I think today’s irony ends up saying: “How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean.” – David Foster Wallace
When I was 16, I started my first blog. It no longer exists, thank God, but it was, as all things were at 16, about me. It was about the times I was sad, when I was jilted, when I was angry. Sometimes it was about things I loved, but not that often. When I was 17, I decided that being personal wasn’t the way to go. I started a new blog and resolved not to post anything too intimate. It was no one’s business how I felt, what I loved, whatever. Plus, I had an image to maintain. It wasn’t a particularly cool image, but it was carefully curated, glazed in protective irony and topped off with a healthy dollop of snobbery toward anyone who disagreed with me on anything–music, movies, snack cakes, etc.
Fast-forward 12 years, and a part of me is still that self-protecting 17-year-old. I’m not cool–never will be, really, and at least I realize that now–but my natural reaction is still, when someone gets too close, to deflect. To go on the offensive when something I care about is dismissed. At the same time, there’s still a tendency to distance myself from things I like if they contradict the image I want to present. I can’t just like Taylor Swift; I have to “like” Taylor Swift. I can’t just rock out to We’re Not Gonna Take it; I have to “rock out” to We’re Not Gonna Take It. And so it goes.
Juvenile? Yeah. Silly? Of course. But this is how it is: we’re told to love what it’s ok to love, and “love” everything else. Even with the things we really do care about, we must be wary of caring for them too much; we must keep them at arm’s length, at least in public. Keeping it real has been replaced with keeping it “real”.