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The Art of Ruining a Good Thing

Updated on March 28, 2018
Let's have some fun!
Let's have some fun! | Source

It's just not good enough, right?

Have you ever been to an event or annual party that you truly enjoyed? The next year you decide to go back and you notice that the event has become grander than it previously was? It is still fun very fun and you enjoy it again. The next year the events has become even grander, or more complex and you may feel tired, or put off, by it because it no longer represents the initial fun and enjoyment that you had. It has been morphed into something else altogether.

This Hub will look into the mindset of people and the destruction of fun and innocent events. I must say, that in my youth I have taken part in the destruction of these events, and as I have grown older I have recognized that I was in fact a part of the problem in ruining the events that I loved. It's hard to describe why we can't be happy with the enjoyment we initially created but in so many instances we feel that we can do better than the last event and in that attempt with degrade or cheapen the experience.

The best for me to try to explain is to use examples from my life that I am not completely proud of but participated in none-the-less. I will start off with examples from earlier in my life and work up to the most present.

Over-The-Line Video

If you are unfamiliar with over the line take a view at the video above as it shows you what the game is, along with the scene that it attracts.

My first example comes from when I was a student at San Diego State University. Although I was not the direct cause of this events degradation, I played my part. Every year there was a charity function put on by a University group, called "Over The Line". If you are unfamiliar with the game it consists of teams of three that play a base-ball like game in a triangle with multiple lines across it. Like baseball the point is to score the most points. It is a very popular San Diego hobby.

Many other University groups joined and donated money to the charity and also competed in the Over-The-Line tournament. The event had started off well enough, donations of money were given in order to enter the tournament and teams competed for a trophy. The idea of the event was to help people and have a little fun will doing so.

By the time I became involved (years after it's advent) the tournament had already been on a downward spiral to being know as a college drinking party at the beach. It was really no longer about the charity, it was about people getting drunk and going to the beach to play "Over-The-Line".

I only participated in the event once and I am sad to say that I was one of the people there just to drink. By the time the tournament started I was drunk enough that I could add no value to my team in the tournament and pretty much stumbled throughout the day in a haze. Looking back it was an embarrassing way act at charity event and I am disappointed in my role that day.

Over the years the event has become known not it's charitable goals but as a glorified drinking party because of this the cops attended the event as well giving tickets to underage drinkers and arresting/giving DUI's to those who attempted to drive away while under the influence. My first year of participation was my last year. This isn't because I wouldn't have done it again, but because of the overwhelming amount of underage drinking and alcohol related offenses the event was shut down and would not take place again while I was in school. The truly sad part about this is that the charity was no longer on anyone's mind. The Over-The-Line tournament started off with a great goal of raising money for charity, but each year of it's existence was slowing turned unto a drunken beach party.

The parade is part of the real fun that can happen at Picnic Day!
The parade is part of the real fun that can happen at Picnic Day! | Source

My second example comes from the greater Sacramento California area, located in the city Davis. Davis is know for it's university, UC Davis. The city of Davis is not large but is home to large and very intellectual university. Each year in April UC Davis has a day called Picnic Day. This is really an open house to the school. Parents and family are encouraged to visit because all the departments open their doors to the public so you can see what the students are working on. I attended this event with friends who were UC Davis Alumni for five years in a row, and after the fifth year I knew I would not go back again.

Each of the five Picnic Days I attended involved drinking, but in this instance the the drinking was not the main catalyst that cheapened this lovely event.. The main issue the mindset of outsiders that came to view Picnic Day as a party instead of an open house. As mentioned, Picnic Day was open to the public. Every year I attended my friends and I went to departments, enjoyed the displays and productions the departments put on. Yes, we did so while drinking, but we did it in line with the expectations of the event - we were respectful to the environment.

UC Davis is known as a hippy school as well. Caring for the environment and respecting nature. The city is almost always clean and nice. Even on Picnic Days despite the increased amount of people the community always found a way to temper the destructiveness of the outside population. Each of the first four years I attended became progressively more out-of-hand, but it never truly broke down until the fifth year.

