Friday, January 25, 2019

Insight: Comparing pork chops and applesauce

By Lorraine Glowczak

The other evening, my husband made me a wonderfully romantic dinner that consisted of baked porkchops, stuffed with brie and sliced apples, with a mixed roasted vegetable medley on the side. Great food and a loving husband. Feeling a little bit of envy at my luck in life?

Or, does your mind, as a result of watching too many reruns of the Brady Bunch, go directly to the episode where Peter Brady imitates Humphrey Bogart, mimicking Bogart’s vocal inflection to tell the family what they are having for dinner: “pork chawlps and apple sauwls.” As a child growing up in the late 1960s and early 70s, I instantly fall into that linguistical catchphrase whenever the words “porkchops” and “apples” are used in the same sentence.     

For those who choose to spend their time more wisely and have not seen this Brady Bunch episode, Peter attempts to create a new persona for himself, after being told at a party that he is dull and has no personality. He tries Bogart on for size. Afterall, Bogart is far from boring.

Which brings me back to the original question. Did you feel a tinge of jealousy as I described the dinner made for me by my husband?

For the record, my point is not to bring out your envious nature but to shed light on how we may often compare ourselves with others. Like Peter, we all want to be a part of our social tribe and whether we believe we lack personality, don’t have enough money, don’t have that marble kitchen countertop or travel as much as we’d like; all things we deem important or believe successful, it’s human nature to compare ourselves - leading us into feelings of unnecessary despair.

It is no secret this comparison flaw has increased over the past ten years since the blossoming of social media. In fact, a new term, “Facebook depression”,  has been used to describe the loneliness and alienation one feels as a result of excessive social media use. Afterall, when you see photos of your friends having fun together at a party while you are sitting home alone, or a coworker standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or photos of delightful looking food your classmate is about to eat, it’s easy to compare others’ happy lives and believe the rest of us have somehow failed.

Short of cutting ourselves off from all social media or social contact, what are some steps we can take to limit our natural response to compare? In an online article she wrote for Psychology Today, medical doctor and wellness expert Susan Biali, M.D suggested: “avoid mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds as much as possible [but instead], use social media purposefully, specifically choosing what you will look at and keeping it to a minimum.”

Additionally, she added, “have you given thought to how the things you post might negatively impact others? Could there be a way of posting and participating in social media which would be less curated, more real, and less about showing off?”

And speaking of showing off. I suspect that when I described the evening pork chop dinner; you had envisioned my husband and I sitting down together with candlelight and a glass of wine, talking and laughing, sharing the joy from our spectacularly happy day filled with adventure.

The reality was this: It was a long day at work and I got home very late, eating the meal by myself because my husband was already in bed. The only talking that happened that evening was with my beagle-lab mix who seemed annoyed at me repeating, “pork chawlps and apple sauwls.” To top it off, the pork chop was tough from sitting in the oven too long.

Two days later, coming home late after a town council meeting, my husband was in bed but this time, he had not made me a meal. Instead, I made and ate one package of ramen noodles. Jealous now?

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