Not Caring About Popular Things Does Not Make You Special
If you had told the “Super Bowl Shuffle” obsessed nine year old me that someday the Super Bowl would be played in my home town of Atlanta, and the only thing I would find remotely interesting about the whole gaudy, money-choked, grotesquely spectacle would be the fact that Danny Trejo was coming to town to hand out free tacos, I would probably have a few questions. First, I would express surprise that I had moved to Atlanta. Then I would ask who Danny Trejo was and finally I would ask what could have happened to make me so powerfully apathetic about a game so important to our culture that it’s practically a goddamned national holiday. And not one of the shitty ones, either. We’re talking Christmas or Thanksgiving. One of the good ones.
I was not even remotely interested in watching the Super Bowl. So I went to a restaurant and spent game day reading Milo Yiannopoulos’ Dangerous for My World of Flops. On a similar note, I similarly very much intend not to watch the Academy Awards. That similarly would have boggled the mind of the younger me that spent roughly eighteen years (a decent stretch) as a film critic for whom The Oscars were like the goddamned Super Bowl.
I would like to state right here that not giving a mad-ass fuck about The Super Bowl or The Oscars does not make me special. It doesn’t mean that I am too cool and hip and different to care about the things people are expected to care about.
Yet there is a sizable contingent of the online world that labors under the delusion that not caring about something others care passionately about makes you cool and not caring about anything means you win the Internet with your super-powered apathy.
To borrow the title of a prescient Ben Folds Five song, the internet, particularly the part devoted to comment sections and social media posts, represents an endless battle to see who can care less. There are plenty of folks online who expect gold stars and shiny non-participation trophies for blowing strangers’ minds with the extent of their indifference towards popular things.
Not caring about the Super Bowl or Oscars as a 42 year old dad, husband and small business owner just means that things that interested me before don’t interest me anymore.
There’s not even anything unusual or surprising about this dynamic. Of COURSE our interests are going to change with time. Our lives become fuller and more complicated and more complex as we age into adulthood and have families and careers and buy homes. It stands to reason that we’re not going to be as emotionally invested in pop music and blockbuster movies and festivals and dancing and concerts as we were when our responsibilities were lesser to the point of being non-existent.
Part of the reason I make a special point of going to the Gathering of the Juggalos is because I want to fight the powerful inclination to care about less and less until you reach a point of not really caring about much at all. I want to remain emotionally invested in Juggalo nation. I want to keep going to Phish shows and feeling free and connecting with some of the most cherished parts of my past even though I’m well into my forties and it looks silly for a man my age to dance in public while on drugs. But you know what? I don’t care.
My life today revolves around my family and my career. If something does not involve either I’m going to have a hard time getting interested in it. Honestly, if someday paid me to write about the Oscars I would instantly start giving a fuck because it would then become work and as you might have gleaned by now, work is pretty goddamn important to me. It’s borderline sacred.
Here’s the thing: not caring about the Super Bowl or the Oscars or The Big Bang Theory or Ariana Grande’s love life or Marvel movies doesn’t make you cool or weird or interesting. But passionately evangelizing on behalf of things you’re genuinely, sincerely excited about just might, assuming it’s not, you know, Glenn Beck Youtube videos or anything.
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