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Wild Notions Of Fun!!! (on the subject of...)

Posted by tardboy on 07.11.2006 at 00:44
Current Mood: Coming Down Off A Sugar High
Current Music: that buzzing in my head

Hey-o! I had about 95% of a post on a paintball drinking game done, but it all got deleted, Tard as I am : (   I'll have to make another try at that most noble of subjects, but this post will be switching gears to a little scientific/philosophical theory.  (BTW, I've decided without precedence or permission that smileys may be treated as punctuation.)

Today's subject is 'Fun' (street vernacular may include: Vitamin 'F', A Blast, and Your Ya-Yaz). I mean, what is this 'Fun' thing, anyway? How come little kids and mentally retarded people seem to have such a screechingly great time simply twirling in circles or jumping up and down, whereas adults feel they need to buy trucks with giant tires and drive around in them drunk in attempt to achieve it. What about people who collect action figures just to put them behind glass or even not remove them from their original packaging? Are they actually having fun? There's a mean part of me that wants to point at those people and call them out on it just because, statistically speaking, such people are usually too feeble to be able to punch through cardboard. But, then again, I'm not really that mean, and some of them probably own those Klingon meele weapons. *daydreams of taking on a small, unorganized squad of wheezing dorks wielding Batleths and a plastic phaser.* Whoa! Where'd THAT come from? For that matter, why is it somehow instinctively fun to be mean? Let's take a look:

My theory is that fun is nature's way of rewarding us for exercising our brains in new ways. When we challenge ourselves mentally, it can often trigger the fun reflex in our brains. Sometimes it can trigger off frustration or impatience, but that's usually when we're preoccupied with a different mental challenge already. Picture having to do homework when you know you could be playing the new Battlezone Enhanced public beta from battlezoneclub.org or jumping on a trampoline. If it’s, say, Algebra II homework, even daydreaming about playing Pong might be a preferred use of our squishy RAM. (And yes, I am aware that some FREAKS actually like Algebra.)  Even when we think that our challenge is physical, it's also mental. Our brains coordinate our movements when we throw a Frisbee, and we have to adjust all our calculations for each throw. Pretty much anything you can think of that you consider fun is a form of brain exercise. Also, imagine doing that same thing so often that your brain doesn't get so stimulated by the activity anymore. It just gets boring, right? Loses its fun.

When you're a little kid, or if you have the mentality of one, just about anything can be fun. Kids tend to frolic a lot. I use the term 'frolic' here to mean having a form of fun that is just a pure enjoyment of each new moment in-the-now. The first time a little kid experiences snowfall, there's just a ton of new input to process. It can catch snowflakes without feeling the impact on its gloves, yet they tickle across its cheeks and eyelashes. Unfortunately, two things may eventually happen to spoil the fun: it could get old if the child is left alone in the snow without new input, or it could get associated with a traumatic experience, such as slipping on ice and hurting itself or getting uncomfortably cold. Both boredom and negative experiences can deter one from exploring an otherwise potentially fun situation. As an adult, do you find jumping up and down fun anymore? Have you 'given up' on ice skating or unicycle riding because frustration, injury, or embarrassment spoiled the fun for you? Maybe you just KNOW that trying wouldn't be worth your effort. After a while, we tend to cross off a whole lot of activities from the potential fun list for one reason or another and instead focus on a small few pursuits. Frolicking becomes very rare because things become ho-hum.

At some point in our lives, the frolicking also becomes embarrassing. Our peers might make fun of us for frolicking, such as enjoying blowing bubbles or galloping like a pony. Past a certain age, we are expected to 'grow up' : (  Socially, we are learning how we fit in amongst each other, sorting out a pecking order. A different type of mental challenge comes into play that some of us find to be more fun than others do: 'competition'. Whether we enjoy climbing that social ladder or are traumatized by the process can determine whether we become introverts or extroverts. Fortunately, we get many chances. There are many ways of climbing, and many ladders to climb. Those of us who can't impress the fellow kids with our throwing arm may best others with knowledge... such as of Pokemon characters and their attributes. The scope of our competitive fun can in many ways shape who we are, who we identify with, and how we approach all the challenges in life. Competition becomes unavoidable, and frolicking, unfortunately, becomes embarrassing. Often we reach a state where our status in the competition becomes more important than the fun of the activities.

Hopefully, we all eventually come to realize that competition isn't everything. We learn to dance around together in ways that are socially comfortable, such as at a concert while drinking $5 plastic cups of cheap beer. We learn to hoot obnoxiously while revving our engines. We even have kids or kittens and frolic with and through them. Hopefully we find friends with which we feel comfortable enough to frolic without feeling that we are being judged negatively by them. Yaaay! : )  There is the dark side to consider, though.

For some reason, being a jerk can be fun. It’s instinctually funny to watch a talented jerk at play, at least until the jerk goes too far. Each of us has that line drawn somewhere, guided by our sense of morals, and ever shifting in position as we grow or regress. Still, why is being or watching a jerk so fun? On the one hand, it’s connected with competition. It’s a way of besting someone by getting the better of him or her. When someone is pushed down, and it’s not us, we come out above them. This can’t possibly explain it all, though. I think another big factor is the sheer unexpectedness of jerk-related situations. When the unexpected happens, our brains have to step back and readjust to a new set of possibilities. This is why watching certain types of accidents is funny. When we are the ones who create the unexpected events, though, we can ‘play’ with other people’s minds. Giving somebody a wedgie when they least expect it can cause everybody around to readjust their concepts of what their peers are actually capable of doing to them. This can be fun or funny. If wedgies become the norm, though, it can just be plain mean. Not all jerks are funny.

So, from this we come to the realization that fun is generally a good thing. It's feedback and encouragement for excersizing our minds. It's in need of tempermant from our consciences, though. We really shouldn't be mean to people even if it might seem like fun. There's other fun to have and share. For instance, there's frolicking! I'm all for encouraging friends to frolick by creating a friendship that accepts and even enjoys each other when we are being silly. That, and there's beer.

Uh… Any questions?

Wow! That was a pretty long lecture. I’ll try to be funnier next time.

Oh, and sorry about the attack on the Klingon home world. It’s coo, brutha geeks… You a’ight ; )

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