The phrase “comparison is the thief of joy,” often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, is considered, regardless of its actual origin, a truism. However, careful reflection would indicate that it is not entirely accurate. The phrase is incomplete. It is comparison without context that is the thief of joy. Comparison can be an effective tool to help understand where one is excelling and see where one has limitations and room for improvement. Comparison is very much a necessary feature in the lives of those who are committed to progress and improvement, and it does not necessarily have to diminish joy.
A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. — Thomas Mann
Ever since watching the “White Christmas” episode of Black Mirror (Season 2, Episode 4), I have consistently thought about the prospect of having a digital version of myself that could be used to do my busy work, such as answering unimportant e-mails and other clerical work that does not require much thinking but takes up a lot of time—time that could be spent on truly rewarding work that requires creativity. The key here, however, is that it would have to be, like in that episode, a digital version of myself who does things exactly like me, not a random chatbot doing the tasks, and certainly not outsourcing my serious work to artificial intelligence. However, outsourcing intellectual work to artificial intelligence sounds appealing to some people, and it is unsurprising that artificial intelligence chatbots are exploding in popularity, the most famous at the present being ChatGPT.
On Saturday, January 7th, 2023, a 29-year-old black man, Tyre Nichols, was subjected to a traffic stop near his home in Memphis, Tennessee. As seen on graphicbodycamerafootage published by the city of Memphis, Nichols was brutally beaten by multiple officers. Three days later, he succumbed to the injuries that he sustained from the beating. This particular case of police brutality has become national news particularly because the five officers responsible for the death of Nichols—Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills, Jr., and Justin Smith—are black. Because of the intraracial nature of this incident, there has been much discussion about whether or not race motivated the beating. Much of this discussion throughout the media is more ideological than it is illuminating.
Will Smith made headlines earlier this year at the Academy Awards when he walked on stage and slapped the comedian, Chris Rock, who told a joke about his wife’s hair. Jada Pinkett-Smith, has alopecia, a disease that disproportionately affects women of African descent. Walking onto the Academy Awards stage and slapping a comedian for a joke is indefensible. It is especially bad that it was done by an entertainment industry veteran like Smith. Smith should have had better control over his emotions. With that said, after the incident, Smith has sincerely and publicly apologized to the comedian, condemned his behavior, and been handed a curiously draconian ban, which prevents him from attending the Academy Awards ceremony for a whole decade. However, there are still some people who are insisting that they are going to boycott his movies going forward, including his latest movie, Emancipation. This is simply reflective of how many people wish to aggressively punish rich black celebrities for the slightest mistakes.