I am skeptical of all things, by nature. I humbly submit that maybe we all should be.
Here is my own, non-exhaustive list of cultural phenomena that I feel society has conditioned us to accept as cool — but are, in fact, often problematic when subjected to closer scrutiny.
- Friends who own speed boats
- Driving a gasoline-powered car cross-country
- The Founding Fathers
- Andy Warhol
- Grown men who stay in rock bands after they've had children
- The Sopranos
- Pete Davidson
- Monotheism as an “improvement” over polytheism
- Tipping as a means to compensate underpaid workers
- Belonging to any one particular political party
- Blonde jokes
- Eddie Murphy’s performance in every movie since Harlem Nights (1989)
- U2’s music on every album since All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
- Abstract Expressionism
- Leather jackets
- Horse racing
You may not agree with the inclusion of all of these items. You may think, unlike me, that The Sopranos is the greatest television show ever made. Or that Pete Davidson is funny and talented.
And that is sort of the point. We are all absolutely entitled to our personal opinions. My list is idiosyncratic, informed by my own likes and dislikes.
The challenge is to be sure that our opinions really are our opinions, rather than views imposed on us by peers, by tastemakers, by influencers. The challenge is to resist rejecting anything unequivocally, and to resist accepting anything unconditionally, unless we are confident that we arrived at that conclusion entirely on our own.