Every year hundreds of things happen in popular culture that you’re supposed to become a fan of immediately — movies, songs, memes, TV shows, etc. If you don’t, you’re seen as being behind-the-times, overly critical or worse… a hipster.
Every once in a while pop culture swarms a subject — like “Star Wars,” Adele’s “25,” hoverboards — and expects everyone to climb aboard. What ever happened to the appreciation of unique interests? Call me old fashioned, but I think bonds of common interests are more exciting when everyone doesn’t share the same interest.
I’m not saying these things aren’t worth the bandwagon they receive. In fact, I love Adele’s “25” and “The Hunger Games” books and movies — these popular items are well deserving of the attention they receive. I am, however, saying that it’s OK to not reach ultimate fandom in order to enjoy something.
It’s OK not to watch all of the “Star Wars” movies before the release of Episode VII. It’s OK not to purchase Adele’s “25” from Target to get the three bonus tracks. It’s OK not to be able to name all of Joey’s love-interests on “Friends.” It’s OK to say you’re a fan of the Thunder and not know every player’s name. It’s OK to not have the same interests as everyone else.
In a world full of amazing things to be a fan of, you shouldn’t have to force yourself to be a fan of anything just because it’s the next big thing. This keeping up with the Joneses mentality can often lead to dissatisfaction and bitterness.
The constant rivalry of fans brews contempt and makes people lose the enjoyment of being a fan. People shouldn’t be made to feel less for not participating in the same fandom as someone else.
It’s OK to like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” or to be Team Peeta or Team Gale.
In an age of near infinite entertainment, you have the most opportunities to find what fits your specific interests more than ever before. The possibilities of self-expression are practically endless and simply require you to find them. This century has brought us streaming and social media — new forms of sharing and learning to break into various niches we never knew existed. More than ever, there is no excuse for simply liking everything everyone else does.
We have the ability to be the most informed and well-rounded individuals we can be by finding what we enjoy despite the cultural waves around us. If you genuinely like the things everyone else enjoys — that’s great. But don’t feel pressured to like things just because they’re popular (I wish someone had told me that it was OK to not own every variation of Silly Bandz when they were popular).
Embrace your ability to have preferences; enjoy things despite their popularity. And remember that it’s OK to be the only one in the theater who’s not wearing “Star Wars” merchandise.