Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Let My Dog Chew on My Shoes So You Don’t Have To, Or, the Absurdity of Non-Experience

Slate, the Gawker family of sites, and a few other outlets are big on publishing the type of article that starts out, “I [insert random activity here] So You Don’t Have To.” The author often undertakes some onerous task, such as reading a celebrity autobiography (possibly in a meta way, if Bethenny Frankel is involved), viewing a highly-unanticipated television show or film, or sampling the latest trendy food. Sometimes a new, questionable beauty treatment is involved.

While I don’t object to these articles in full--they do, after all, fulfill a purpose in the form of a review--I do think it’s odd that so many media types find it necessary to blatantly judge a product. Sometimes, it seems as though the writer is saying, “I am a gatekeeper and these are the reasons why.” Gatekeeping is, however, something that contributes to a lack of interpersonal understanding and, frankly, elitism.

I’m not the type of person to seek out, say, the complete works of Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. Although she has certainly grown as a person over the past few years, I don’t find her appealing at all, and therefore I have no desire to read her books. By the same token, I don’t need anyone summarizing her output for me. This isn’t elementary school, and no book reports are necessary.

Similarly, if a consumer has a secret soft spot for beauty advice from the Kardashians, she doesn’t need some “tastemaker” who has never met her judging her from a distance for purchasing an eyeshadow palette from Kardashian Beauty.

There are some non-experiences we should appreciate: refraining from murder, human trafficking, or starting up a meth lab, for example. These, however, we can learn from fictional works and serious journalism rather than from snooty people who think their tastes are highbrow.

And for the record, while I may have let my dog chew on my shoes (she quite enjoyed them) for the sake of saving my mother’s shoes from the ravages of puppy teeth, I think everyone can more or less figure out for themselves what is good or bad. Give us a little credit.


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