Since it will probably be referenced in future posts, I’ll go ahead and spell out my Soap Opera Theory here. I’ll probably link to this post when it’s mentioned in the future as an explanation of it.

People today, especially in the developed world, have 1/100th of the things to worry about than people living in grass huts in the Kalahari do. For that matter, an American middle class person has a lot less to worry about in 1979 or 2009 than a comparable person had to worry about in 1879 or 1909. Seeing how this is a relatively recent phenomenon (not worrying about lions eating you, Polio, the Common Cold killing you, a broken arm could get infected and kill you, pumping water from a well, NO hot water, washing clothes on a rock in a stream, outhouses, etc.), it is the human condition to have something to worry about. If a man is deprived of something to worry about, he’ll find something – even if it has to be fabricated, he’ll find it.

Before wide-spread utilities delivery, there were no electric or gas stoves, washing machines, dryers, water heaters, TV, light bulbs, refrigerated pre-cut meats and canned veggies from a store – many things like this. A man went to work in the fields or at a factory or something and a woman stayed home and worked her tail slap off. Chopping wood for the stove, hauling water to heat for washing and bathing, washing clothes by hand, sweeping, collecting eggs, butchering chickens or sides of stored beef or pork, emptying and washing “slop jars”, just an ungodly assortment of things to do. Men worked their tails off to afford just the necessities of life. Food used to consume 30% to 50% of the average household income. Supplies to repair the house and whatever else were in constant need (remember, before Duramax paint and things like it you can get down at Lowe’s or the hardware store, people whitewashed raw wood and felt lucky if it last 4 or 5 years – the WOOD, I mean, not the whitewash.) It was a struggle just to survive, being “comfortable” was not usually an option.

So fast forward 100 years and you have indoor plumbing, running hot and cold water, electricity, natural gas, all the appliances made possible because of these wonderful things, cars to get to the once non-existent stores to buy stuff you used to have to make, store bought clothes with UV resistant fabric, denim, just a million things to make life easier. Now, we find many instances of men working outside the home and women staying home and keeping the kids and house. With all these modern conveniences, the home maker had a little free time on her hands. Also, kid gets sick, take him to the doctor and an antibiotic would fix him right up. I know it’s still hard to run a household, but it’s one helluva lot easier than it used to be. So these women had time on their hands to at least watch a 30 minute or one hour TV show and soap operas were born.  Housewives everywhere latched onto them. It was like a romance novel you didn’t have to read. But I noticed with my mom and grandmothers and aunts and all, that they would get terribly upset about some of the goings on in the soap operas. Cry, even. Then they’d get on the phone and talk about what a bad guy some guy was on the show or how they felt sorry for some chick that was being cheated on and good Lord! I mean they got into it. It occurred to me the people in those shows had WAY more problems than normal people did. And that was the point – they had worries, normal folks didn’t. Soap operas were a way for people that didn’t have much to worry about to have something to worry about! Eureka! It was an outlet for people to get upset about something to alleviate the boredom induced by not having a whole lot to get upset about.

So the “Soap Opera” theory states: “When one has little or nothing to be worried, angry, or upset about, one will find something to fill that need. Man, in his natural state, must have problems to solve or injustices to rail against. In the absence of these things, substitutes must be searched for or fabricated.”

Hollywood is a good example of this. The insanely rich, spoiled, has everything handed to them set of people have to have a “Cause”. If things are too easy, they feel a diminished sense of self-worth. And to show that they are just like “normal people”, they make a caricature of a “normal” or “poor” person in their minds, and fight for what they believe that person needs or wants. They get all bent out of shape about these things for the same reason housewives cry about “Amanda having that baby and that no-good Richard is cheating on her with that floozy nurse at the hospital…”

So, that’s my Soap Opera Theory based on my years as a student of human nature.

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