Walking through downtown Davis that fifth year was sad. The city was littered with people and trash (in this instance they might as well have been the same thing). This is one of the most environmentally conscious campuses and cities in the United States and it had been turned into a massive trash pile. It was disgusting. This was no longer an open house for the students and public to view, it was just a party. The people partying weren't the students and locals either, they may have been there but they were the minority, these were people who were drove to Davis just for a huge party where they could drink in the streets and have free run of what is generally a nice and quiet city. I read in the news that there had been multiple arrests and that because of this years insanity Picnic Day's future would be in question.

While I know that Picnic Day is still going on, I hope that it is done in the spirit of learning and fun. Each year there was a progression of doing more and more with the event until it wasn't an innocent and fun open house, it was a complete different monster. While drinking did have an effect on downtown that led to police involvement it was not the cause of this events troubles. As people, we for some reason feel a need to always up the ante at events, and through this mindset and the addition of outsiders not familiar with the tradition of Picnic Day, it fell into disgrace.

My third example is also from Sacramento. Sacramento holds an event called Second Saturday. It's a great idea and many cities have similar events as well: on the second Saturday of each month artists get together with local shops in mid-town Sacramento and hold art exhibits at night, encouraging people to walk through the shops and stores and view some unique and new art.

I attended Second Saturday pretty often it started as a fairly "sophisticated" event. My friends and I would dress up in nice clothes and walk around mid-town visiting the stores and art galleries that had been set up inside. In this instance drinking was not a central theme for me and my friends. We might get a glass of wine along out path, but this was truly about having a good time in the community.

My wife and I eventually moved out of Sacramento and we no longer attended the event, however about a year after we moved my parents did go out with some friends and were shocked at what they witnessed. My parents did not know that they were going out to dinner on Second Saturday. When the arrived at the restaurant the streets were calm and there were no issues. When they were done eating the scene was completely different. The streets and sidewalks were packed with people drinking and being generally rowdy.

My parents told me that the scene was intense and on the verge of eruption. People were blatantly drinking on the sidewalks and loitering instead of visiting the city shops for the art. People were out to be seen and not necessarily in a good way. My parents made it back to their car and left with little problem, but they were shocked and a little frightened by how quickly everything had changed on the streets.

While drinking did not initially play a big part in this event, I must note that it did change the event. Instead of walking from store to store viewing art people took the worst part of the event, the ability to get away with drinking and public, and made that the focus. It was no longer an event for families or a well dressed group of friends, it was a street party.

I have no been back to Second Saturday so I don't know if they were able to fix the problems that were arising, but I hope that they were. Second Saturday was a fun social and cultural event that had no need of being transformed into a party.

Ruining a Good Time

Have you noticed events in your life slowly degrade and get out of hand over time?

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My Commentary

these were just three examples from my life that I personally witnessed and participated in. There are many more I could add from annual friend camping trips, to even broader scopes in politics. I won't expand any more for the time being, but my point is that it almost seems like human nature to ruin something that is going well. It is never the intention. We always thing that if we invite more people, add more drinking or create more to-do that our events will be better than the times before. And for a time that may work. At some point though, we need to look at what were are doing as say, "We've done a good job, there's no need to make this more grand or bigger." We need to be happy with our creations.

I wish I knew the solution, but it's not that easy. All of my stories in some way involved alcohol, but I don't think that alcohol is the ultimate criminal in each event. It can certainly add an unsavory scene, but the mindset of the people planning the events and those in attendance are the ones who are at fault. The alcohol may take things farther than intended, but those intentions are still within the participants. They come to the event knowing they want to party instead of participate. The want to been seen more than that part in the scene around them.

In the end, I guess planning and expectations are the best ways to ensure a fun and safe time. With many of these events though they are so large or public that some of that planning would have to involved local law enforcement and setting expectations of what will happen should things get out of hand. It is a fine line to walk as a planner because you don't want to scare people away with rules, but if you don't have a firm set of rules in place you may scare people away with what the event becomes.

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