As I consider the passions of my real-life and online friends, I notice that they are many and varied: wine drinking, horses (or motorcycles), Star Wars, Doctor Who, organic gardening, NPR, politics, a certain breed of dog, Disney princesses, ’80s music, rodeo, a certain sports team, and so on. They are so all about their “thing” that their friends routinely post related articles and pictures about it on their walls, and they post and talk about it a lot too.
The only subject anyone posts to me about is dogs. Sometimes.
Apparently I am not nearly nerdy enough in that I have no obsessions, no hobbies to speak of, no alter ego identity as a Disney princess or a member of the cast of Star Wars. I am passionate about voting but otherwise try not to get wrapped around the axle about politics. Cosplay strikes me as categorical evidence of arrested development (ditto dedicated video gaming and fantasy sports leagues). I am not interested in anything having to do with vampires, werewolves, zombies, Middle Earth, or any kind of science fiction. I consider characters in movies, television shows and popular books to be fictional and therefore have no desire to emulate or idolize them. I actually don’t watch television at all. I don’t hang out in online chat rooms or forums, although I probably spend too much time cruising through memebase when I’m bored. I am not a devotee of any particular brand of anything– Fords and Chevys are pretty much all the same to me, just like Macs and PCs. I don’t watch or follow any sport or team or play sports or games. I am not interested in celebrity gossip so don’t read the tabloids or visit the gossip sites. I do visit a host of mainstream media sites daily–ABC, CNN, MSN, NBC, NY Times, Slate, etc.–so I have a smattering of knowledge about all these things, but don’t take the time to pursue them beyond scanning the headlines. Oh yeah: I also don’t smoke, do drugs or dance because that’s just how much fun I am.
Sheesh, when I write it all out, I sound so very boring! 😛
The fact is, my focus is on trying, every day, simply to live an authentic life, and that mostly means taking care of whatever is right in front of me right now. I’m not interested in spending time thinking about or dealing with pretend worlds or pretend people or pretend emotions or pretend controversies.
I want to deal with what is real and true, which I know sounds kind of dorky, but really, how much of what you deal with every day is real? Squabbling with a stranger on Facebook about whether or not Glenn Beck is a misogynist (to pick a random example) is not how I want to spend my time because to me, neither the stranger nor Glenn Beck is real in my world. For the same reason, I don’t want to mindlessly consume prepackaged entertainment and relentless commercialism in front of the television for hours a day; fill my head with detailed, arcane knowledge of fantasy worlds in other galaxies; or learn all the cheat codes that will help me rescue the princess (or whatever; I don’t play video games either, obviously).
So you might wonder, what do I do with my spare time–sit and stare at the wall in a silent house with all the shades drawn?
No, I never do that. I keep the shades open all day. 😉
I read the news in print and online, of course, and I read several different magazines (mostly news) and well as books about all kinds of things (right now I am reading Cloud Atlas and How to Know God on alternating days). I write blog posts about the things I think about. I take really good care of my house, my yard and my dogs, and taking care of the dogs means not only daily walks around the ‘hood but also frequent trips to the river, the park, and other interesting places. I talk to (and email, text and Facebook) my family, friends and neighbors. I cook because I like to eat. I take copious photographs and experiment with Photoshop. I am taking an online course in web development. I go to the gym (although not nearly as often as I should). And let me tell you what, my days are just packed. It’s hard to fit everything in!
I am a thoroughgoing generalist: I have lots of different interests but no passions or fixations or fetishes, and I want to keep it that way because I prefer to be flexible and multifaceted rather than just “that woman who likes Schnauzers” or whatever. My various interests include but are not limited to art, vernacular residential architecture, antiques (especially typewriters and cameras), dogs (well, of course), bicycling, cooking, eating, blogging, photography, travel, letterpress printing, fine pens (and all other writing instruments), stationery, grammar and language, writing, graphic design, biographies and historical literature, home keeping, journalism and current events, metaphysics, psychology, life hacking, health and nutrition, web technology and social media, and general trivia. I absolutely kill at Trivial Pursuit.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a dedicated fan of a team or game or a brand or a movie or whatever, but if you arrange your social calendar, your circle of friends, and your eating/sleeping/work schedule around the latest Twilight movie or Halo release or television schedule, well, you and I just don’t have much in common.
People whose lives are organized around one or two external things that define who they are and what is important to them to all comers at a glance (“Steelers fan,” “Harley owner,” “goth girl,” etc.) probably do not wrestle with a flickering identity day to day–they know who they are because they know what they like, and their particular fixation gives their lives order and meaning without their having to work too hard for it. My identity shifts and separates and reforms every single day, and I am forever tugging at its edges trying to get it to neatly cohere. I can be so many different things that it’s impossible to choose just one. So I guess I will never be a nerd. Tsk.