2.285. On Image and Reference

Yesterday I took a stab at our modern society. I called us a referential culture. What I meant by that is we are obsessed with maintaining the image of what we thought to be cool, acceptable, or special, and hardly at all willing to push forward on our own to create something new. In thinking about this blog I found myself listening to rappers talk about the trappings of what makes them successful. Almost everyone I listened to referenced the same set of items and achievements that qualified them as a success. In fact, all of the songs pointedly referenced the same stuff without doing much more than changing the cadence of the words. Their efforts were no more extraordinary than the gaggle of girls I see every single day wearing versions of the same outfit or men acting in almost the exact same way as half a dozen youtubers. It’s become a running joke in my house that all youtubers open in exactly the same way (what’s up guys?! or Hey, guys. It’s your boy “whoever”). We’ve gotten so used to being/providing a version of X that we no longer stop to ask why–or even consider being Y. Moreover any individual that shows even a basic ability to be better soon becomes treated like a hero. Look for evidence no further than the sport of baseball. Recently a Japanese pitcher joined the American baseball league. He, being a legit athlete, can hit and throw. He is hitting home runs and pitching near perfect games. Here in America, we expect a player to be able to do one or the other. As he is doing both, the sport is losing its collective mind.

Note: It isn’t that people cannot do both skills, it is simply not expected because it hasn’t been expected in a very long time. We got locked into specializations and forgot that from the age of little league kids were expected to do it all. I’m not saying this dude isn’t an awesome player. I’m just saying that nobody tries to do anything except what is expected and already tread ground, so him doing something different is likely to land him as rookie of the year.

That is how things are now. No new and reward for maintaining the image best. I personally remain unimpressed.