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[personal profile] bubbleblower
We're coming up on the Fourth of July, and that reminds me of fireworks. It's traditional, at least in this country, for people to set off fireworks on the Fourth of July.

This practice is rather dangerous, and the authorities have tried to put an end to it, but people keep doing it.

You'll hear public service announcements about how there's no need for people to do their own fireworks because they can go to professionally-run fireworks displays instead. But people still do their own, even when there are fairly stiff laws against it.

Why do they do this?

Imagine that people in some community have a tradition of inviting friends over for sing-along parties. People enjoy this, but for some reason the authorities want to put an end to the practice. (The analogy sort of breaks down here because the likely reasons for not wanting people to sing aren't as strong as the safety-related reasons for not wanting people to do their own fireworks, but bear with me on this.)

The Powers that Be set up a bunch of free concerts, run by professionals and starring big-name performers with big-budget production values, and try to persuade people to attend those instead of doing the sing-along thing at home.

That sort of works, but not really. People do go to the concerts, but they also still keep doing their own little sing-along parties with their friends. The argument that there's no need for ordinary people to do their own singing because the professional performances at the concerts are better and more spectacular doesn't seem to be persuading them.

The problem is that, official statements to the contrary, the sing-along parties in people's homes do fill a need that the concerts don't address. It's not so much a need for music as such, as it is social bonding and a chance to participate in some relatively intimate group activity rather than passively being anonymous spectators at a big event.

That's what the people who promote the big fireworks displays as a replacement for doing it yourself seem not to be aware of. Or maybe they are aware of it, but believe they can sweep it under the rug. But if they're trying to sweep it under the rug, it still keeps seeping out.
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