I often feel that when it comes to popular culture, my peers are always at parties to which I am always late, where I barely know anybody else, where I am horribly underdressed , and where everybody talks about what they ate at the last party--to which I was also late, and so only got leftovers.
I'm the foreign exchange student, the extraterrestrial whose guidebook to this land is out-of-date, incomplete, and misspelled. I grin stupidly at everyone in the room, fail at conversation, and try not to stick my proboscis in my hosts' flower vase instead of the glass someone set out for me. I want to get assimilated, but at the same time, I can't help wondering why everyone gets so worked up about everything.
What I'm trying to say is that it's exhausting to try to keep up with the movies, TV shows, books, and music that everyone else seems to not only consume but also thoroughly digest. It seems to be the Thing to Do around here, so I feel a subtle pressure to join in, but it's a wonder nobody's head falls over from the sheer weight of everything they've crammed in there.
I tend to chalk these feelings up my old life in isolation, when the school library had what it had, the only decent bookstore I knew was a three-hour drive away, Internet access was rationed, the TV had less than 20 channels, and I just read or watched or listened to (1) what was there on the shelves, (2) what I could buy with my P50/week allowance, and (3) what I liked. And if I didn't like anything that was on, I went outside.
Now that I live here Where Everything Happens, I have online, offline, financial, convenient, and near-constant access to practically every piece of culture created in history. I can catch up on whatever I missed (the books, my God, the books) and get my hands on whatever's new.
I should be stuffing myself, licking my fingers, smacking my lips, and letting the juices of all those texts dribble down my chin. Instead, I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount on the table, ask to be excused early, and wish I could go outside.
It's not to say that I think I'm better than people who do consume so much culture; in fact, I wholly admire them and their capacity for what feels like everything everyone ever made in the world, as well as their ability to discern which consumable is, in fact, tasteful. But I think I'll go on reaching only for the things I might like and hope someone will want to talk about it later.