Like many pack animals, I judge the hell out of the idiots surrounding me. It’s impossible not to have immediate gut reactions when we see our neighbors making stupid decisions; our brains are hard-wired to be nervous about how wisely our tribe used scarce survival resources. And let’s face it, it’s fun to make fun of doofuses in vinyl wrapped electric Hummers.
A couple semesters ago I asked my class for examples of useless things and landed on tabloid articles about Chloe Kardashian. Surely that’s one thing our economy can save some cash on without any real harm.
But it’s not so simple. Nobody is being forced to print those rags which means someone (bless their hearts) wants to read about Chloe Kardashian. And they want it enough that they’re willing to work for it.
If you set up an amateur print shop in your basement and made up a bunch of celebrities to gossip about as a hobby, nobody would have any reason to stop you. We may agree that your hobby is silly, but if you can’t have a silly hobby, then what’s the point of it all?!
When people buy those magazines at the check out counter, they’re putting their own effort into making up celebrities to gossip about, the difference is they don’t have to put in so much time and the production value is higher because of gains from trade.
Even silly things have moral worth when they exist because of people’s voluntary choices. We should all be more hesitant to ban behaviors we don’t understand.