The Emmy Effect
How Awards Lose Their Shine
Look, five years ago I won an Emmy.
If you’re rolling your eyes and are tempted to click away, stick with me here. I promise it isn’t gonna be what you’re imagining.
Many of us have won different awards in life. Professional excellence accolades, sports trophies, Pizza Hut Book-It ribbons. Okay, fine, so I never won a sports trophy (sorry Dad). I did absolutely crush it reading those K-5 books and eating child-sized personal pan pizzas though.
Awards serve as memorable moments of accomplishment that come with tangible objects we can use to remember them (or, more ideally, objects we can eat). They often come with some prestige as well. If I could just remember how many Book-It ribbons I’d earned, I would put it on my LinkedIn. What better way to prove to employers that I know how to read at an elementary school level?
There’s a hitch that comes with the bigger awards though. These are the professional ones. The ones we should probably be most proud of. The ones that, ideally, would be most impactful on our lives. Ones shaped like giant gold statuettes.
The problem I’ve found is that I can’t really bring it up organically in conversation without looking like a braggadocio jackass.
I despise talking about my job. Networking and talking about it is about as fun as washing down a mouthful of rocks with a glass of Drano. Despite my aversion, everyone else still brings it up. It’s society’s conversational crutch topic. Since I’m forced to discuss my job, I’d like a way to show people I’m actually good at it. The Emmy seems like an efficient way to accomplish this, but in practice just comes off as boasting.
I won it as part of the Suncoast Emmys, which is a regional competition for TV stations and production companies. That way they can win awards while national shows like The Office have their own separate division.
It still looks exactly like any other Emmy. It’s just regional. My fictional therapist would probably be upset with me for belittling the magnitude of my award, but it’s accurate. It’s pretty cool to have one and winning it was definitely a high point in my career. It’s an honor given to only the very best of entries and sets me apart from the crowd.
I’ve gotta admit though: it hasn’t done shit for me since I won it.
Exiled from its conversational use, it just sits on my shelf. There’s also mention of it on my website and other professional outlets. Neither of these two uses have led to anything substantial. As you can see below, I’ve tried to put it to work doing other activities. Alas, it’s not great at those either.
While writing this article, I was struck by the idea that maybe I could sell it. Hell, I could use the money, given that the Supreme Court just canceled the student debt relief I was hoping for. Could the answer to my doldrums and financial problems be as simple as that?
Apparently, it would be worth roughly $217,600 if it was made of solid gold. They claim the award is supposed to be priceless to the winner, but I’d be sorely tempted at that price. Unfortunately, the Television Academy is a bit cheap and just the thin outer coating is gold. They’re worth roughly $350 in materials. Just tree fiddy.
Even when kept polished, awards lose their shine over time. I’m dubbing it the Emmy Effect. Psychologists would label it the Hedonic Treadmill. If you’re unfamiliar, this is the tendency that humans will return to a baseline level of happiness not long after experiencing a change in their circumstances.
In practice, it’d be like if I won a ton of money and was super excited. I could pay off my debt, take a trip, maybe even purchase a non-demonic couch. Over time though, I would become accustomed to my new comfier couch lifestyle and adjust to my new “normal” baseline of happiness.
Winning an award strikes me as very similar to this. We go up on stage in front of peers and families, hold it up for the pictures, maybe even give a brief speech. This high lasts for a few weeks or months as we update our resumés and receive hundreds of likes on social media from friends. Over time, the buzz naturally fades. It becomes just another object in the living room. One that we consider selling for spare change.
In the end, this piece is a warning. Another, longer way to say, “Enjoy the good times while you’re living them.”
An award is really only worth the positive feelings it engenders in us in the moment. The rush of dopamine, serotonin, and other feel good chemicals. The future utility of social credit from saying “I have this award” is no guarantee. You could be stuck like me, with no humble way to bring it up at parties.
Five years out and this Emmy is giving me barely any dopamine. It’d be nice if there was a way to re-experience the same rush as the initial win. My (still fictional) therapist would probably say that’s ill-advised though. If that was possible, people would get addicted to just reliving their previous highs.
I think I’m basically just describing what heroin is. If only my Emmy dispensed heroin from itself. I bet the street value on that would be huge.
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3 Funny Things
1 - Holding Pizza
I love comedy that focuses on our every day minutia like this. Probably why Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm are my two favorite shows. Anyway, here’s a lovely short sketch from Julie Nolke. If you need more of a pick-me-up this week (I certainly do) or ever, have yourself a grand time binging her channel.
2 - Rage Bait is Funny
I aim to provide utility in addition to just laughs here at this newsletter. Do you need some DIY places to hide your belongings? LOOK NO FURTHER. My personal favorite is the chicken method. How long are we keeping the unwrapped, raw chicken in the fridge that it becomes a viable hiding spot for valuables?? Let me know if you’ve tried it.
3 - Doggo Sleeping
This one is equal parts funny and cute. I don’t know this pup’s name, so I’ll call him Oscar. And Oscar, pal, we’ve all been there. I’m nodding off a bit…right…now…
I write this newsletter so that other people will read it. Be one of those people, all the time, by subscribing today.