I live under a rock. I do not have a television, car, or Apple watch. I have never seen Game of Thrones, read a Harry Potter book, or played a video game. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, since I remember playing Pac Man a couple of times in college. When it comes to popular culture, which is an overstatement, I do not know who Kanye West is or why the Kardashians are even on television. I like the fact that they are Armenian, being sympathetic to the cause, but other than that I know nothing about them. Neither do I care to know anything. And the only reason I know about Caitlyn is that I used to eat Wheaties as a kid and remember Bruce on the box in 1976. Actually, I still eat Wheaties.
Social media can be a minefield. Those adept at it use terms like “trending,” “growth hacks,” and “interactors.” That last one is not a dinosaur but someone who either has interacted with you or chosen to follow you on Twitter. There is a protocol involved in which you acknowledge the interactor and thank them profusely with exclamation points. Those are the nice ones. The nasty ones are scary. They often engage in “rage porn,” which I suppose they do because they can hide behind an avatar or Twitter address. So, maybe they are dinosaurs.
Lest you think I am a snob or troglodyte, you should know that I have five Web sites, four Twitter accounts, eight email addresses, an iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, scanner, copier, printer, FAX, and two espresso machines. I learned early on that you can never have too many espresso machines. Or martini shakers. So, I live under a well-equipped rock. I am not a misanthrope as in Molière’s play. I like people. It’s just that I like them even better from a distance.
I have grown selective over the years, cutting out what doesn’t apply or have relevance to my life. That’s a lot. In fact, it’s most things. For instance, it took me a long time to accept that sports teams have absolutely nothing to do with me. Win or lose, the outcome has no bearing on my life except maybe something to talk about at barbeques (sorry, Warriors fans). I remember my parents telling me the same thing about Star Trek, which I used to watch religiously, along with Kung Fu. Captain Kirk, they said, wasn’t going to help me with my algebra. They were right. He didn’t. That’s not to say that if I contacted William Shatner tomorrow he wouldn’t respond with a quip about quadratic formulae, but that’s a different story.
Part of the reason I live under a rock is that my work lends itself to rockness. I read, write, edit, have skype conferences, and spend quite a bit of time on the social media I just disparaged. I do all of that under a rock. My life is plodding. My work is plodding. I am probably plodding. In fact, I could live in a cave on the island of Patmos and be quite content.
As an example of plodding, I came across the word “amok” in a psychology text recently. The text talked about the ancient practice of young men in Indonesia going on rampages. That led to morituri, the Roman gladiators who saluted the emperor with, “Ave, imperator, morituri te salutant” (“Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you!”). We’ve all seen the Russell Crowe movie. Morituri, in turn, led to kris, the “ridged, serpentine blade” used by young Indonesians on their rampages. When I searched kris, Kris Jenner came up, which led to the Kardashians, Caitlyn, and “kris,” as in “an irresistible boy” from Urban Dictionary. And that’s the short version. This entire process took about an hour-and-a-half. If I spend that much time on one word, you can imagine what the rest of my life is like.
Which brings me back to people. I have grown selective with them as well. The reason is that they can drift in and out of your life like a Kung Fu character, but in the end you are left with you. I’m fine with that. Aristotle said, “Those who have a great many friends and greet everybody familiarly are felt to be friends of nobody.” Take that, Facebook aficionados!
What saves me from myself is living in a city. I am forced to interact with people, to be an “interactor.” It also familiarizes me with popular culture so that I do not look like a moron, caveman, or Communist infiltrator. I’ve even heard about a new Jurassic Park movie (Son of Jurassic Park?). It made me remember my own experience of dinosaurs and breasts as a boy, even if human beings weren’t even around a million years ago.
For top photo, go to flickr.com Creative Commons (Terry Tyson); Star Trek, REMC. Haven’t had enough? Check out Robert Brancatelli and the re-release of Laura Fedora for summer. Note to self: Your best days are ahead!