Friday, September 3, 2010


No surprise here but in the six months I've had my Kindle, I hear the occasional argument of "Oh, well, I read real books," as though there is an intellectual preference to do so. You and I might both read Anna Karenina, in other words, but since you read a "real" book and I read it on my Kindle, somehow, your experience is superior to mine.

This sort of thing has to stop. Unless Tolstoy intended for you to be taken by the sheer weight of the volume (dear lord, it is a bit long, no?), who cares how you read it? And fine, you read a "real" book. Let me go find someone who read a "real" copy of the book. In Cyrillic. Then, where are you, huh?

The point is nowadays we all have different ways of consuming media. Is one so far superior to another?

This is hardly a new issue. I spent many a day in high school in ridiculous conversations that went like this:

Some guy: What are you listening to?

Me: Smashing Pumpkins.

Some guy: What album?

Me: Siamese Dream.

Some guy: Oh. I won't even listen to anything they did after Gish. That was when they were for real.

Dude, whatever. At least that's what I should have said at the time. Or "Gee, thanks for wowing me with your clearly superior taste in music and well-reasoned fandom of The Smashing Pumpkins."

I remember conversations where people were basically told they were some sort of lesser fan because they hadn't been there from some ambiguous point back-in-the-day.

Sports is the same way. The first question I get about half the time when I tell people I'm a Yankees fan is "since when?" They assume I'm just on the bandwagon. When I respond with "Long enough to have seen Mike Pagliarulo play in person," they seem to get the picture. But again, why the attempt to lessen my fandom?

Why do some people have a desire to be superior for some nebulous reason? I chalk it up to good old-fashioned American insecurity. Maybe it's some sort of carryover from the long trend of the "New World" trying to prove itself as culturally equal to Old World standbys. One would think years of literature, cultural influence and a few major wars would've taken care of that.

Yet here we are. Each of us trying to one-up someone else for some imaginary crown.

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