You might not be the most well-read person in the world. You might not have seen every TV show known to man. You might have missed out on some popular movies over the years. But darnit if there’s one thing you know, it’s that you—and you alone—have the best tastes in the world. Every bit of media you choose to indulge in is superior to what other people read and watch.
Or you’re another type of person completely. You may not watch or read or listen to anything at all, and this is what makes you such an intellectual. Modern media is for the weak of mind, you think. Let the brainwashed public consume and consume, for that is all they are trained to do! Those silly plebeians are throwing away their freedoms by engaging in activities you haven’t personally approved of.
Truth be told, I see a lot of elitism, and I don’t think this is anything new. It is, however, a shame. People stress the importance of reading, then look down on people who don’t read the “right” books. You also have to watch the right TV shows, so stay away from reality TV—heaven forbid anyone engage in mindless entertainment at all, ever. Apparently everything you do much be intellectually stimulating at all times; any mindless fun is completely representative of your character and cognitive abilities.
Sure, it’s true that some things may be more stimulating than others. It’s true that you may learn more by reading about the history of philosophy than you will by reading Twilight. While we’re at it, why not ditch American Idol for some Big Bang Theory? Oh Sheldon, your intelligent antics make me feel better about myself as a socially awkward closeted genius. (I’d be at Harvard right now if only I weren’t so lazy, you know, that’s the only thing holding me back.)
It’s tempting to think that humanity might reach utopia status if only everyone engaged in the same idle pleasures you did. It’s easy to think that people are intellectually inferior or brainwashed and dull because they read or watch things that are popular. It’s fun to think that because you don’t watch TV that you’re better than everyone who does. What an easy way to put yourself above others—you don’t even have to do anything!
Long story short, it’s okay if people like things you don’t. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything about them or their intellectual abilities. You can be an advocate of good education and press the awesome aspects of learning and open-mindedness without turning into the Fun Police. If you think something isn’t worth your time, that’s absolutely fine. But no one person is the arbiter of what is acceptable or not for everyone. That’s the beauty of being so diverse. And while it may be the case that some things are objectively more beneficial, sometimes that really doesn’t matter. Sometimes people want to engage in the occasional fluff, and that’s cool too.
If you’re interested in promoting what you think is good reading or watching material, consider a friendly “Hey, if you like [thing], I might recommend [thing].” Because sharing the wealth is a lot more fun than putting people down to make yourself feel better.