How It Feels to Be An Uncultured Misfit

“Oh my god, you’re so uncultured.”

So begins my soliloquy on my hurt ego and the resulting brain haemmorhage from encoutering such a statement. Mostly when someone throws a poorly disguised insult at you, your first response is to feel a tingling sense of insecurity, and your second response is to immediately rationalize it. And here’s my rationalization: The reason such a statement is annoying to the point of being stupid is because (a) it does indeed hurt people’s sense of identity and self-worth, and (b) it is likely in a very similar line of thinking to which colonialists and conquistadors justify their means. The fabricated Aryan Invasion Theory during the British conquest of India is a good example; people from a certain group feel that their culture and practices are supposedly better than the ones they encounter outside of it, and as such, they feel the need to propagate their own.

Sapiens has an excellent passage on this; Harari talks about “Cultaralism” being a modern-day religion of sorts. As an example, liberalism in his mind is simply another set of ideologies which we have come to believe and accept. Trust and faith in the monetary system is another example, given that a lot of our money exists in digital form and is essentially make-believe. A villager in rural India probably believes that the “finer things in life” involve a wedding with lots of gold exchanged; a middle-class family in any metropolitan city likely believes in the value of a luxurious family vacation; Hollywood stars likely believe that fine-dining experiences and throwing lavish well-documented weddings are the way to experience and enjoy life (I’ve no clue). Food is another excellent example; people shirk at the thought of dogs being eaten in different parts of the world, but fail to realize that chickens, lambs, and pigs have similar if not more emotive feelings — their own specific “cultural” group simply decided to ignore this some time ago. Neither norm is right or wrong per se, but it just seems absurd for each group to try and convince the other on what it means to be “cultured”. It just doesn’t work.

At an even more basic level, this exchange reminds me of a much simpler conversation I had with a friend of mine: She asked me why I couldn’t make time for gym; I asked her why she couldn’t make time to read. We just have different priorities and limited time, and it’s impossible to argue what’s a better way of spending it.

So what’s really the point of this rant? Fuck knows. But if there really is a takeaway, it seems to be that there isn’t a particularly right or wrong “taste” in art, clothes, coffee, or toilet paper; there isn’t a particularly “correct way” of appreciating life — just a matter of which ideology, priority, religion, and culture you happen to have grown up in.

End of rant. Now back to nurturing my bruised ego :):(