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Dear Culture: We’re Breaking Up

I’ve just realized there is no part of this culture that I can embrace anymore.

As a writer, our culture, the collection of millions of people who surround me, is ever so important. And I’m not hipster enough to be counter-culture. I want to write books that everyone likes and everyone buys. But I’ve realized my writing is never going to appeal to the masses.

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Photo by jscreationzs from freedigitalphotos.net

What does appeal to the masses?

Fifty Shades of Grey, Donald Trump, Mountain Dew, Bernie Sanders, Marvel Comic sequels, remakes, and reboots, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, hating on Miley Cyrus and Kanye West, club songs, recreational marijuana, Pewdipie, and every one of the 25 Fast and Furious movies.

Do not get me wrong. All of those aforementioned things can be enjoyable. But they are all, as Jim Gaffigan would say, McDonald’s. And our culture has gone from indulging occasionally on guilty pleasures, with a kind of self-deprecating self-awareness, to living by them.

For goodness sake, the human race came up with language, learned how to hunt, gather, then farm, then build. We discovered electricity, split the atom, and traveled to the moon. The classic authors like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Friedrich Nietzsche (not to mention Socrates, Plato et al) plumbed the depth of human consciousness, relationships, religion, and politics. We overcame the darkness of fascism, communism, racism, and slavery. We created a country where serfdom disappeared under the brilliant light of a free market and a government bound by the constitution.

And today, our attention cannot be drawn long enough from Candy Crush Saga, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram─or whatever other sort of godless time-sink that has inhaled the zombified masses─to notice that we’re about to lose everything. We’re excited about the guy who’s gonna build a wall and the guy who’s gonna give us free college. Because…hey…stuff is neat. Walls are neat, and it’ll keep out those Mexicans, and we’ll have more jobs. And free college is great, because we always value stuff when it’s “free,” don’t we? Hamburgers, french fries, chocolate shakes! This is McDonald’s, people.

When your entire life is about getting stuff, that is absolutely all you’re going to get. Stuff.

Self-sacrifice, hard work, patience, kindness, love, thoughtfulness, wisdom, and deep, lasting joy─these things you’ll never know. You cannot recognize them now, and you never will.

I’m not the smartest or wisest person that walks the earth. But it appears that success today is measured by how much fat, sodium, and sugar you can squeeze into a product, all flash, a lot of lies (as long as you’re the first to tell it), and no substance.

Which is why I’m breaking up with this culture. Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean I’ll start doing douchebaggery hipster stuff and gentrificate my sweet little diamond-in-the-rock-town or ever, ever wear turtlenecks. But, Culture, I’m leaving you behind.