I’ve noticed a tendency in magazine articles (and these days blog posts) when they write about the past. I find that it’s all too commonly presented that we should be embarrassed about things that used to interest us. A couple of examples (forgive the lack of citations, but I’m not trying to call any one or two writers onto the mat here. I’m looking at a trend):
“Back when the Spin Doctors were popular (what were we thinking?)…”
“…and we all went insane over that swing revival…”
Et cetera. This time of year it’s pretty easy to find that sort of chortling at the ignorance of our youth because there are more articles and posts looking back over the year, or the decade, or the century so far.
Once I noticed that, I began catching that people do it on an individual basis too. Not everyone, but some people will act embarrassed when they “admit” things like, “I used to be into death metal,” or “I watched Power Rangers,” or (my personal favorite) “I used to play D&D.”
The losing interest part I understand. We only have so many hours between birth and death, and we should devote our time to things that intrigue us now, not cling to them because they once fascinated us. Goodness knows I’ve abandoned hobbies and interests over the years. For example, I couldn’t tell you when the last time was that I did any woodcarving or listened to Marilyn Manson.
What I don’t get is the embarrassment. The sense that, because one has changed as a person, former interests become the equivalent of broccoli stuck to the teeth of one’s life. That doesn’t make sense to me.
I suspect it has something to do with the cult of newness that forms part of the modern American culture. After all, whole segments of our society would be embarrassed to wear last year’s clothes, use last year’s slang, or listen to last year’s music.
For crying out loud, just run a Google search for the phrase “so five minutes ago.” I just did it and got “about 185,000,000 results.”
If we fixate so on staying “current” with our interests, that means we have to put past interests behind us. And continuing to enjoy something that is no longer popular becomes a faux pas. From there, is it so large a step to being embarrassed by past interests?
That’s just musing on reasons though. Far as I’m concerned, the reasons don’t really matter.
Whoever you are, as you read this, you have grown and changed over the years (and I hope you’ll continue to do so). Everything you’ve done and everything you’ve been into has helped make you who you are. Denying those old activities and interests, or feeling embarrassed about them, devalues their contribution to your evolution.
So with that in mind…
I hereby give you permission to continue liking anything you’ve ever liked. And if you no longer like it, that’s all right too.*
No excuses. No apologies. No shame. That’s what matters.
As part of that, I’d love it if you’d comment below (or elsewhere, but preferably where I’ll see it) on something you used to like and how you feel about it now.
I’ll go first, but I’ll limit myself to three.
Informer, by Snow. I liked that song when it came out. I like it now. I do wish his other songs had been that good though.
The Marvel Superheroes Roleplaying Game. The game balance … wasn’t. The skill system was … interesting. But the game was still a blast, and I would play it again today.
Faster Pussycat. Yes, the band. I have all of their albums (I still think the first two were their best), and no one will ever convince me that they weren’t underrated in the late 80s/early 90s. I’m still shocked that bands like Poison and Warrant could hit big but not Faster Pussycat. Also, those guys kicked ass live. (Oh, that link says they’re still around. I cannot speak to what they’ve done since 1993.)
I went with a second band there because I couldn’t think of a movie or book that anyone would expect me to feel embarrassed that I still like. Rockula, maybe? Simon, King of the Witches? I know. Some people would expect me to be embarrassed about having enjoyed Rogue Warrior. Whatever.
Oh, and I still like some songs from the Spin Doctors. Like this one…