I’m of the opinion that there is very little in this world that is without merit, that there is a time or place for all things. In my experience people are quick to dismiss entire genres or categories of things in life be it food, music, television, hobbies or cultures without even understanding what they’re giving up on. For example, I love a great steak. Not a whole lot in life is better than a warm, bloody hunk of cow flesh and the higher the quality the better. So, that must mean that I eat filet mignon every day, right? Absolutely not! And it isn’t just because I can’t afford to, it’s also because there are other foods that I can enjoy. Take for example, a nasty fast food burger, just because one is high class and one is low brow doesn’t mean that either is without it’s time and place. Steak for when you’re feeling fancy, greasy McDonalds hamburger for when you’re drunk and lazy. I know it’s sort of a goofy example, but I’ve gotten a similar feeling of satisfaction from both just depending on the circumstances.
When I was younger in my naiveté I would say things like, “I hate country music,” Or the old stand-by, “rap isn’t music,” but as I’ve aged it’s become clearer to me that it’s too hyperbolic to dismiss such massive expanses of music off hand. Sure, I’m not likely to be able to listen to an hour of a country radio station without going brain dead but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few songs that I enjoy. In that case I was using a small sample size to determine my opinion on a super massive genre of music. As for rap, when I was espousing the opinion that “rap is crap” or “rap isn’t music” it just happened that I hadn’t ever really listened to any rap and I was just parroting opinions of others that I had heard, trying to sound informed on something that was in fact a blind spot for me.
I’m not sure how it happened but at some point in my life I caught myself reversing my unfounded opinions on things like music. Where previously I had baselessly claimed to hate something I now found myself enjoying it. It was around that time that I realized that what I had been doing was childish or at the least immature. It sounds obvious but one should have a basis of knowledge on something before forming an opinion but as I looked in on myself and out at the people around me I realized people do this all the time. I would wager that if you did the same you might come up with the same result. You might notice somebody saying that video games are for kids, and you’re wasting your time or maybe you’ll hear a person spouting hate at fast food asking why you would ever waste your money when you could have gotten something better. Who are any of us to criticize the enjoyment of others?
I know I’ve touched on some of these same points in my article “Escaping Escapism” a few weeks back, but I’d like to expand the narrative. If the problem of dismissing what others do stopped at food and fun that would be one thing but the nasty habit of dismissal before education goes further. I find that people would rather just write off other cultures as being odd, primitive, or just flat out wrong. Some do the same for communities like LGBTQ, or movements like Black Lives Matter. So, we go beyond a simple and almost amusing argument over hobbies to uninformed culture wars. When one side knows nothing of the other, how can a resolution be reached? Each side just ends up digging in their heels, becoming pig headed without even realizing that they don’t even know what the argument is.
In my mind, it all comes down to introspection. We are afraid to look inward and find ourselves flawed. We all want to be the heroes and if we find that we’ve been fundamentally wrong all along, aren’t we the villains? Well, not really, not in my mind anyway. Finding the flaws is okay, correcting them is what makes us the good guys. It is so important to think about what you’re doing, to check your beliefs and to make an earnest effort to learn before you form hard opinions. We have the habit of getting entrenched in those opinions once they are formed and if they are based in ignorance it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll eventually come to regret it. So, look inward, never be afraid to change your thoughts on a subject that you find are outdated because in this world there is a place for everything and very little is without merit. Don’t let yourself become victim to the philosophy of being uninformed, be the hero of your story.