Let me tell you about this thing I’ve planned to post about for a couple years now, but every time I thought, “okay, today is the day I’ll post that,” someone would engage in the behavior I was talking about or a similar behavior, and everyone knows that you can’t say something annoys you without every person who has ever engaged in such a behavior one, assuming it is about him specifically, and two, concluding that you must hate them as a person in total because this one common behavior kind of annoys you. Then you have to go through the whole polite, accepted process of justifying why you’re annoyed and inventing circumstances that allow you to say, “No, it doesn’t annoy me when YOU do it. When YOU do it, it’s fine.” So I needed to achieve some distance from any kind of specific instance so as to fully assure everyone I know it’s not about you, I don’t hate you, and keep doing it, I don’t give a shit, I’m just writing a blog here.
So this is kind of in two parts, because if I don’t put it in two parts, I’ll just go off on a tangent on the real part, and you know how I hate to do that. This is the first part, which is something about me that I guess makes me more sensitive to the second part. Well, sensitive isn’t the right word, it’s not like I get my feeler hurt if it happens, it’s just a thing. But because of my personal experience, I probably note it happening more than other people might make a note of it, but I don’t know that for sure. I’m not you. Anyway. First thing. About me. I’m going to move to a new paragraph for ease of reading, not for dramatic impact.
I don’t really like movies. That might be too harsh. I’m really neutral on movies as a thing. I haven’t seen many compared to the average person, I think. I kind of find movie theaters uncomfortable and then just never really get around to seeing many at home. This isn’t new. I haven’t seen much in recent years other than the Harry Potter movies, and I haven’t seen a lot of stuff that’s considered standard for my generation. I don’t think this is a big thing, really, or unique to me. There are probably tons of people just like me. I do consider myself to be the most average person I know, so normally I’d assume a huge amount of the population is exactly like me. It probably is, but slightly less than the normal giant portion. I’m pretty used to the gasps of shock when things come up, you know, “WHAT? You haven’t SEEN THAT?” I don’t know, I was doing something else that day. Sometimes I remember exactly what I was doing that day, like when I opted to take a practice SAT instead of watching Jurassic Park or when my friend turned on Star Wars and I said, “Let’s do something else.”
It’s not a thing at the TIME, though. It doesn’t become a thing until the time has passed and you’re an adult, and someone is shocked that you didn’t see something that they – or a large number of theys – consider to be a quintessential part of growing up from years 19XX to now. So, right, there’s fairly often a bit of “HOW have you not SEEN that?” in my life. I don’t know how often it’s in yours. I usually just shrug it off. There’s not really a “how” involved. I just didn’t watch it. It wasn’t required, I didn’t do it. That’s the whole story.
Moving on to part two, the actual thing. I am kind of baffled by – okay, I’m moving away from annoyed. I’m not really annoyed, it’s not the right word. Baffled is closer. I can’t work myself around to the mindset of people who say these kinds of things, because it me, it doesn’t really make sense. It’s baffling, so that’s what we’re going with. So, how often do you hear someone say something like – if the someone is you, that’s fine, I don’t hate you, none of this means I hate you – “I was talking to some high schoolers today and they had no idea who Popular Singer/Band/Actor of my time was!” Or “I overhead some college girls talking today and they had never heard of This Movie. I FEEL SO OLD.” Often followed with something like, “Kids today don’t appreciate the classics” or “It must be unique to this one specific young person because there’s no way huge swaths of people don’t know something that everyone knows.”
I don’t get it. I mean, I get it, but I don’t, when I really think it through. People of a younger generation don’t appreciate key elements that felt like a dear and important part of your growing years. It’s shocking, I guess, to find that something so deeply appreciated by and ingrained in you has not even bounced off the surface of today’s younger people. And I suppose it can make them seem shallow, because you have such a deep appreciation and if they don’t even KNOW who it IS, there’s no way they have such a deep appreciation of things.
But here is what I think: it’s not even remotely unusual that someone who grew up years separated from the cultural experiences of your youth wouldn’t catch a reference to them or even have heard of them before. Why would they? There’s no expected responsibility on young people to take the time to research into the back catalogs of everyone who came before. We didn’t, not most of us, not to any huge extent. I know – WE know who the classic rock gods who came before our popular music were. But so do they. They know the big names, generally. But when they’re thinking of appreciating classic songs and older music, maybe it’s… I don’t know, Green Day.
It’s weird to me to be shocked and appalled at the lack of cultural knowledge of younger people, because it’s assuming that your cultural knowledge and experience is the universal one, which is a natural thing to do. But how deeply aware of college students’ impactful cultural experiences are you, or of teenagers? Do you know all the songs that are going to remind them of their last year of high school, and have you seen all the movies they’re going to be excited to show their own kids some day? Probably a bit, but not the whole rich cultural background they’re going to carry to your own age. It doesn’t really make sense for you to do know all of it as if you’d experienced it, because you haven’t experienced it. Same as they haven’t experienced yours. All of it is available to everyone, but if you don’t feel like taking it in, you’re not going to, and why would you? It’s not yours, really.
It’s not really weird to be shocked at a younger person’s lack of what you consider to be basic knowledge or general experience, because it happens to everyone. But when you really think it through, it doesn’t make sense. There’s no real reason to be amazed that a person hasn’t seen a certain movie or has never heard of your teenage favorite band. They didn’t watch the movie because it wasn’t important to them. They haven’t heard that band because they were, at best, a fetus when the band was popular and fetuses aren’t known for their expansive knowledge of popular culture.
I realize I’m blending two things together here – my own “failure” to take in a lot of the popular media of my own generation and the perceived failure of younger generations to appreciate the popular media of my generation, but I think they kind of go together. There are a lot of weird things we do because they’re things we do, but when you take the time to think them through to the end, they don’t actually make much logical sense. So, that’s all.
This is what Penelope looks like now, if you’re interested.
How have you all been? What’s going on? Anything interesting you want to tell me? I’m here all day.