Too Much Critical Thinking, Not Enough Drinking

by 12:00 AM 2 comments
Last weekend I kept Shabbat. I don't mean that in the sense that I didn't use electricity or studied Torah or went to synagogue or anything. I mean that I spent the time between Friday and Saturday evening doing absolutely nothing productive, difficult, or work-related. It was great! I want to do it every week!

Anyway, on Saturday I watched four episodes of The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. It took about ten minutes before I was desperately jealous of all of the "kids," who are actually in their late twenties/early thirties.

It isn't their money that I envy. Everything they did, I can also do, more or less. They rented out an ice skating rink for the four of them ($10,000)? I can go ice skating with friends and strangers in a group, it's only $11 admission with student ID. They can buy a $150,000 SUV? I already have a car; it can take me anywhere I want to go and it has a CD player! They had a private jet to fly to Mexico? I can also fly to Mexico, it would just involve being on a plane with more people. The nice thing about being middle class-ish is that there's nothing that we just can't do at all. Modifications have to be made, but everything is kind of possible.

What I was jealous of is their complete thoughtlessness. They say things that are so stupid without ever thinking about it, before or after the words come out. As a person who is so neurotic about words that it actually takes away from my enjoyment of everyday life, I can't imagine how carefree it must feel to not critically evaluate all. the. things.

For example, Jersey Mike's is running a promotion where all of the proceeds for a day will go to charity. In order to raise awareness for the event, they were giving out this cup about a week beforehand:

I got an iced tea in this cup, and sitting out on the patio on a beautiful afternoon, stared at it, silently fuming.

First of all, who said "giving"? This "quote" is not attributed. Even if someone had said "giving," was that really quote-worthy? Or did, they, perhaps, mean to put quotes around the entire phrase?

Second, in what world is giving defined as making a difference in someone's life? If this definition holds up, Hitler and Stalin were two of the most "giving" men of the twentieth century. Think of the difference they made in millions of lives! The bigger the difference, the bigger the giver, right? So murderers are the most giving of all. Or perhaps the people at Jersey Mike's meant a positive difference.

Even correcting for the first two errors, the statement still doesn't hold. Let's say I give a dollar at the register for the American Heart Association or whatever they're raising money for. Then, for some reason, the money gets lost and isn't delivered. I was still "giving," but my gift wasn't received, and no difference was made in anyone's life. Except for my own, because I'm out a dollar. Giving and making a positive difference in someone's life are, at best, positively correlated. But the two can't be equated.

Who cares, right? I don't even care, really. It just bothers me. And I can't not get sucked into a trap of thinking way too much about whatever is being said or written in my environment.

Another example: Pharrell's new song, "Happy," actually makes me really irritated. I liked it at first when they were playing it during a Hip-Hop class I was going to because I couldn't focus on the lyrics. But now it's on the radio all the time and I can't help hearing this:

[Verse 2:]
Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don’t waste your time

Okay, now that I've posted these lyrics I'm recognizing that they may not be meant in the way I was interpreting them. I was thinking that Pharrell was listening to NPR and thinking that any negative news was designed to make him unhappy, but he's happy. I was going to say that the invasion of Crimea and Syria and all of the other bad stuff is un-related to him, and isn't a test of his mood, and NPR is just trying to keep him informed. Now I think I was actually projecting my own feelings onto Pharrell, because sometimes I do feel like NPR is trying to make me unhappy, or at least bored. I think Pharrell is just talking about personal bad news, like he got fired or something. Wow I'm weird.

Here is one more example to demonstrate how crazy I am: My co-worker was reading with her student, and they got to a description of someone nodding "imperceptibly," which her partner noticed. When they got to this part of the book, I snorted audibly. If the nod was truly imperceptible, how could her partner perceive it? It's a contradiction of terms! I was so mad that I almost brought it up to my co-worker an hour later when her student left, but checked myself just in time so as to not look completely nuts. On some level, I was aware that not everyone wants to talk about problems with semantics in children's nerd lit.

Tl;dr? I would like to erase the years of training in critical thinking that I've received from my many, dutiful teachers. It's been real, mostly real annoying to myself and those around me. Then I would like to fly to Mexico and get waaasted in a yacht like the Rich Kids of Beverly Hills! No, not really. But I'm semi-sincere about the first part.

Marina Gafni

Marina Gafni is a 28-year-old speech pathology student. She lives with her husband in San Jose, CA.


  1. Whatever you're just a cog in the machine of higher-order thinking.