Everything is so expensive now-a-days!
I've heard it declared by people far to young to way in on the good ole days. It's one of those sayings from the nineties and before that's actually gotten less true as we've moved into the 21st century. But I'm sure if we polled around people would still feel that way. "Movies cost a nickle!" "Everything was a dollar!" "We used to have a use for the penny!" "I made all my purchases using goats as currency!"
It all feels familiar right? Somewhere in all of this there's familiarity to the obvious silliness of the sentences I wrote. It's a disconnect from the way it used to be, to the way it is. It's uncertainty. It's the feeling that things have moved away from where you were feeling comfortable and now they are happening in ways you aren't familiar with. Uncertainty.
Uncertainty is at the heart of a lot of the issues that you see in the world, and thus things that should be reflected in our fake one's. People confused about the ever changing world of gender and identity politics. People that used to be quiet are now loud. People I've never dealt with before are now my neighbor's and co-workers. Is that person supposed to be in this bathroom? Listen, I know how the world works. I've been in the world the whole time. You can't tell me I don't know how it is! This is my story. The world exists as I perceive it.
That's an easy trap to fall into.
I think the big one is cost. That's the one that really get's me personally. Me the author of this post. Dan Eavenson. I like to think I stay up to date on all the things in that last paragraph so that I don't get surprised by them, but cost is the one that keeps slapping me around. What costs a dollar? Food. Some food. Fries? Some amount of fries. An apple? Well a pound of apples is about a dollar. Wow that's way heavier then a dollars amount of fries. Is that a value? It seems healthier, but also less tasty because I have a thing about fries...a terribly unhealthy thing about fries. What about an app? That's like a dollar right? Well actually I think that should be free, right? Apps are just free now and we look at ads. Well I don't want to look at adds, so I'll pay a dollar for that. And ten dollars to speed up this leveling mechanic and another twenty for some extra fake dollars that spend even less then regular dollars on things that don't exist and yet I've related money to them. So yeah....what's a dollar worth?
But cost is more then money. What do we ask people to pay to society? What's a crime worth? We've seen rapists not escape justice, but face sentences that didn't seem to fit the nature of the crime while non-violent drug offenders fill our prisons to sizes larger then any other in the world. Uncertainty in punishment makes that moral calculation all the harder. If I'm considering a crime, not knowing what I'm facing makes the idea of jail as a deterrent entirely ridiculous if it didn't exist that way from the start. We can all imagine that we understand the way that punishment should work in our society, but what does it do to us when uncertainty riddles the system.
It's a hard thing just to face in real life as a person, but as an author we have to remember that the little incongruities help make our fake worlds feel more authentic. Making the unreality of the real world come out in the stories we tell.