Wednesday, December 17, 2014

37. Freedom from Pop Culture

Sometimes the internet gives me an out of body experience. Typically this happens when I am in the midst of reading something incredibly mundane, and a feeling comes over me like a creeping chill. I will be on page 14 of some list like "17 Child Stars Who Turned Out to Have Murdered Their Identical Twin and Stolen Their Identity!" and suddenly I am struck by my place in the universe. I think about the grand scale of the cosmos, the profound improbability of my having been born at all, and the infinite factors of history, society and sheer chance that went into my actuality on this tiny, unassuming planet in the vacuum of space. And here I am, looking at the face of a person I've never met and only vaguely recognize from that time they pretended to be someone interesting on a two dimensional pretty-picture-machine.

In other words, existence is pretty damn cool, but sometimes I waste it by looking at famous people on the internet.

What's funny about this is that I really don't care about these people at all. I don't! And I'm not just one of those people who says she doesn't care, while secretly pawing through Cosmo at the drug store and feeling smugly superior about how much plastic surgery someone's done to their face. I actually, seriously don't care. I still can't tell the difference between Katy Perry and Zoey Deschawhatsit and I don't ever want to be able to tell the difference because I like the idea that it's the same person and she is just OWNING THE WORLD.

The problem is that living in society rather than hiking means that I have almost constant access to the internet. That means that in spite of myself, I am on facebook or other websites. And because the internet was designed by evil scientists to get us all to buy more weight loss pills, almost every page has at least one picture of some famous person with really white teeth trying to sell me happiness in the form of a car, or a dress, or one of those awesome vacuum-suction machines that you use to just suck the happiness straight out of other people.*

*This product does not exist, but if it did, I would destroy it with my Care Bear Stare.

For some reason, even though I don't care on any philosophical level about any of this hooey, I still catch myself being inexplicably drawn to these links, like a zombie staggering toward a plate of brains, or a little spaceship sailing unawares across an event horizon. By the time I realize what's happening, it's already too late to escape.

When I was a few months into hiking, I felt a sudden blissful awareness that I had not spent a single moment of my time looking at red carpet dresses or feeling any pressure to come up with some sort of opinion about some stranger's naked rear end. I loved that when I would very briefly surface once or twice and check the internet, I had no idea what anyone was talking about in regard to pop culture, and I had a solid excuse.

When people get all caught up in pop culture stuff, they get really confused when you don't also know all of the gossip they know. There's really nothing wrong with wanting to know gossip! It's fun, it's light, and it helps pass the time when you're trying to avoid doing paperwork at your job. That's why I've always tried to be just a little bit in the know, so that I don't hurt anyone's feelings or come off as being a jerk on her high horse. But if you live in the woods, no one can feel badly about you being pop culture illiterate!

"Oh, did you hear about so-and-so's cranium reduction surgery?! About time! That dude's head was HUGE!"

"I didn't hear about that."

"Why not?! It, like, broke the internet."

"First of all, you're not even speaking proper English. You can't break the internet because the internet is an immortal god of evil that feeds on our sweet human essence, and it cannot be broken. Second of all, I've been living in the woods for the past six months."

"Oh. That's cool."

The other excellent thing is that you can continue to use this excuse for months afterward, even when it doesn't apply anymore.  I want to clarify that I wasn't trying to escape other people talking about pop culture, I was trying to escape the part of myself that was inextricably drawn to it.

If you live in the woods you can escape from all of this. And if you long-distance hike, then you also can escape the assumption that you're just a crazy guy that lives in the woods.

Win-Win!

Love,
Clever Girl

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