Compare and Contrast

Comparing pieces of media to one another can be a great way to tell others what books, shows, music, movies, games, etc you’ve been loving, or not loving. It can help you relate your taste to other people, or to understand theirs. Or to understand your own so you can figure out what you like and don’t like, and discover more pieces of media to love and share. But sometimes it’s not fair to constantly compare pieces, sometimes they need to stand on their own.

By using comparison, it can take some of the guesswork out of deciding what’s important while describing something. Instead of describing the setting, characters, plot, theme, etc from the ground up, if I can get you to think of a similar thing that you already know about, then just tell you what’s different about them, we’ll get on the same page a lot faster, and bond over things we like a lot faster too.

“It sounds like [this other thing].”
“Exactly, except for all the parts that aren’t the same.”
“Cool, that reminds me of this other you should check out.”

It can serve as a good jumping off point for making recommendations to others, assuming the other person is looking for more of a similar thing. The common ‘If you liked that, you’ll love this’ way of recommending things. If you know a piece of media that someone else loves, and especially if you know what they love about it, it’s easy to shift those details into something else that may have similarities that you think is good.

“Oh, if you like that, you’ll probably like this. Because it’s similar, except different.”

But it can also create an unnecessary competition between pieces of media. Being held to the standard of something you already consumed and loved sets a high bar for anything remotely similar that you come across in the future. On the other hand, being arguably better than something comparable makes the comparable item feel retroactively less good.

“It wasn’t as good as [something else].” -or- “I liked that better than [something else].”

There are so many pieces of media in existence already, and plenty more on their way. While it’s common and easy to compare things, there’s a point where they just need to be allowed to be their own thing. While it’s fair to see two creators take the same idea and think one of them did it better, it’s not really fair to push the other one down even further in the ranks simply because it wasn’t your favorite.