Re: Faking Cultural Literacy

Karl Taro Greenfeld boldly wrote in The New York Times about a phenomenon where people, including himself, pretend to be culturally literate despite not fully understanding what they’re talking about.

People formulate opinions on books, films, articles, trends, etc. that they never read or saw. How do they fake their way through understanding it? They get the condensed version on Twitter, read the TLDR in the comment section, or copy someone else’s opinion on the matter. Who’s opinion? It varies but likely someone with Internet popularity.

It’s not hard to think of some reasons as to why people do these things. Some people want to be considered knowledgeable or intelligent by their peers, even if what they’re doing completely undermines that perception. Others, perhaps, just want something to talk about during those awkward moments with acquaintances in elevators or hallways.

Why not just read the book or see the film? People are busy, I guess. Though they’re apparently not too busy to write comments on Facebook, read summaries on Wikipedia, or Tweet about their lives. Behavior such as this could deter people from experiencing culture or gaining any knowledge to formulate real opinions on topics.

There is no award for reading a book, but there is the self-satisfaction of appearing intelligent to your peers. That’s why, perhaps, Capital In The 21st Century , a 600 page book by economist Thomas Piketty sold out on Amazon a few weeks back. I doubt all of these busy people sat down and read the book cover to cover, but they enjoy having it displayed in mint condition on their living room bookshelves. Maybe then their also bogus peers can exchange other people’s opinions they read on Twitter back and forth between themselves.

I might of sounded a little harsh, but bogus-ness really grinds my gears.

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About Nazzy

Watching the world and writing about it on occasion.
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