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You’re never gonna understand what you’re seeing
But later you’ll pretend you can and you’ll mean it
You might think it’s all in your head but you’re not certain anymore
You might think it’s all in your head but you’re not certain anymore

I wouldn’t put much talk in that ’cause the fact is
It doesn’t matter what you ask, it’s who you’re asking
Well I’d say go throw it away if it’s not working anymore
Well I’d say go throw it away if it’s not working anymore

I promise this is not a test, it’s just I want you to be sure
It all comes back to common sense, I guess that’s what you’re looking for
I’ll have to ask you to speak up so we’re sure that
We’re all perfectly clear on what we’re ignoring
Well I’d say go throw it away if it’s not working anymore
Well I’d say go throw it away if it’s not working anymore

– “Lethal Enforcer”, We Are Scientists

It started with something as simple as an insignificant chain letter on Facebook. I hate them, but in the past week I felt obliged to complete two.

The first was about turning on your music player (iTunes, Windows Media, etc.) and pressing random and writing down the song that came up for a list of questions. Apparently some genius has decided that the randomness of your playlist will reveal deep meaning revelations about you. A sample:

18. What is your biggest fear??

Science – Paul Weller

I think pretty much anything would have made a punchline, but the fact that it had to be that song made me chuckle. No, I am not afraid of science, but if there was to be a random thing chosen that is certainly a funny one. Maybe I am really afraid of Paul Weller. They do call him The Modfather.

Did that reveal anything about myself that I wouldn’t have known or said? Not really. Another sample to show the absurdity of the exercise:

9. What do you think about very often?

Weather Channel Music – Ben Folds

Clearly.

The point of all of this is to show a bit of someone’s personality through the ridiculous answers and probably more obviously through the variety of their playlists. I am fairly proud to say that along with artists that I normally state as my favourites (Damien Rice, Manic Street Preachers, the Beatles) appearing on my list were some more obscure choices that others may not have otherwise known I listen to (Chairlift or Sara Bareilles).  Did this reveal a ton about me? Probably not.

That’s where the second list comes in. Circulating around the digital community is a note called “25 things”. It’s pretty basic. You write twenty-five facts, statements, etc. about yourself that your friends may or may not have already known.

Eschewing the normal chain letter protocol (I refuse to “tag” 25 friends, obligating them to do it, rather sending it to a couple people who may or may not care) I wrote my twenty-five things.

Rather than the randomness of the previous exercise, where your fate is left to the capricious nature of iTunes, this is entirely self-led. Twenty-five things about yourself that you choose to reveal to your friends.

Where people might actually have read the music note and assumed that because “Garbage” (by Chairlift) arrived at the question: “What is your life’s purpose?” that my life’s purpose is garbage, this note was entirely in my control. (As a sidenote, I’d like to think that my life’s purpose is far beyond garbage. Cool song, though).

I revealed things about my favourite interests (cartography, trivial knowledge, board games) that caused absolutely no fuss until I made the ultimate slip-up of making a statement of things that I wouldn’t like. Every single other item on my list is positive and the one thing I said I wasn’t interested in my friends pounced on me:

11.James Joyce wrote one of my favourite books: Dubliners. He also wrote one of the most grueling reads (and personal least favourite book) ever: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I feel no ill-will to him for it, though.

12. There are obviously books out there that I would hate more than A Portrait, but I consciously choose which books I read. I’ve never read Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling. I don’t care if they’re your favourites, I’ll never read them.

I now know never to mess with Harry Potter fans. First, let me say that I’ve never made any value judgments about the franchise or anything else negative about it. I just said that I will never read them because I know I wouldn’t like them at all. That’s not to say I don’t care for the genre (I’ve read Narnia and Lord of the Rings) or that I am deliberately trying to be a contrarian. I just know that I wouldn’t enjoy them.

One of my friends went so far as to call me “ignorant” for that (we reconciled that, as he’s aware I’m not an ignorant individual, but occasionally suffer from foot in mouth). I don’t think it’s ignorance to express an opinion that you wouldn’t care for something based on a limited exposure (I’ve actually seen a couple of the movies and I’ve read a couple pages, which, without dramatizing it, did, in fact, give me a headache).

The point is, this isn’t the same as saying you wouldn’t like a certain food without knowing anything about it. It’s more like saying I wouldn’t care for a keg of a certain type of beer based on the sample I tried at the liquor store. If the taste doesn’t agree with you, are you forced into drinking it?

I’d like to say that I am a pretty open-minded person and I am willing to try new things, but when it comes to books there are a stack of other books that deserve my attention just as much as the works of Ms. Rowling. Given the choice, I’d choose the other books first. I only have a limited amount of free time to read as it is, so I actually do try to select wisely which ones I read, lest I am stuck reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for three years (which is how long it took me, off-and-on). The reality is that I’ve never been able to stop reading a book once I’ve started it. So I’d better pick something that won’t give me a headache.

The better comment came from another friend who said that to use Dan Brown in the same sentence as J.K. Rowling was blasphemous. That made me laugh. Does that make my other friend ignorant too? Strangely enough, no one jumped in to defend Mr. Brown.

The point is that regardless of your personal favourites, they are yours and rightly so. I take nothing away from that. I don’t feel the need to justify why Manic Street Preachers are my favourite band, why my favourite meal is lasagna, or why The Life Aquatic is my favourite movie. Some people might agree, many may not.
It just seems strange that when you openly reveal things about yourself you open yourself to attacks from people who feel as if they have a vested interest in your answer. No one came to my defense when my life’s purpose was “Garbage”. I guess it’s different when iTunes picks the answer.

Oh, and on a final note, when I release my new music reviews every Tuesday, they’re just my opinions, based on my experiences (often after hearing an album once or twice), and my feelings are never hurt if you don’t like them. Not everyone will like every album, that’s one of the reasons why I have the category “If you like this, you may like…”

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3 thoughts on “But it’s MY opinion, that’s the point…

  1. “I only have a limited amount of free time to read as it is, so I actually do try to select wisely which ones I read”

    That about covers it. I don’t have some fantastic literary example from my own life because reading for class burns me out on reading for pleasure, so I will stay in the realm of comedy and television. I have grown weary of the number of people who think they’re doing me some huge comedic favour by telling me about how hilarious How I Met Your Mother is. Sure Neil Patrick Harris is funny in it, but the show is no better than King of Queens ever was. Why am I going to watch every episode when shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia exists? The same goes for watching stand-up from Pablo Francisco (he’s alright) and Katt Williams (he’s abysmal.)

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