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.