Saturday, July 30, 2011

On being awkward, pre-internet.

As I was watching the VidCon stream an hour ago, listening to George Watsky talk about not momentarily crowd-surfing at a Sum41 concert sometime in 2003, and how the internet has provided hundreds of thousands of awkward nerds with access to a brilliant and thriving creative community, in which he could finally crowd-surf with no feelings of self-consciousness, I started thinking. About what it would be like to be an awkward nerd in 2003, or 1963, or any period in time that isn't the very near past, and how fortunate I am to be living right now.

It's no secret that everyone is awkward for at least some of their adolescence (or the majority of it), and presumably this has been going on since virtually the beginning of time. Speaking as the person I am (i.e, maybe I'm exaggerating but this is only because I can't imagine myself with the influence of the internet removed), I don't know how I'd be progressing through my (increasingly) awkward years if I were 16 in 1963.

Because I enjoy the mid 20th century like other people might enjoy golfing or fantasy novels, I'd like to think I know enough about 1963 to accurately place myself in it. Most of America was still pretty damn racist, and the women's rights/gay rights/hippie movement wasn't in full force yet. Maybe my parents would have raised me so that my personality would be different, but mostly I'm picturing a lot of time spent at libraries and record stores and with adults scolding me for not being overtly feminine. And it's not exactly my idea of a good time. I'd definitely be protesting like hell as a legal adult in the latter half of the decade, but the requisite awkward years seem just that, awkward.

I realize I would probably attach myself to whatever subculture presented itself to me--beatniks most likely. But that's just that: a subculture. A(n admittedly close-knit) group of people, looked down upon by the majority so that they feel compelled to isolate themselves into small minority groups instead of demanding acceptance by the general public. Whereas now, via the internet and whatever else has made nerds bolder over the years, we can demand that acceptance. I can publicly declare my love of Harry Potter and Doctor Who and old bands and fattening food and liberal politics and so forth. I could tell you I'm naked right now. (Which, for the sake of accuracy, I am not currently. But I could be and that's what counts.)

**Note: I subscribe(d) to a particularly romanticized version of the years 1950 through about 1979, the earlier half heavily shaped by Grease and the general old-timey rock'n'rollness about the era. As a twelve year old who thought she was cool for liking non-contemporary music, I even repeatedly expressed my desire to be alive then. I am officially (as officially as a blog post can be) taking that back for reasons mentioned above. Also because that's kind of hipstery and pretentious, but, live and learn, what can you do.**

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