Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Modest Request

That thing.

That thing that you absolutely love to the point where you want everyone in the world to share your enthusiasm.

That thing that three other people care about, no matter how hard you try to proselytize.

I see it all the time on Facebook, and do it myself. I know most of my FB friends accuse me of posting more about things I hate or that drive me crazy, but I think if you were to look at the totality of my posts (which is sounds like a task not dissimilar to trying to read “The Yellow King” [that way lies madness]), you’d see how much more I kvell about things than I bitch about them. (I think especially the mere act of sharing a link indicates a positive interest. Even if it’s a negative comment about what you posted, it shows a positivity in the mere fact that you chose that example – to get all post-modern.)

What irritates me about those posts (so much for that positivity thing) is their sometimes-cryptic nature. In that sense, they’re not too dissimilar from the other post I see all the time, where someone only vaguely hints at something without going into details and never explaining it. Posts such as “Well, dodged that bullet” or “That (went or didn’t go) well!” or “That moment when it all comes together …” may be satisfying to the poster, but leaves everyone else in the fog.

Just as puzzling is the photo or image of someone or something that you’ll know if you’re hip and in the know, but will otherwise leave you baffled. It’s like the (mainly) sneaker and sports drinks commercials where you’re shown an athlete or musician or actor that anyone would know; well, anyone except me. I like to think that I’m reasonably up on pop culture, but I still find it somewhat satisfying when I have no clue who these people are supposed to be. It’s the same reason I refuse to click on any video that appears to go viral. (And if nothing else, if it’s worth anything, it’ll show up on “@Midnight,” where, after viewing it, I’ll generally think “that was it?”)

Now, I’m not saying my taste is better than yours. (Even though I obviously think it is or I’d like the exact same stuff you do.) And I’m not saying your taste is better than mine. (Even though if it was, you’d like the exact same stuff I do.) I’m just saying there are those things that we love – whether it’s pre-Code movies or pre-1978 punk rock or 1950s knitwear or Victorian banquets – that no one else is going to share, no matter how enthusiastic you are about it. Or is there?

I remember in my early days at Yahoo, finding out that there was a community that was interested in collecting and cataloguing airline sickness bags – unused airline sickness bags, I hasten to add. After that, I realized that there’s a fellowship for any interest (and conversely that everything is a fetish for someone – don’t even get me started on “reflectoporn”). So even if you feel you’re the only person in the world who really appreciates the aesthetic beauty of tiki ashtrays sold by Sears stores in northern Ohio in the late 50s, you’re not. Someone else appreciates it.

But if you must post it in order to find that other person, please give the rest of us some context and education. Maybe you can convert us, or at least tell who or what’s in that picture you took the time to share and why it so matters.

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