When standing with his mother and me in supermarket checkout lines, my son delights in reading to us the headlines in the tabloids displayed beside the cash registers. You know, those disgusting rags that trumpet lies like "Teen Mother Gives Birth to Pups," or "Tom Cruise Behaves Like a Fool." Hmmm... I guess even a tabloid headline can be truthful on occasion. At least Sumner Redstone seems to think so, about Tom Cruise and his behaviour.
Many tabloid headlines are at worst absolute hogwash, and at best gross distortions of the truth.
"How can they get away with saying things like that?" asks my son.
The reality is that fighting nonsense like this is rarely worth the time, trouble and expense. Most of what is said in the tabloids is so ridiculous that no sane person would grant it any credibility anyway.
The more important issue, I think, is what my son noticed too. A lot of the stories are about well-known politicians, actors, musicians, and other luminaries and they are invariably unfavourable, critical, and often libellous. What is it that makes tabloids fill their pages with such horrible drivel?
Why, that is what the readers want, of course!
My wife explained her theory on the subject to my son. Many people, she said, are envious of others. They resent the fact that others are, (choose any combination, or all of the following:) more handsome, more beautiful, wealthier, sexier, smarter, or more famous. Rather than exerting themselves to remedy whatever deficiencies in themselves they have some control over, these people choose instead to tear others down. It's easier and faster. Yes, I know that not every woman can give herself movie star looks. Nor can any man bestow easily upon himself the grace and speed of an accomplished athlete. But, everyone can read a book, take a course, work harder and longer, or do any number of things that might help improve their lot in life. No, that is too hard, too much work. It is easier to tear others down and then to revel in the resultant misery.
Unhappy? Make your neighbour unhappy too. And don't forget your spouse and your children, your lover, your doctor and your dentist. Spread the misery. Misery loves company, after all.
Me? I don't like misery. I would rather lift people up than tear them down. I would much rather interact with happy people. Am I being pollyannaish?
I don't care. Why walk around with a scowl when I could be smiling instead?