Exploiting Sadness

February 12, 2018 1:09 pm

Back in the day, when we had time, a TV in the living room, and an actual living room, the Husband and I used to watch Shark Tank. At first, I wasn’t into it, cause I can’t commit to anything that is over thirty minutes long and I don’t already know it’s awesome. But there was one episode, at the beginning where a high school girl and her little sister created a business around decorating their school locker and they got an offer from every single shark! Those little girls, got to pick who they wanted to work with! It was awesome! There was another episode where a fire fighter had invented an apparatus, to hook the hose faster to the fire hydrant. He also got a major deal. So I got hooked on it, and for a while I watched them.

Then there was an episode where a woman was selling what amounted to be a clothing garment that it wasn’t exclusive to her. Well, as the pitch went on, she kept explaining some of her troubles, and then she brought out the tears and her substance abuse. Now, I think addiction is a very serious problem. I think that this country is (not) dealing with a very serious epidemic, and something does need to change. Recovery is an up hill battle that this person has to fight every single day of her life. I feel for her.

BUT I’m watching Shark Tank NOT Intervention.

I want to learn about new products in the market. I want to listen to the business side of the deals, I want to make fun of Mr. Wonderful and want to judge the pitches and costumes. I don’t want to listen to the sad story. I don’t want the product or service that’s being offered clouded with someone’s horrible childhood, or abusive marriage. It makes me feel like they are exploiting their own sad and (not) unique situation to make a sale. It undermines the seriousness of the problem. I will or will not buy a product or service based on the product or service. I don’t want to be manipulated into making you some money. I stopped watching the show all together.

I participated in another Slam last month and I didn’t win anything. My story was about motherhood, and the first year after the kid was born. I forgot some jokes, and at one point I forgot how to continue with the story. It was short and as the husband puts it, I also, didn’t run it past him. But the truth is that deep down inside, I think I lost because my story wasn’t sad. The story that won was about sexual assault, told by the victim. It was a very sad story, but somehow wrapped in self blame disguised as “personal responsibility”. I shit you not! We came out of there confused and feeling a little dirty, honestly.

I have a hard time making anything sad for any reason. I don’t want people to think that I’m somehow using my sad stories for empathy. I fear that people might think or feel that I’m playing some victim card. Once you get to be a certain age, you’ve probably had to endure some hardship or another. We all have. Like when I wrote about Madam’s President’s dog passing away. I know it’s sad, because I’ve lost two doggies since the kid has been born. But when people asked me about it, I dismissed my own sadness with a simple “It was time. They were ready. They lived a very good life.” Not once did I say anything to anybody about how sad it really is and how much I missed the one dog that the husband actually hated.

Maybe telling that story was a way for that woman to cope with what had happened to her, but the entire part about “taking personal responsibility” made it awkward and hard to relate. At least for me. The other side of that coin is that maybe I don’t know how to let myself be vulnerable and actually tell people that bad things have happened and that’s why I don’t understand when people do it. One time I was at an activity with the kid at a park, with a bunch of moms, and one of the moms that I had just met told me the story about how her first husband was physically abusive. I didn’t know what to say or how to behave other than “that’s terrible. I need to check on the kid.”

The next slam is at the end of next month. I have a story, and whilst it does have some jokes, it’s not funny and I don’t want people to feel sad for me.

There were twice as many people, and I was nervous.

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