Being Pop Culture Ignorant is Not Cool

I once did a presentation at a professional conference about pop culture for librarians. I was prompted to do this presentation after I mentioned Bruno Mars to several people in the profession and they had no idea who he was. This was back when he was first gaining popularity. At the same time, I overheard a phone conversation at the library where a staff member clearly had no idea who Demi Lovato was. When I asked more colleagues about Bruno Mars many were equally unaware of him. Most said they didn’t need to know who he is because they could just Google it if asked. That’s true, but I personally felt that it would be a better customer interaction if you had a basic knowledge of what’s big in popular culture. So, I did a presentation at the conference on pop culture. It was not a great presentation. I planned for a handful of people and an interactive session. 100 people signed up and I was put in a lecture setting. I did not pivot well.

I was reminded of this by two recent posts I saw on social media. First, a post on Twitter that I can no longer find where a person said in effect that it’s dumb to say you’ve never seen X like being culturally ignorant is cool. Then, a friend of Facebook posted something about Olivia Rodrigo and the first comment was someone asking “Who’s that?” I see that all over social media since I follow a lot of people who write about pop culture. People comment on posts about TV, movies, music to make sure that people know that they’ve never watched, listened, or heard of whatever others are talking about. The intent is clearly to show everyone else that they are way too cool to know about these trivial things. I think it shows the opposite. It isn’t cool to be completely unaware of what is popular. You aren’t better than me because I have an Olivia Rodrigo song on my Spotify playlist and you claim you have never heard of her. You aren’t better than me because you’ve never watched TV shows I like.

It is especially not cool to be ignorant of these things if you have kids or work with kids. It’s not cool to be ignorant of these things if you work in a place that sells or loans music and TV. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to do a lot of work to not be unaware of these things. You can spend a few minutes looking at websites that cover pop culture. You can spend one drive to and from work listening to your local pop music station. You can talk to the kids in your life about what they are watching/listening to and ask to watch/listen with them. It’s not that hard.

If you don’t have a personal or professional reason to learn anything about any of this at least do us all a favor and stop acting like it makes you cooler than us that you don’t know anything about current pop culture.


15 thoughts on “Being Pop Culture Ignorant is Not Cool

  1. I know the latest pop artists thanks to my kids and because I work at the library and shelve music cds. But my problem with listening to English music is I don’t always understand the lyrics although I speak the language well. So I end up not listening to English music unless we are going together in the car and a popular radio station is on. I am not cool, just not very interested.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You know I like pop culture….and agree…if you have or work with kids, you should have some frame of reference as to what kids are into. We have a friend with kids around my daughters age…the Dad had absolutely no idea about people we were talking about one day. I wanted to say…do you listen to your kids? Ask them questions?

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  3. I am not up to date on pop culture unless the subject is something that Tom + Lorenzo might cover in their blog. This means that subject has some kind of following. I do ask who someone is when there’s a post about them and I just have no idea what everyone’s talking about. I ask so I can know and look them up to see what it’s all about. I definitely don’t think I’m cool because I don’t know though. I was more current when Jane was still at home, but it’s been at least 25-27 years since then. Sigh.

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  4. I think it’s important to try to stay in touch and be aware of what is going on around us. A knowledge or interest in modern music and pop culture can be helpful with connecting with young people and helps to bridge generation gaps. Yep – not cool to be proud of not being interested!

    Liked by 1 person

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