night Live.
I felt the jokes were repetitive, but I’m allowed my tastes, right?
Sure.
Except, once I stood between a friend’s sister and the TV as she tried to watch the show.
I blocked her view while I explained to her why I thought the show sucked.
Argh.
The brazen obnoxiousness of it is somewhat funny.
I can hide behind the fact that I was a dumb teenager, but it’s still awful.

Why recall my teen jackass behavior?
Because I see people of all ages making the same mistake.
Luckily, they’re more subtle, but the root error remains.

They spend too much time insulting movies, shows, books, etc. they don’t like.
Then they try to convince the world.
Then they argue if you disagree.
They may even insult you.
They express a desire to obliterate the cultural item from existence.
But there is no objective standard for art, so they convince no one.
These are all variations on a wasteful way to dislike things.

Since my TV-blocking sin, I’ve refined my disliking strategy and experienced some benefits.
I get to the stuff I like quicker.
I don’t annoy the crap out of others.
My memory is filled with enjoyment rather than disapproval.
Who knew there was an art to disliking things?
A proper way to think a movie, book, show, music, whatever — stinks.

Another side-effect is I’ve developed a thicker skin.
As a writer, I’m in a subjective field.
Readers like or hate your work for any given reason.

Now when someone criticizes my writing, I’m able to ignore it more easily.
I don’t try to force people to like or dislike things.
So few, if any, attempt the same on me.
No one forces me to like something, even if it’s popular and wins awards.
The creators of the movies, books, etc. I’ve disliked aren’t phased by my opinion.
So I can be unmoved by harsh critiques just the same.

Learn to dislike things constructively, and you’ll end up liking a lot more.