Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Liking Things

I was familiar with "basic" as an insult for both people and items before I really understood what it meant.  Uggs, scarves, and pumpkin spice lattes all get called out as basic, as do people, particularly women, who enjoy them.  For all intents and purposes, "basic" applied to an item means a lot of people like that thing, and applied to a person, it means they like things a lot of other people like.

That's correct: "basic" is an insult that means, "You like things that are popular."

Hipster is another word generally used as an insult.  Here's a joke by way of illustration: How did the hipster burn his mouth?  He drank his soup before it was cool.

Hipsters like things that few other people like; they like things that aren't popular.

Take away from this that regardless of what you like, lots of people out there are happy to judge you for liking it.  Popular things?  Obscure things?  If you like anything, there's an insult waiting for you.

There's more!  There are also ways to like things that are less acceptable to the world in general than other ways of liking things.  Take, for example, teenage girls enjoying music.  They're derided for just liking how cute the boys in the band are and not understanding "good" music.  They're mocked for screaming, making posters, and decorating their bedrooms as shrines.

In fact, the behaviors associated with teenage girls liking things are so universally disdained that anyone liking anything exuberantly is mocked as "being a fangirl."  In case it's not clear that fangirl is also an insult, go ahead and do a quick google search.  I'll wait.

The safest way to like things is ironically: people pretend to like things, or they pretend that they're pretending, or they pretend that they're pretending that they're pretending until even they aren't sure what they legitimately like anymore.

Here's the thing, though, if there's nothing that's safe to actually like, and liking anything too much isn't safe either, all that's left is cynicism and boredom.  I reject cynicism and boredom as a cultural aspirations.  I challenge the narrative that liking things is bad.  In fact, I choose to embrace Liking Things as inherently positive.

I am all for liking Uggs, scarves, and pumpkin spice lattes.  I commend liking DIY Frankenstein bicycles and indie rock bands.  If you like a book, I am glad you like it, be it Twilight, Moby Dick, or Guide to Computer Forensics and Investigations.  If you like a movie or movies in general; if you like making art or looking at it; if you like birding or fishing; if you like tatting, online video games, archery, or all three; if you like anything or things at all, good for you.  Liking things is wonderful, and I think we should all do more of it.

Enough irony.  Go out and enjoy some things.

Hey, what do you like right now?


  1. I did the google search, I mostly saw a lot about a book, "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell.

    I personally like a lot of things inlcuing but not limited to: delicious food, spending time with people that are stupid with me, and shooting stuff.

    1. Hmmm... I see your point. How about this, then: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fangirl