Mayonnaise versus Miracle Whip, and other things that just don’t matter all that much

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OK, so if you haven’t picked up on it by now, you can’t possibly have been paying attention, there’s this: I am really opinionated.

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Photo by The World Through My Lense, via Flickr

I come from a long line of passionate and vocal opinionated people.

My kids are well on their way to continuing the family tradition.

A few weeks ago at Jazzercise, our instructor asked us “Mayonnaise versus Miracle Whip?” Now, considering we were all working our butts off, the response was fairly moderate. But still, we were all making faces and giving the stink-eye to people who swing the other way, so to speak. Myself included. But then it occurred to me, why the heck do we get so bent out of shape about this stuff? This is called “personal preference,” and there is no right or wrong.

That was the moment this crystallized for me, but it wasn’t the beginning. I’ve been pulling my hair out over the same issue lately in my family.

“Frozen is STUPID! It’s the WORST MOVIE EVER!” proclaim all the boys.

“No, it isn’t,” I said. “You liked it just fine when you first saw it. You’ve just seen it too many times. And Julianna likes it, so there’s no reason for you to be that way.”

“Jar Jar Binks is dumb!” (Alex.)

“No, he’s not, he’s totally awesome!” (Nicholas.)

Insert shouting match in the back of the van.

“GUYS!” (Me, at the top of my lungs.) “YOU CAN NOT LIKE JAR JAR BINKS, AND YOU CAN LIKE JAR JAR BINKS, AND IT DOESN’T HURT EITHER ONE OF YOU!” (Although Alex is right on this one. See also: opinionated.)

“Batman is the best superhero!” (Michael.)

“No, he’s NOT, HULK is the best superhero!” (Nicholas.)

“GUYS!” (Me, insert previous rant, with altered names.)

Okay, I hope you’re all chuckling, because this is the part where I hit the rest of us, who should have outgrown this a couple decades ago.

For instance: why can teachers not look forward to the last day of school, and work-at-home moms dread it, simultaneously? Both experiences are valid expressions of our own realities, and it costs us nothing to affirm and validate the experience of the other.

Or: why do we insist that the ONLY proper way to put the toilet paper on is over/under? I mean, really? Petty, ever?

Or: why can one person not say, “Decorating for every season makes me happy,” and another say, “Decorating for ANY season makes my head want to explode!” Why is it so threatening to us that people are–gasp–different?

It’s hardly any wonder that we can’t discuss the big issues with open minds and reason. We seem, collectively, to have decided every minor, unimportant, morally-neutral personal preference is a hill worth dying upon.

Which is why I’m stopping here today and sharing this (clean version of the) cartoon that came to me via one of Christian’s co-workers last week. It talks about the science of changing our minds–specifically, why we get so threatened by new ideas. It has a lot of food for thought in it. Hope you’ll click on through.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/believe_clean

(And I swear, if the FB or blog comboxes devolve to arguments over Miracle Whip versus Mayonnaise, I will…I will….I don’t know. Do something obnoxious.)

 

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