Sep 21, 2009

[rant] Fitting in and Pretentiousness, and Music too

I decided to sort of categorize what posts will consist of so you can ignore posts as you wish. Like this one.

One thing that I have come across in my reading/web browsing/recent discussions is about fitting in. There are two links I would like to share. while both are about Apple products, that is just because they are the focus of the two writings.

Topic one is about someone who got his stuff stolen: specifically an ipod nano.

The other one is from a website where a guy would send in fake qualification letters to companies. They are really hilarious, but most there is one point that I would really like to focus on:

Click THIS to read the specific letter and THIS for the home site. I'll also paste the part that stands out to me here:

"Now I'm twenty four, and I make my money the way I make my money. A large part of that is you. A pair of good headphones could always catch you a few bucks, but some idiot out with a two hundred dollar set was as good as it got. Now it's all changed. Now you can't walk downtown without passing twenty or thirty people, all sporting the little white headphones, advertising that they're packing a five hundred dollar piece of equipment in those pockets. You got billboards all over the place, making that shit into fashion. It's better than a goddamn gold ring, and when they get rolled, the motherfuckers are out the next day buying a replacement so they can still fit in."

Yay ghetto indentation. Which is also a social niche.

While it is satirical, it is also incredibly true. People will do anything to fit into their chosen social niches, even if they don't realize why they're trying to do it, and while they're doing that, they are excluding others. This is perfectly normal. We want to be with similar-minded people who have the same ideas or likes/dislikes. It's just that in doing so anyone who doesn't agree with the same ideas are considered "misfits", or "them", or even worse, "singers".

An example of this is Jeph. Jeph Jaques is a web comic writer/drawer who makes a very entertaining web comic called Questionable Content which I read regularly. While I really enjoy his comic, I disagree with everything he stands for socially. For example, he dislikes Orson Scott Card. Not because of his writing skills or lack thereof. Not because of his influence in the science fiction community, but simply because he does not support gays or gay marriage. Now, I assume Jeph is a libral because of his support of gay marriage and because he really really dislikes Rush. The Rush thing is another thing I'll explore in this post or maybe later. Anyways, liberals are supposedly the "politically correct non-offensive people". I find this ridiculous because he just alienated a bunch of his readers as well as other people.

Another interesting hypocrisy of his is his complaining of DRM and so on while he also complains about a t-shirt company stealing his design. Seriously dude, chose a side already.

I find it interesting most people don't even realize they're angering or doing thing to fit into a group. I see bunches of people walking in groups of friends. I don't mind this in the least and think it's fine, but I also wonder what would happen if no one really ended up being close friends with other people. Once people find a group of friends, they tend to stick with the group, they'll never leave or invite other people to come because then their group will be "less special" or something similar.

This also leads into the pretentiousness bit. People who want to fit into a group but can't call that group pretentious. To clear things up, here is an exact definition of the word:

As found on Webster's dictionary site:
  • Main Entry: pre·ten·tious
  • Pronunciation: \pri-ˈten(t)-shəs\
  • Function: adjective
  • Etymology: French prétentieux, from prétention pretension, from Medieval Latin pretention-, pretentio, from Latin praetendere
  • Date: 1832

1 : characterized by pretension: as a : making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing) pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him — Richard Watts> b : expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature <pretentious language> <pretentious houses>
2 : making demands on one's skill, ability, or means : ambitious pretentious daring of the Green Mountain Boys in crossing the lake — American Guide Series: Vermont>

synonyms see showy

pre·ten·tious·ly adverb

pre·ten·tious·ness noun

There are two things about this word I realize:
1) Anyone can use this to label anyone else and feel completely justified in doing so.
2) It makes people who use this word sound intelligent.

Examples of music and things people find pretentious:
High Art (both musical and pictures):

Dream Theater. John Pretrucci is not pretentious. He's an amazingly musical guitarist who can also play quickly. While I find his later music (read: newest album) boring, I don't think his skill or his musical ideas as pretentious. I enjoy his music and anyone who doesn't think so can freely disagree with me. Just do use "Dream Theater is pretentious" as an excuse of saying "I don't really know why I just don't stop yelling at me!"

Another use: Animal Collective. Their music is hard to listen to, but if you just want to enjoy music their perfectly fine group. I enjoy bouncing around to the happy Avey melodies, and dislike other songs of theirs for my own reasons. Just because they take their music seriously and want to produce 'good music' (in their opinion) doesn't make them pretntious. Just relax and enjoy. If you see them live they're having as good as a time as anyone listening and it shows in their music and in their performances.

Basically, people please stop using it as an escape to justify your position.

I feel like this post could be better organized but I don't have much time to write.

Also my stuff should arrive tomorrow. Yay!

My next post will either be about computer geekery or music or both.

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