Given the choice, would you rather be in a train wreck or a car wreck? I’ve asked some friends and acquaintances this very question and the results are pretty mixed with regards to these two choices but invariably someone will say, “I don’t want to do either.” In my estimation, that is the smartest answer. Choosing not to live through trauma and pain is a smart and easy decision when we think of the physical. There is no way to truly compare train wrecks and car wrecks but in general terms, train wrecks are public and involve a large number of people. Car wrecks are usually less public and involve fewer people.
In our reality TV world, there are multiple examples of human “train wrecks”. We seem almost obsessed with finding the people that are as close to the bottom of the barrel of humanity as possible. It is a disturbing reality that the public at large desires to see other people who are “worse” than they are. Depending on your particular preference, you can watch the unfortunate life of teenage mothers, millionaires’ wives, possible youth beauty queens, youth cheerleaders and the list goes on and on. At the end of that half hour, it is easy to feel vastly superior to that person’s “train wreck” of a life.
The problem is that often the people watching have a life that is a “car wreck” but through comparison feel pretty good now. Their life is not as bad or as public as the “train wreck”. So rather than striving to live the best life possible, we seem to insist upon finding the examples of those who are worse off than us. The comparison model does us little good, especially when the subjects of the comparison set the bar so low.
This does not just relate to the TV world but the classroom. Have you ever felt badly about the grade that you got on a quiz or test until you looked at your neighbor’s paper to see a lower grade? Rather than measuring yourself against what is possible, you measure yourself against what makes you feel better about your current situation. It’s a foolish strategy to employ because it lulls you into being comfortable with less than who you truly are.
So if your life is a wreck, don’t look for someone with a worse life. Pick up the pieces, heal your wounds and get back on the road.