What if there was a theory that explained the way people are? What if this theory just happened to borrow heavily from a popular video game franchise? Well, if such a theory existed it would probably be called, The Madden Customization Theory, and it would probably blow your mind. I’m not sure if John Madden’s video games were the first to introduce the concept of character customization, but they were certainly one of the earliest and most popular. It is possible that some of you don’t know what I am talking about. You’ve never played a video game, or you’ve never had the experience of customizing a virtual character. Do not fret, explanations are coming.
We don’t have any control over when we’re born, who we’re born from, or even if we’re born at all. It’s really a sobering truth if you give it the thought time it merits. There is an infinity that came before you, and one way or another there is an infinity after you. If that’s not humbling enough, some really smart people believe that you don’t even have free will in this brief life. Either your circumstances, or genes, or God determine your every choice from cradle to grave. Wow, that’s a lofty concept, and I’m willing to bet humanity was never meant to fully understand it. Regardless, it is important to recognize these philosophical and religious concepts of time, will and eternity if we are going to have a foundation for this incredible theory.
In the above image you see numbers and categories. The numbers, or points, range from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the maximum skill in that particular category. Aaron Rodgers is a real football player, so his statistics have been set by the programmers of the game. The custom character screen is similar, except that you can choose how to disperse the points. So if I wanted a player to be fast, I could put most of the points in the category of speed. The catch is that you’re only given so many points to spread around. You have to decide what kind of player you want him to be. Sacrifices must be made. Priorities must be set.
What if we had the ability to somehow determine the kind of people we would be, before we were even born? It would only be fair that each of us would have the same number of “points” to disperse as we deemed appropriate. So, if I wanted to be book smart I could put points towards that, and might have to sacrifice some athletic ability. Or, if a woman wanted to be more attractive she could overload her points in the beauty column and sacrifice common sense. It is a rare person who excels in most categories. For many of us, there are clear strengths and weaknesses, which often appear to be random. The Madden Customization Theory offers an explanation to account for the big guy without a brain and the scrawny guy with an I.Q. of 150. We all had the same number of points, but we all have different priorities.
The Madden Customization Theory probably wouldn’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny from serious thinkers, but I’m willing to bet it struck a chord with you. It’s appealing to imagine that somewhere in a time long ago we had the power to choose who we would become. Maybe the best aspect of this theory isn’t what it assumes about the past, but what it says about the future. We are largely the result of our priorities. It matters who we want to become. That’s how real characters are created.
I’m sitting in Wendy’s the other day, and I notice that the fries are different. This disturbs me, and perhaps I will write about it in the future, but today I want to tell you about what I saw below the fries. On the place mat they wrote this little ditty about how the new fries come from Russet potatoes and they are sprinkled with sea salt. Also on the mat is a section boasting about how the fries contain no trans fats. Clearly, I thought, Wendy’s is trying to appear healthier.
But wait, Wendy’s isn’t healthy. What’s going on here?
I’ve noticed that trans fats have taken center stage in our nation’s health debate this past year. There was talk about banning salt in restaurants, but once people remembered that salt is an essential part of good tasting food they let it go. At least for now. San Francisco also passed legislation to ban the Happy Meal. You’ll remember a few years back McDonald’s was under pressure when a few fat people tried to sue them. So they added nutrition facts and got rid of the Super Size. Wendy’s also got rid of the Biggie Size. But once again, trans fats are on the chopping block today, and I have a hunch that the big food corporations are eating it up.
Here’s my theory. Trans fats have been identified as extremely unhealthy and unnatural. They offer no benefits to our bodies, and exist only to make food taste better. This makes trans fats the enemy. Very good. Once this enemy was identified by the public and the media it had to be addressed by the big food providers. Now, during all of this there was an ever growing awareness of the obesity epidemic in America. About 1 in 3 children are obese, and adults are even worse. So, food corporations had no choice but to respond to America’s increased demand for healthier fare. Some offered a baked alternative. Some offered a low calorie alternative. Some offered a low sugar alternative. And Some offered a low carb alternative. They made these small steps, but they continued to push the foods that made them wealthy. In order to continue the pressure to consume the same unhealthy foods, these corporations needed a distraction. They needed a way to convince the public that the old standbys were still good to eat. Trans fats provided the perfect scapegoat.
If the food never had trans fats, you can now boast Zero Grams Trans Fat!!!
If the food used to have some trans fats, you can boast Now with Zero Grams Trans Fat!!!
Do you see what I’m saying? This is a distraction. You read that something has no trans fat and you think, this is healthier. It still has 50 grams of fat and 1500 calories, but there are no trans fats. That means there is less fat. That means it is healthier, or at least relatively healthy. And that is my main point. By demonizing trans fats, corporations can make themselves and their food look better without having to sacrifice anything.
(I’m not trying to say that big corporations are pure evil. All I’m saying is that they work really hard to turn a profit, and they’ll use whatever they can to achieve that end. Certainly, trickery is one of their tools. So, if you’re going to eat this food, make sure you’re eating it for the right reason; it tastes incredible.)