This is a card in Dave's Virtual Box of Cards.

Be careful what you wish for

Created: 2022-11-11

You hear the song "It’s Raining Tacos" and you picture a dozen or so tacos coming down. You catch a few to eat. Maybe you manage to bite one right out of the air. Delicious!

But in reality, a taco storm means pain as crunchy tortilla shell shards strike everything at terminal velocity. After about a half hour, the sidewalk is slippery with lettuce. Cars have driven ruts into the taco-salad-slush in the streets. The cleanup is nearly impossible and after about a week, the smell is unbearable. Critical infrastructure such as drainage systems have been clogged well beyond the breaking point. Power lines are still down. Fires are still smoldering. There is a spicy haze in the air.

There’s an old, old story meme: Be careful what you wish for. The literal-minded wish-granting genie. The super power that is more curse than gift (like the Midas Touch). Or the straight-up punishment of the "contrapasso" (counter-suffering) in Dante’s Inferno.

There’s a slightly more subtle version in which success is not all it’s cracked up to be. Especially fame and fortune.

In our social media age, the challenge is subtler still. Be careful wishing for another otherwise normal person’s seemingly perfect life. Firstly, it’s not. You’re just seeing the good parts. Secondly, the really successful people may be sacrificing in places you wouldn’t want to sacrifice.

I hope there’s a backlash to all of this Flagrant Display of Perfection (or FDP as I will now call it). I can imagine a near future in which desirable and endearing traits are showing flaws an vulnerability in a way that seems just plain old human. I think we already have that to some degree, but only when it’s paired with a well-developed comedic ability (self-deprecating humor).

But in the meantime, avoid yearning for what is portrayed in an FDP. That is not the path to happiness.