Recently I had a conversation with my father about whether or not gay people should be given the right to marry. We discuss this topic often. It's laughable, really. It's not as if either of us has changed our minds yet. I supposed maybe he finally budged a little when he admitted gay people are probably born that way.
During the course of the conversation, he mentioned that kids were better off being raised in two-parent households made up of a mother and a father. This then spiraled to the point wherein I said, "I love it when people point to some magical time when all families were made up of a mommy and a daddy and things were perfect and everyone was happy." That time, of course, never existed. My father claimed that it did because that's what his childhood was like. Well, so was mine. I certainly wouldn't claim that my experience is representative of all experience or even average experience. I wouldn't even claim that it's the only valid or right way to be raised. It sure did beat having abusive, neglectful parents or being raised by wolves (although sometimes I claim that I was for all the proper household care and maintenance my parents taught me).
I was thinking about all of this today after reading a thing at the New York Times (which I would link to, but they've cut me off for the rest of the month) about the decline of editing at publishing houses. Books, it would seem, are being published containing horrendous numbers of typos. The writer of this piece seems to think it wouldn't be such a problem if modern writers were better spellers and spellcheck hadn't ruined everyone's life. Reading the comments cracked me up. The pearl clutching! Over typos! I mean, I cringe when I see a typo on a website when I've done the copy. But life goes on and stuff. I certainly do not think WE ARE ALL GOING ON A SLOW RIDE INTO HELL when I spot a typo.
However, as internet commenters are wont to do, everyone freaked out. Some people were extremely pro bad spelling (or, you know, pro the fluidity of language and all that stuff). Others were militantly anti stupid people. It was the anti crowd that really got me going. Commenters harkened back to some ideal era in which 12-year-olds wrote spotless essays on the importance of being earnest. A time when all people everywhere could fucking SPELL, goddammit, and also never jaywalked. And all had awesome jobs with pensions and were set up in one of those "fat guy/hot wife" situations. ALL OF THEM.
The other day my mother said something about their being more sociopaths in the world today than ever before. My father and I started shaking our head slowly from side to side at the exact same moment and said, "No." I guess we agree on something. I said I would assume that the percentage of the population that is sociopathic is roughly the same over time. So, too, the percentage of bad spellers. There's something really satisfying about screaming, "We're all gonna DIE!" in a crowded theater. I just never understand how anyone thinks it's at all helpful to say that we used to have everything right but we don't anymore. It has only just now dawned on me that this phenomenon is just like the story of Adam and Eve: life was perfect, then people started up with their people-y ways, we got fucked, and now we've got to get ourselves back to the garden. I'm totally about to listen to "Woodstock" on YouTube. Funny. One of the comments on the YouTube video is, "Groovy! I miss those days...easy living and no worries!!" IT ALL COMES FULL CIRCLE.
I've never had much patience for people who are still pining away over some long lost love more than a year after they and that person parted ways. Seriously. No. Patience. It's one thing to say even after a long period of time that it's somewhat sad that it ended. But to pine away--to believe that the person who is gone was the only person who will ever be so perfect in the entire universe--makes me want to hit whomever is selling that schlock right in the face. It's just not honest. It may feel like the truth, but people who think this way are unwilling to actually look at the world straight and see it for what it really is: a very mixed-up place. It feels safe to believe that perfection existed at some point in the past because if that's true, perfection is both possible and possibly attainable. We can just follow our steps backwards, do now what we did then to make that magical time reappear.
But as long as we're betting on the past, we're not creating a future that might actually really be different. At the very least we're wasting a whole lot of time being dicks on the internet.