Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Laws Of Average

Lately I keep wondering how different my adolescence would have been if the internet had been around when I was a teenager back in the 1980's.

I'm sure kids today feel just as alienated as any other socially awkward young adult. But I keep thinking... wow, when I was between the ages of 13 and 17 I felt like such an anomaly. And again, of course every teenager probably thinks this way, just being the dramatic, solipsistic creatures that they inherently are. But I remember feeling so isolated by my interests, as in none of the other girls I hung out with enjoyed LARPing, or even considered to do anything so geeky. Or have any other interest in music other than the latest Lionel Richie song on the radio. And I didn't dare reveal my desperately lonely, obsessive preoccupation with a comic book character that still deeply affects me to this day. And there really was no way for me to reach out to people who may have had any similar interests at that time. Well for one, I was chronically shy, too shy to approach most people who looked as if they may have had something in common with me. And I grew up in a small town where deviating from the status quo wasn't exactly encouraged by either my parents or my peers. I had so few friends as it was, I wasn't about to make any more waves than necessary to lose what I already had, or else become an even bigger social misfit than I already felt.

My God. If I had the internet back then. My life might have been... so different.

Now I meet people every day who have my similar interests in music. And every little sub-fringe category of interest that I thought only I had ever thunk up has its own message board, its own newsgroup, hell, even its own national convention. It's a remarkable concept. I can now google my comic book character and find a dozen or so links about him, and I remember how the first time nearly brought me to tears. What would my life had been like, had I had something like this to remind me that I wasn't a complete and total freak for liking the things that I did? I can't tell you how... normal it all made me feel.

Normal. So much so, that I really started to begin to realize just how... average I really am. I hang out on music/movie message boards with people far more learned on the subjects that have always interested me, and I have now have had a myspace page for almost a full year, I think. So many people. Millions, all over the world. With almost identical profiles to my own. And as exciting as it all is, it's also a little, uh, daunting. Intimidating, even. Because now, in context of the world wide web, I finally do fit in with the crowd. So much so, in fact, that I disappear into the vast sea of similarity.

Myspace really exacerbates this point more so than any other example I can think of at the moment. I look at my profile and I think, other than the bazillion friend requests from bands I get each day looking to network off my page, what does somebody like myself really have to offer anyone in order for me to validate my presence clogging up all that valuable the meg space? (this probably also goes for my blog as well) More than ever I realize how truly average somebody like myself can be. I am an average woman -- average looks, average brain, average personality, with average interests and an average amount of knowledge in the things that I enjoy and the average amount of experience that I've accrued in life. In short, I'm pretty much okay. But you know... average. Just average.

And finally, after all these years, I think I'm okay with that. It's kind of a nice feeling, in some ways. No pressure to conform. No pressure to impress. None of the stigma that haunted me as a teenager in the pre-web 1980's.

Do kids today still feel that way, I wonder.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this time you had a myspace page?? Where does 1 find this?

12:45 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I don't really do much with it, to be honest. My blog here is far more personal, while my blog there is mostly reposts from here that are slightly more music/movie related.

I originally signed up so that I could subscribe to a certain music critic's blog, but over time I've managed to track down quite a few old friends from the local music scene that I've lost track of, and even made a few pretty cool new ones as well.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Anita said...

>>Or have any other interest in music other than the latest Lionel Richie song on the radio.<<

Now see, in my time you were an anamoly if you liked Lionel Ritchie. I guess by the early 90's he was considered "old people music" [well, I guess elementary and middle school kids would call it that]. While everybody was listening to grunge and rap, I was lisetening to my "at work easy listening station".

5:58 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

The funny thing is that Richie is making a comeback with his recent single, which is fairly pleasant and doesn't even sound like Richie at first listen -- although I don't know what the rest of the album sounds like.

Richie circa 1980's probably embodies Sontag's definition of "camp" in context of the 90's and the 00's more than a lot of other Top 40 artists that came out of that era. But I tried to use him as an example of the people I knew who only obediently listened to whatever was being fed to them on the radio at the time, with no curiosity about what else could be out there whatsoever.

6:16 PM  

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