The other night, I had the stark realization that I know entire too much about Taylor Swift. I mean, she seems like a lovely girl. She's very pretty and appears to be genuinely caring and friendly. But there is absolutely NOTHING I need to know about her. And about any other "famous" person. Or anything in popular culture.
This made me realize that there is no reason to check how my sports team has done. The game is over and I didn't watch it. It makes as much sense to check yesterday's Pirates score as it does to check the result from 100 years ago. (May 6th, 1915, the Pirates defeated the Saint Louis Cardinals 9-3 at Forbes Field.)
A case could be made that knowing about popular culture helps with social connections. Only cranks respond to every discussion of popular culture by pointing out that they don't follow such things. But that just means I need to know that Taylor Swift exists and that she can be categorized as a singer/songwriter. Beyond that, I can admit ignorance, which should actually help me socially, since people like to talk and to feel important by sharing information.
The case can also be made that this year's baseball results matter because they determine if my team will win a championship. But how much does that actually effect me? Why not just continuously relive the 1979 season? (May 6th, 1979, the Pirates lost to the Saint Louis Cardinals, 4-2 at Busch Stadium.)
While I was thinking this, I was going through blog posts on my Feedly feed, and I came across one of Tyler Cowen's "Assorted Links" posts on Marginal Revolution. I tweeted, "What if @tylercowen 's 'assorted links' is just a way to keep us busy reading interesting garbage while he is actually productive?" Dr. Cowen immediately retweeted it, and since he had 51,900 followers (and I had 31), that sort of increased its exposure. I picked up another follower (yea, 32!) and my tweet got 12 additional retweets and 40 favorites.
Of course, the entire point is, none of that matters. I'm wasting my life learning the fake-rap parts of Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" while I continue to speak woefully-inadequate Mandarin Chinese.
(Speaking of wasted lives, what happened to Comic Book Guy between 1997 when, facing annihilation, he said, "Oh, I've wasted my life," and 2007 when, in the same situation, he declared, "Life well spent!"? One online commenter speculated that his heart attack in 2001 changed his perspective, but since Comic Book Guy isn't real and so doesn't have a perspective, I say the more-believable answer is that society has rejected the idea that there are larger ideals to serve than your own gratification. In 1997, there still existed an objective standard against which to measure how a life was spent; 10 years later, anyone who still believed that had been brainwashed by the patriarchy.)