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It’s All About Picking Your Battles

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It's All About Picking Your Battles

Dear Harry,

Three things happened in one day.

Last week, on September 14th, Matt Damon was publicly declared a racist. It was on an episode of his show, “Project Greenlight,” where he off-handedly insisted that a delicate issue of race in the movie they were developing could be handled by hiring black actors. When he was challenged by Effie Brown — his producing consultant — that he needed a black voice behind the camera as well, Matt Damon basically waved his meaty, Super-Bowl-Ring-Laden mitts and said, in so many words, “Pish posh, we’re good with our all-white crew.” Effie Brown then sits back in her chair, raises her eyebrows, and dramatically reacts with an “Oh, wow.” Cue social media outrage and a Jezebel article, hilariously titled, “Matt Damon Interrupts Successful Black Woman to Explain Diversity to Her” (as if simplifying Effie Brown down to “Successful Black Woman” isn’t racially degrading in its own right).

On that same day, Patrick Carney of the Black Keys decided to tweet about Jack White of the White Stripes for “bullying” him in a bar. There have been rumors of Jack White hating the Black Keys for ripping off his “trademark sound” (which they both ripped off of Muddy Waters, but whatever. Fucking artists.) and I guess they ran into each other in a bar, and Jack White gave Patrick Carney the what-for. Afterward, Patrick Carney likely sprinted to the bathroom to cry for a few hours, because he then took to Twitter and fired off eight tweets that amounted to him declaring himself a victim. Jack White’s response was basically, “I didn’t touch you, stop whining.”

And, that same morning, a friend of mine was involved in a road rage incident with someone driving a Mercedes. The story he tells leaves little doubt that the other person involved was a raving lunatic. But I know about it, not because we talked about it, but because he relayed it on Facebook.


I’m not here to argue that Matt Damon wasn’t wrong, or that Jack White isn’t an asshole, or that Mercedes-guy shouldn’t have his license revoked. But when we dismiss these things outright, when we retreat to whatever corner of our existence contains the most agreement, then we’re no longer forced to wrestle with the truth that the world is bigger than our perception. Perhaps Effie Brown, rather than reacting the way she did, could have explained to Matt Damon why his opinion was problematic (which, to her credit, she eventually did). Maybe Patrick Carney could have risked getting his stupid, ironic glasses punched off his face in order to engage in an honest-to-God argument with another human. And conceivably, my friend could have left his anger off of the Internet because his catharsis was limited and cheap.

When we cover ourselves in the safety blanket of sarcasm or Twitter, then we’re no longer forced to wrestle with the reality that the world doesn’t always work in our favor, that existence is chaotic, and that some people don’t care what you think is right. We’re no longer forced to allow for the possibility of being wrong and we create a culture of whiny assholes, increasingly and irrevocably less equipped to live in this world. Ironically, maybe it’s the acceptance of our limitations — even in the face of the gravest injustices — where we can find the most happiness.

So I hope, Harry, this helps you deal with the fact that I’m not going to clean the apartment today. So, seriously, get off my back about it. And stop telling mom you pussy.

With love,

Your roommate and brother, Jared

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Jared Freid (@jtrain56) is a New York City-based comedian who has been featured on MTV’s Failosophy and is the host of The JTrain Podcast presented by TFM.

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