Friday, April 02, 2010

Five Pop Culture Phenomena I Embrace

We're accentuating the positive this morning at the Answer Girl blog, because I've been at my computer for about 90 minutes and I've already made three potentially client-losing mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, right? I'm just having one of those mornings . . . right? I pay more attention to these things than anyone else does, right? Right? RIGHT?

Ah, well. I was already wondering about seasonal employment at one of central Maine's miniature golf courses or ice cream stands. If you hear about anything, let me know.

Anyway, I started to post another list of five more pop culture phenomena I don't get at all — "Lost," "American Idol," NASCAR, Mafia Wars on Facebook, the Tea Party movement — but then I thought it would be better for my frame of mind to come up with a list of five pop culture phenomena I do like, and consider to have enriched my life. Please leave your own favorites in the comments section.

1. Blogging. Gartner, the business research company, predicted in late 2006 that blogging would peak in 2007, and Technorati reported last year that the number of active bloggers was pretty much level between 2008 and 2009. Last year's "State of the Blogosphere" report found that 72% of active bloggers described themselves as "hobbyists," and that's how I'd describe my own blog, though it serves a limited professional development purpose as well. The Answer Girl blog is now six-and-a-half years old, and its value to me has been immeasurable. I'm not a major reader of other people's blogs, but I do check in with at least a dozen on a weekly-or-more basis. They've largely replaced magazines for me, which I know is not necessarily a good thing.

2. Facebook. Facebook is like crack for people who work at home. It's a virtual break room, and it's also reconnected me to people from almost every aspect of my life. In fact, Facebook shows me how people from different parts of my life know each other, when I'd have no reason to suspect this — a high school friend who works in the same office as a former colleague, a former colleague who turns out to be another friend's cousin, and so on. It's also been incredibly handy for staying in touch with my vast extended family, who are scattered all over the country.

3. The 24-hour news cycle. I watch it. I watch it all. I often keep MSNBC on all day, as background noise, if I'm working on something like a database project. I have the Huffington Post application on my iTouch, my default home screen is Google News, and I have the BBC headlines on my bookmark toolbar. I agree with every criticism; I know it distracts me. I can't help myself.

4. Wireless Internet. How did I live without it? I do, however, need to regulate my time online. I'm online all the time when I'm home alone, because it's company. It's completely unacceptable for me to be online when I'm around people, and it's a habit I need to break.

5. I Can Has Cheezburger. Otherwise known as LOLCats. It is a site that embodies everything I hate separately: anthropomorphizing animals, encouraging adults (and especially women) to behave like children, textspeak, emoticons, artificial online communities based on nothing but irrelevant comments, the glorification of "first" comments, etc., etc. . . . and yet, on a bad day, nothing cheers me up faster. Don't despise me for my weaknesses; surely you have guilty pleasures of your own.


Tom Ehrenfeld said...

What's interesting about this to me is the degree to which your pop culture phenomena are technology-driven. Would it be such five, ten, years ago? Do Hula Hoops (closer to my generation than yours of course) count as technology?

AnswerGirl said...

Five or even ten years ago the list would have been just as technology-driven, I think, since the tech stuff has made my entire lifestyle possible since 1999. But it was a fast change, and a radical one; I acquired my first PC in 1992, and didn't have a mobile phone until 1997.

I've just read an adorable novel called BELLWETHER, by Connie Willis, whose protagonist is a scientific researcher of fads and trends. BELLWETHER was published in 1996, before many of the major technological advances we now take for granted, but it feels uncanny in its prescience. I highly recommend it.

Richard said...

September of 2008 I was in NYC having on a working vacation. I stayed with my Uncle who tried to get me hooked on LOL catz. I get it, but I still don't get it, if you know what I mean.

Richard said...

ignore the first on