The Most Irrelevant Man in the World

Xmas 2014!

No editor can stop him from posting Christmas photos in March. He is…The Most Irrelevant Man in the World!

His favorite musicians are eligible for AARP membership.

He was once this close to live-tweeting A Passage to India.

He thinks #TheDress is all the colors of the rainbow. He is…The Most Irrelevant Man in the World!

* * * * *

When we’re young, we’re plugged into the media around us — the movies, the TV shows, the Top-40 acts of our time, whatever our artform of choice — more deeply than our parents are. We may not know everything about everything, but we know more than necessary, enough to look like gurus. Sometimes we have to tell them what they’re looking at, explain the famous people they’ve never heard of, guide them gently when they wade into the pop-culture waters that may run shallow but never run dry.

Their generation had their own heroes and idols, some of whom might enjoy careers that span the decades and perpetuate their reign. Those keepers are a minority. Usually it’s the newest, the youngest, the freshest who rule the field while yesterday’s chart-toppers resort to indie-label releases, ignored solo albums, or nightly gigs in Branson or Wisconsin Dells. Last decade’s TV costars are downgraded to one-time special guests on other, less experienced actors’ series.

When we’re younger and have fewer responsibilities, we have the disposable time to dedicate to so much star-tracking. It’s one means of forging bonds with others like us, and we can help our peers and elders wise up whenever they have knowledge gaps.

Then we grow older and it’s our turn to get lost.

* * * * *

He felt so proud when he learned to type quickly without the normal “fingers on home keys” method.

He wants to write a 500-word essay on the deeper meaning of the morning hygiene tutorial in Heavy Rain.

He liked Crash more than Brokeback Mountain. He is…The Most Irrelevant Man in the World!

* * * * *

There’s not always a distinct moment where you can feel yourself disconnect from the sales charts, the cool kids, the all-encompassing zeitgeist, the social justice agenda, the water-cooler buzzwords, or whatever you thought kept you tethered. It’ll happen sooner or later, unless your career is in or around entertainment. Frequently not even they are immune. You’ll look at the TV schedule, see an unfamiliar title, and feel the confusion when someone delicately tells you it’s a show on its third season. You’ll drive near a theater and won’t be able to guess what’s playing based on the fragmented half-titles on the marquee. Your favorite TV hosts will interview strangers about their long-running young-adult book series. Another new rank of rappers will get rap wrong, upset you, and inspire you to tell everyone on Facebook who the real rappers used to be.

Someday you’ll no longer be master of that domain. You’ll be dethroned and lose your crown of expertise to the next viewers and readers in line. In this chain of trivia succession, the king and queen don’t stay the king and queen.

* * * * *

He never watched American Idol or The Voice, and only knows the one Survivor contestant he met at the State Fair.

He knows a thing or two about ethics, but can’t name a single gaming journalist.

He is never “on fleek”, is too weak to “throw shade”, and is proud to be nobody’s “bae”. He is…The Most Irrelevant Man in the World!

* * * * *

Most days I can get by without caring whether I’m trendy or square.

I enjoy finding new things and hearing new voices, but I wouldn’t diagnose this as fully dedicated neophilia. I’m not of the mindset that thinks, “If it’s not new, it’s crap!” And not everything new is awesome. It’s not like I’m finished with the last 80-200 years’ worth of humanity’s works and starved for more preoccupations. When work and responsibilities and faith-based tasks aren’t staring me in the eye, I’ve technically got a lot of catching up to do. Thousands of movies, books, shows, and other, more important items I’ve never seen are out there for the consuming. I’ll never get around to 99.5% of them, realizing that’s an understated figure. That doesn’t mean I should surrender and drop everything. The hope for me is that maybe 0.5% is attainable, and can include the old and the new in the mix. It’s a steady marathon to see how much mileage I can cover before I’m disqualified from the race.

Here’s the catch, in my case: if all my input is outmoded or obscure or thoroughly unloved, then I have to recognize that my output — i.e., my writing here on MCC — is likely to reflect that. Not everything I write is about entertainment, but it’s fair to say a significant chunk is. From time to time a childhood memory, a parental anecdote, a life lesson learned, or a current event might burrow from the back of my brain into the creative control center and burst forth onto the digital page. More often than not, for better or for worse, it’s what I’m currently seeing or reading or hearing about that informs what I’m in the mood to share, construct, deconstruct, express in a befitting manner, or toy with like a hyperactive cat.

But if I’m writing with the primary focus of Me Me Me, then I ought to accept that my audience will be limited to those who share the most intersections and commonalities with me. The odder and more opinionated I act, and the more I write about subjects that mean nothing to anyone but me, the smaller that Venn diagram shrinks and the smaller my audience becomes.

And the older I get…well, I suspect in the long run that’ll make matters worse.

In some ways the traffic figures bear that out. More readers show up to read about new stuff than about old stuff. If groveling for attention were the endgame, the obvious solution would be to write only about new things, avoid old things forever, and set fire to my backlog of not-new books and DVDs.

That won’t happen. Some of the culture’s latest and most beloved works are alienating me more than they used to, and I refuse to renounce the old. That choice will have consequences on my writing and on the reception to it. It’s up to me to accept that, or else tinker with the paradigm until the whole process becomes something I can accept.

Some days I can cope with that never-ending ultimatum better than others. It’s foremost on my mind as the daunting milestones of the site’s third anniversary and the 1,000th MCC entry are coming up, less than two months away at my present publishing rate. If I remain stubborn about my topic selections, then the trick will be in reaching the goals without caring whether I arrive with a thriving audience of 500, a close-knit party of fifteen, or just my wife carrying a basket of pity-snacks.

Can I articulate what’s on my mind without worrying whether or not it matters? Can I enjoy writing about the irrelevant? Can I enjoy being irrelevant? And can I do it gracefully?

We’ll see how that goes. Stay literate, my friends.

* * * * *

He once adapted a single joke-tweet into a full-length blog post.

He sometimes writes about things than mean something to him without caring about “hits” or “clicks” or “traffic” or networking or selling books or changing the lives of others or improving his own.

For some reason, after millions of writers and almost-writers have given up and joined the crowds who treat the word “blog” as a cheap punchline, he just. Won’t. Stop. BLOGGING.

He is…The Most Irrelevant Man in the World!

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