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Losing Your Markdom (and your Perspective in the Process)

Hey all. Welcome to another edition of ...And Marking Out. We're gonna get right down to business this week. The following is an EZBoard excerpt. The topic was "The X-Pac Conundrum"

Aureole: Bottom line, do you hate him enough to pay money to see him get beaten up?
Me: If I knew he was going to take a serious beating, hell yeah!!
BrewGuy: Is your name MARK?
Me: Hey, I'm allowed to be a mark from time to time, aren't I? Watching him get pummeled would definitely bring me some fan-like enjoyment. The name of my column is "...And Marking Out" afterall...
BrewGuy: Damn right you are! I was just gettin' on yer case - I wish more people would just mark out and enjoy it. :)

There seems to be a dangerous virus spreading around the Internet these days. It is destructive. It is subtle. It is insidious. If you allow it into your computer, it will change everything. Your computer will no longer be a thing of joy and pleasure. You won't be able to surf the Net in search of fun and interesting discussion and discourse. No, if you mistakenly let this virus into your life, you will lose all enjoyment as we know it. It is spreading like wildfire and there is no end in sight. It is highly contagious and hard as hell to get rid of. Many people you know (or think you know) already have this disease. You see, this virus has targeted the wrestling community.

It's Internet Columnist's Disease (ICD), also know as Lost Markdom. It is highly prevalent today and there appears to be no cure or vaccine coming in the near future. This disease mostly afflicts Internet Columnists, but it can spread to smarts and smarks alike, with little or no regard. Amazingly, marks don't seem able to catch this viral bug. No, all our research shows that they, in fact, are immune for some unknown reason. I write this column as a warning to all of you who read: watch out for the symptoms of ICD and avoid it at all costs. Trust me, you don't want to catch this bug. Here is a list of the most commonly observed symptoms, an FYI of sorts, so you know what to be mindful of:

Jaded Cynicism. Columnists suffering from ICD often have a perspective that is devoid of hope and pleasure. In essence, they have no perspective. No angle is compelling enough. No gimmick is over or true enough. No wrestler is in their rightful place on the card. No match has enough psychology or back-story. The talkers aren't being allowed to cut promos and the mat wrestlers are being forced to brawl. The more you enjoy a show, the more they hate it for different reasons altogether. In the ICD-infected columnist, there is no silver lining to the thundercloud looming over professional wrestling. There are no bright spots, just hours upon hours of torture as they watch, review and comment on our so-called sport. For them, the wrestling world holds absolutely no promise. They are grudgingly watching for a turn-around, but none seems forthcoming and so they sulk. And they complain. And they sign. And they never, ever mark-out. Not for anything or anyone. If they do, they certainly don't admit to it in public, that's for sure. So, if a columnist sounds jaded or cynical over 65% of the time, that's usually a sure sign that he or she is infected.

Microscopic, Detail-Oriented, Over-Analysis. The affected columnist will find any and every "wrong" or "out of sync" aspect to everything that is currently happening in all of the wrestling angles in any given promotion. Some little flaw of logic? They'll find it and exploit it to the fullest extent possible. They will champion each blemish and every mole as the most puss-filled rash of ache ever to develop on the face of wrestling. They scream over the subtle mistakes as loudly, if not louder, than the obvious ones. Examples of this symptom would be statements such as "Kurt Angle always wears his uni-tard top down when he's coming to the ring with 'intensity,' so by him having his uni-tard top up tonight, it shows that the WWF is stalling his planned push and his character is losing its edge." Comments lie these are dead giveaways of infection.

Denial. This is perhaps the most serious and impossible symptom to shake. Infected columnists delude themselves into believing that they are actually enjoying what they are watching, reviewing, and writing. They answer e-mail after e-mail accusing them of being jaded or biased with responses like: "If I didn't enjoy wrestling, I wouldn't watch over five hours of it every week. I mean, why would I subject myself to this, if I hated it so much?" Denial is a destructive psychological reaction that protects us from the truth. In these cases, denial protects the columnist from actually recognizing that he or she has been infected with a destructive virus. It is the most dangerous part of the virus as denial allows the infected person to continue spreading the germ to others without knowledge thereof or guilt therein.

Another interesting research finding is that most Internet Columnists, even after discovering that they are infected, choose not to be cured. They don't want to get better. Why? Ego. Let's admit it: there is a basic, unspoken level of egomania that comes along with believing that you are so knowledgeable about a topic that you should post your thoughts for all to see and hat you are allowed to tell everyone else how and what to enjoy. Being an Internet Columnist can sometimes give one a better-than-you or holier-than-thou self-perception, a constant looking-down-my-nose-at-you feeling. Infected columnists don't want to be cured because they don't want to mark-out. They don't want to have fun. They can't. They're infected and they LIKE living that way. It's easier than the alternative. To mark-out is to admit enjoyment. Admitting enjoyment knocks the Internet Comunist off their self-constructed high-horse and places them smack dab in the middle of the rest of the world full of marks. You know, marks, the people who actually enjoy wrestling programming 90% of the time. And they don't want to be associated with marks. Oh no.

Heaven forbid the Internet Columnist actually laugh when Edge says,"I pity the fool that goes through a table!" to Booker T. Or when Angle, after drinking a beer, says "Good Stuff. When did they start making this?" No, they can't admit that Albert is hard-working despite his lack of a true gimmick or that Big Show and Billy Gunn might actually get over and make a decent tag team. No, they can't do that. Doing that is an admission of markdom and that, in and of itself, is unacceptable. Unthinkable, even. They happily wallow in their diseased state. They LIKE it that way.

But you, my firend, can avoid all of this; this fate does not have to befall you, oh no. You can prevent this virus from ravaging your senses and eventually your life. Although there is currently no cure for ICD, contracting the virus can be prevented. Just follow these easy steps:

Hit the Back Button. When you come across jaded, hyper-critical analysis or explanatory denial, abandon that website. Don't read that stuff. Know the symptoms. Recognize infected persons and avoid them like the plague that they are. Occasional reading is acceptable if you recognize a columnist has the virus, but avoid prolonged exposure at all costs. Prolonged exposure can be terminal to your markdom. If you find that you can't stop reading an infected person's column, delete their site from your favorites. Fast. While you still can.

Drink a few Beers. Nothing puts the mind out of the mood for hype-critical analysis and in the mood for mindless enjoyment like a few cold ones. I'm not advocating drinking while enjoying every show, just occasionally. If you find yourself exhibiting symptoms, toss a few back during RAW or SmackDown! I guarantee you won't care who was the first wrestler down the ramp during the main event run-in or why the WWF hasn't completely changed Angle's character for his face turn.

Mark-Out. In the confines of your bedroom or basement, let it loose. Laugh out loud when something is funny. Throw the remote at the television when your favorite wrestler gets screwed. Jump-up and spill your beer (or other beverage) when your guy wins the championship. And be proud of it. Don't be afraid to admit that you actually, you know, ENJOY what you're watching. Because if you're not enjoying it, then why the hell ARE you watching, anyway?

So there you have it. The virus, its symptoms, how to recognize its presence in others, and how to avoid contracting it. Take heed, you may think ICD can't possibly be at your favorite site (and it may not be now), but it is everywhere. It is destructive. It is subtle. It is insidious. It does not discriminate. It knows no age, race, gender or geographical boundaries. And if you're not careful, you could be the next victim. Remember, prevention is the key.

**Special thanks to Scott Keith, Aureole and BrewGuy for inspiring this column.**

Until next time: Be a fan. Drink beers. Mark out. Care less.

I'm out.


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