We live in a culture of superlatives, in which mediocrity is unacceptable. We are barraged daily with news of people winning the internet, failing epically, and otherwise swinging helplessly between the diametrically opposed poles of success and failure. This habit is particularly observable in popular culture, where the movie, TV show, or book of the moment is unfailingly either the best or the worst. Everything either sucks or rules, nothing can reside in a subjective middle like a quantum particle in multiple places at once.
Even when things are good—say, with year-end lists or award finalists—we must then argue about to what degree they are good. Is this thing more good than that other good thing? Does it matter? Can subjective arguments about subjectivity itself ever matter?
FIFA's annual Puskas Award for best goal of the year is a prime example. As Lauren Collins so thoroughly described in her recent evisceration of the 50 best restaurants in the world list, combing the globe for the best of anything (eat, play soccer, love) is an impossibly tall task. Why even bother trying? What are we accomplishing here? What's the fucking point?
Who's to say if Carli Lloyd's miraculous goal from midfield in the World Cup Final is better or worse than Alessandro Florenzi's improbable lob from the right midfield against one of the best keepers in the world or Messi deciding to simply dribble the ball from midfield into the goal himself? Why bother debating this at all, when doing so can only detract from these accomplishments? Why should we care?
Go outside, kick a ball, play with your children or dog or both, roll around in the autumn foliage, listen to a baby laugh, make sure everyone you love knows that you love them. And for the love of God don't spend another second thinking about who scored the best goal in 2014, because it was obviously Marcel Ndjeng.