Feb 07, 2023, 05:55AM

The Dark Side of Fun

The release of dopamine signals ecstasy.

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All aboard for fun time. This burning desire for the search for fun isn’t as mysterious as aliens, pyramids, or Spam. It’s a chemical reaction that gets adrenaline pumping and endorphins flowing. The release of dopamine signals ecstasy. Everyone has a sweet tooth for excess and excitement. Sorry kiddos, that crazy fun ride left town long ago. Fun’s now commonplace for kids of all ages from nine to 90. That “go to” spot for thrills and chills to a fun place everyone wants to be. It appears to be shut down, and boarded up. The roof leaks, and it’s a swampy mess inside.

No fun from now on! What was once considered fun no longer follows old-timer rules. The happy people and places disappear, leaving nothing but a few used ticket stubs and faded memories. We need to find new ways for a good time. It sounds easy, but it’s hard looking for stuff to do in the modern age, finding something fun that won’t kill, maim, or detrimental to your health.

In the Roman Empire, people congregated in amphitheaters and the giant Colosseum in Rome fit the bill for a wide variety of entertainment purposes. Watching sporting events, military battle reenactments, gladiator games, feeding Christians to wild lions, vomitoriums, where they went to puke, so they could eat more food at the smorgasbord, and old fashion orgies.. Sort of like today's corporate sporting events, multiplex movies, and amusement parks, except nobody gets killed, gang-raped, or puked on. Most of the time. The Greeks were a bit more civilized and refined, inventing the Olympic Games, and the theater of comedic tragedies, and dramas.

Once there were rich Egyptians, like the pharaohs who held mammoth banquet pageants filled with songs, music, dance, jugglers, wrestlers, and jesters, just for the fun of it. At a rich person’s banquet, guests were given a dollop of perfumed tallow to put on their heads. It melted slowly, leaving the wearer greasy but smelling nice. Today we have deodorant sticks, and aerosol air fresheners to mask the funk. The circus, theme parks and carnivals, to amaze and amuse. Plus fast food restaurants in which to feast, but no vomitoriums. Not exactly a banquet fit for a king, but definitely greasy.

Some have fun attending church. That’s it, just church. They spend all week looking forward to Sunday mornings. Others enjoy bowling, horseshoes, karaoke and trivia bars are a popular diversion. Rabid fans love football and baseball. Anything with a ball in it, plus the weird uniforms, customs and fanatic rituals that go along with that expensive world. I can’t imagine it. It’s bizarre, the fiery hoops people will jump through to find fun, loving sports events. Whatever your pastime is, it comes with a price tag. Some are minimal, but most are extravagant. Today’s hobbies run the gamut from leisurely to deranged. 

Whittling wood is inexpensive; all you need is a sharp pocket knife. So much fun. Obsessive coin and stamp collectors are run-of-the-mill fun. Toy and train collectors, junk collectors, rag and bone hucksters, there are all types of board games for the bored, cosplay, video gaming, solitaire and Wordle. A kid kicking a can, playing with a stick, hiding in a cardboard box pretend fort, jumping in puddles after a rainstorm, or making mud pies are no longer popular. Friday and Saturday nights of were designated weekend fun times. Bar hopping, club dancing, dinner-and-a- movie dates, there was so much fun to be had before Sunday church and the routine work week started all over again.

There’s a dark side to fun. War’s not fun, but humans seem to enjoy killing their perceived enemies, at home or abroad. They relish the thought of smiting their foes, asserting power, and inflicting pain upon others. Just ask any serial killers. The dominance of will and control in a pseudo sexual sadistic ritual dance of madness. A twisted blend of torture and pleasure found throughout history. Fun isn’t always fun. 


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