Sunday, February 09, 2014

On Not Watching the Olympics

"Russia is a bad place, governed by bad people, so I'm not going to watch the Olympics which are being held there." Well, I guess you really showed them, didn't you?

But, wait. Who, precisely, are you hurting with that decision? I don't think Russia really cares whether or not you watch the Olympics. What does that country gain if you watch, and what does it lose if you don't watch? Even if you are one af a large group of Americans acting in unison, what does Russia gain or lose by that audience? Nothing.

The television networks lose, if your group is big enough, but you don't claim to be boycotting the networks, you claim to be boycotting Russia. Even if your target is the networks, you are misfiring, because they don't pay any cost this year while televising the Olympics in Russia. If their audience is smaller this year they will get paid less when they televise future Olympics in nations which you presumably will not view as disfavorably as you do Russia.

Congratulations, you are hurting only yourself. You missed, for instance a spectacular 19-year-old Japanese men's singles skater, and a breath-takingly lovely slopestyle run by Jamie Anderson. Self righteous judgement is usually an act more self destructive than it is punishing. It happens within one's own head and spoils one's own emotional environment, while the target remains blissfully unaware of it.

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