Friday, November 30, 2012

The pitfalls of cultural isolation



[Editor's note] I had an epiphany tonight after watching this week’s episode of Glee. Although I was pleased to see that it has transitioned nicely from a high school dramady to something more adult and solid, the epiphany wasn’t about the show.

No, tonight’s epiphany was about me and how I relate to the world. Or, as you will come to understand, how I don't relate to the world.

At some point late last year I made a committed effort to remove myself from a lot of things that most people would consider essential for the modern world. I logged off Facebook. I stopped watching popular television shows (this is where Glee comes in). I stopped going to the movies. I stopped listening to Top 40 radio stations. I even stopped reading the news, which long-time Jerry Curl readers have undoubtedly noticed.

My abject rejection of contemporary culture is not really anything new. I could probably write a lengthy dissertation on the inadequacies of Taylor Swift. However, the persistence and vehemence of my self-imposed cultural exile has been quite remarkable. You know something’s amiss when you feel like an old man in a room full of your contemporaries.

This is probably a good time to apologize to those whose interests I unkindly discarded and/or disqualified in my short-sightedness.

The truth is that under the foolish guise of being above it, I have missed a lot of important things. Everything has some redeeming quality to it, if only one is willing to look for it. Everything except the Kardashian’s-- I’ll never ever understand that. My point is that I have not always been willing to look for the positives in a culture I don’t usually understand.

I’m also a little embarrassed to admit that a lot of my isolation had to do with my failures in academia. For so long I defined myself through the success of schooling. Then I got to college and hated it... And subsequently failed at it, repeatedly. Maybe in some ways I connected my disdain for modernity to my hatred of school. After all, there’s only so many status updates you can write about hating math. As it turned out, because school was such a source of uncertainty and grief, I opted out of social media and seemingly out of a lot of people’s lives.

This is probably a good time to apologize to the friends and acquaintances I allowed to fall by the wayside in moments of weakness and shame.

Anyway, this is all by way of saying that a change in attitude is in store. Fighting the currents of time have not made me any stronger or wiser. Exactly the opposite, I’m finding out. I believe it’s time to rejoin the land of the living. To be an active, vocal, and appreciative participant in the lives of others and in the interests they hold dear.

Tonight it was the new episode of Glee. This weekend it will be Wreck-It Ralph. Beyond that, I’m open to any and all suggestions.

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