The Unpopular Opinion: Pop Culture Is Just Adult Homework

Adele Miner on the curious FOMO that comes with trying to keep up with all entertainment has to offer.


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How many times have you watched Bridgerton now? What’s your favourite song on Taylor Swift’s ‘Evermore’? Have you seen today’s Twitterstorm? Just once, I don’t know – I haven’t listened to it in full yet, and no, are my answers.

You know that sinking feeling you used to get in school when you forgot to do your homework? And you would scramble around in your school bag pretending to look for it, you head working overtime preparing an excuse for when the teacher approached you. That’s what pop culture is for adults – homework. And losing track of it feels much more distressing than missing an algebra assignment.

Always met with a smug ‘what rock have you been living under?!’ when you admit your ignorance, it’s usually easier to smile and nod along. Pop culture presents itself as something fun and airy, a great way to pass the time! Sure what else would you be at?! And yes, it is those things, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard work, it can be overwhelming and exhausting, here’s why.


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You’d think the trend of digital detoxes would alleviate some of the pressure, but in fact, it only adds to another layer of stress. Taking time away from your phone only means that when you do return to it (and we all inevitably do), that you’ve fallen even further behind.

You see everyone else around you, tweeting about all of the latest Netflix series’ they’ve watched, reading all of the newest contemporary fiction releases, never missing an episode of their favourite podcast, all the while getting their 10,000 steps in and getting a full 8-hours a night too (you know that because they share a screenshot of their Fitbit dashboard on Instagram stories every night without fail).

Meanwhile, you struggle to keep up, drowning in a sea of pap pics of Harry Styles and his latest squeeze.

And yes, I realise how hypocritical of me that is to say, given I work in women’s media. It is my literal job to push exciting new shows and latest album releases, but that’ where the lines become even more blurred for me.

You see, I get so pent up about this topic because pop culture means so much more to me, as eyeroll-y, Kim there’s people that are dying, as that sounds. It’s what I do, and is a part of who I am, so if I miss out on a huge celebrity feud or a must-watch period drama, it isn’t just a news story, or a TV show that has slipped by me, it’s a threat to my identity.

I’m the person my boyfriend turns to when he doesn’t understand a meme and the one that everyone in my family shoots their gaze to when a question about Queer Eye comes up on The Chase. I’m supposed to know this stuff, and not knowing it means I’m bad at the one thing I’m supposed to be good at.


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But the problem with wanting to know everything that’s going on in popular culture, is that there’s actually too much to know. Right now there’s more going on than ever before. A pandemic is a prime time to catch up on that to-do list, but the problem is, the list never gets any smaller. There’s constantly a new documentary to add to it, a new book to pre-order, a new podcast to listen to, it’s a never-ending parade of newness and I can’t be the only one feeling fatigued from it all?

But, I suppose we only have ourselves to blame, we’re the cause of this constant barrage. We created an environment where we can have everything we could possibly want on tap. So what’s the solution to this? Well, the bad news is, pop culture isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, and although we didn’t directly create the channels of its distribution, the responsibility of managing it now lies with us as individuals.

In order to beat the game and preserve our sanity, we need to become better consumers.

That means, spending our time and energy on pop culture wisely, learning how to filter out the necessary from the unnecessary, and knowing when exactly to switch off. So take a breather and skip on doing your homework some nights, because you don’t always have to be popular culture’s star pupil.