Friday, December 18, 2009

Why Tiger’s Troubles Are So Fascinating

Despite the fact that right now history is potentially in the making with the majority of the world’s leaders gathered together in Denmark to try to determine the future of the world, the one story in the news for the past couple of weeks to really dominate world wide attention has been Tiger Woods. Climate change is not at the top of the most clicked list of stories on the internet, but Tiger Woods is still attracting more attention than just about any other story. Perhaps people are sick and tired of hearing about climate change, perhaps some people do not really believe that climate change is a genuine threat, and perhaps some people just don’t care. Most likely, I believe that many people feel that climate change is something which is beyond their own control, and while many people are happy to “do the right thing” with low energy light bulbs and recyclable bags, ultimately they might feel that there’s not really a lot they can do personally about climate change.

Instead, they leave that to the politicians and the world leaders to sort out, while the rest of us deal with matters that have a more immediate impact on out lives. Most of us are caught up in the day to day struggle to make ends meet, provide for our families, deal with mundane challenges like household maintenance and grocery shopping. There’s the challenge of what to get the kids for Christmas, and then the question of how to keep them from getting bored in the holidays. There’s a lot to deal with for most families without worrying about solving the problems of the world. And that’s one of the reasons why so many people are fascinated to read about the problems of one of the world’s most successful men, a man who had it all and if anyone could be happy in his life he should have been.

There is a certain fascination with the fall from grace of any public figure, but in Tiger’s case it has been so spectacular that it eclipses most Hollywood blockbusters for sheer entertainment value. Because of his high profile, and especially because of his squeaky clean image, the titillation factor has proven to be irresistible, no matter how many times we remind ourselves that one man’s marital difficulties are not really newsworthy and ultimately are nobody’s business but his and his family’s. None of us really know the true reality of his experience or that of his wife, but it can be easy to forget that behind all the headlines there is most likely a wife who is shattered and devastated, and a man once adored by millions who must surely now be feeling very small and quite possibly questioning the meaning of his own existence.

In this way it is a story that attracts our attention precisely because we can understand the nature of what is going on, and we can identify with the people involved. Never mind that they are richer than most of us can even comprehend, and live in a world of private jets and lavish estates, we still understand the pain of the jilted wife and the humiliation of the disgraced man. It is a very human story, and because so many of us have also had our own ups and downs in relationships we “get it”. More than that, we finally get to feel just a little bit superior because despite whatever failure we might have it turns out that Tiger has out done us all. That is why people generally are more interested in reading about Tiger Woods than climate change.

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