by Daniel A. Kaufman
Some things I’ve been wondering about, from the serious to its opposite and everything in between. Not all of them – or any of them – need be questions for you, of course.
 Why is it that when you realize that someone you care about deeply doesn’t care about him or herself, you are inclined to care about yourself less?
 How can a fictional picture of yourself be so compelling that it leads you to deliberately immiserate yourself for years or even, forever?
 Why are so many adults today so loathe to exercise authority or worse, so eager to hand it over to children and adolescents? (I’ve been wondering about the second question since the bizarre Greta Thunberg “moment” that blissfully seems to be over.)
 Why do people allow political disagreement to destroy otherwise healthy and fulfilling intimate relationships and friendships?
 Why do people care so much about what complete strangers whom they encounter in online spaces – but will never meet or have anything to do with in their actual lives – think of or say about them?
 I can’t think of anyone who would plaster bus stops and train stations across the nation with flyers announcing their most personal and intimate details, feelings, and thoughts. Is the sole reason that so many are inclined to broadcast such things online that it is easy, or is something else going on?
 Where does the expectation that people we don’t know or have any involvement with should be interested in and affirming of all of our myriad self-identifications and self-conceptions come from?
 When and why did people start expecting total strangers (who are not nurses, hospitality workers, etc.) to make them feel “comfortable”?
 I find my capacity for moral outrage and related sentiments decreasing as I get older. Is there such a thing as moral enervation?
 Is the inevitable loss of one’s peers and alienation from one’s culture what makes getting old and dying bearable? The idea that this isn’t your world anymore; that there’s nothing left here for you?
 Why do so many people enjoy popular music, in which the vocals are run through devices that make them sound like robots singing? And why is the trend lasting so long?
 Why would anyone with any knowledge whatsoever of the history of comedy expect the genre to be “nice”?
 Will any amount of social, psychological, or other sorts of damage to young people and their lives be sufficient to trigger substantial, tough regulation of social media and internet technology? If “yes,” how much? If “no,” why not?
 Aside from a tiny number of anti-vaxxers, virtually everyone in the US is vaccinated against Polio, Smallpox, etc. as children. Millions get a flu shot every year. Everyone seems to take a gazillion medications – prescription and over the counter – as a matter of course. So why is there such opposition to getting a vaccine for something that in the US alone has killed a half million people?
 Do people ordinarily do deep-dive research into the efficacy/safety of the things the various experts in their lives recommend they do – whether mechanics, doctors, dentists, plumbers or what have you – so that they can “decide for themselves”?
 Why do people want tattoos?
 Why do people want weird piercings (septum, genitals, ear gauges, etc.)?
 If nation states are bad, why would a world government/state be better?
 Where did people get the idea that marriage is a kind of “dating forever”?
 Why do people choose spouses on the basis of intensity of romantic feeling, which is inconsistent, variable, and something that inevitably will wane?
 How and why did prostitution and pornography become something about which self-identified “progressives” are almost universally positive?
 Why has concern for the safety and well-being of women disintegrated so quickly?
 Why is conflation of the obligatory and the supererogatory so common?
 How do we manage to convince so many people that countries we could defeat with a single submarine or ship are grave threats?
 What is appealing about public self-flagellation and confession of sins to the person engaged in it?
 Why would you pay someone to tell you how awful you are, whether in person or print?
 How do people stay mad for as long as it takes to create intergenerational, national and international enmities? (I can’t stay mad about anything for more than five minutes.)
 Exactly what is a person supposed to get out of being “represented” racially, ethnically, or gender-wise, in a film or tv show about superheroes or fantasy creatures that don’t exist?
 Why do so many people living in places where there is virtually no crime want so badly to own pistols?
 What is the appeal of grand narratives over smaller, humbler, loosely connected ones?