It says it right there in the header: Deborah Makarios, Old-Fashioned Fruitcake. But what do I mean when I call myself old-fashioned? (Sorry to disappoint you: am not actually a cake.)
There are so many negative connotations that people apply to the term ‘old-fashioned’, such as prudish, backward, ignorant, intolerant, narrow-minded, prejudiced, uneducated, judgemental, afraid of technology… The list goes on.Continue & Comment
The way some people talk, you would think that being different from those around you was an inherently bad thing – particularly if the difference is externalized in the way you appear. Speaking from personal experience, this is at best a massive oversimplification, and at worst a covert attempt to enforce muffin-ness.
1) The Odd One Out is not easily mistaken for someone else. Ever been introduced under another’s name? Awkward for everyone. The only time I myself have ever been mistaken for someone else was the year I spent in uniform – school, not military. And speaking of the military, there are medals for conspicuous gallantry, so why not one for being gallantly conspicuous? This guy deserves one, for a start.
2) Conformists have to re-outfit themselves as often as the ‘in’ thing changes. The Odd One Out thus saves a packet on overpriced poor quality items and is still free to change their look whenever they please.
3) Ever played the game “I’ve Never”? It’s a party game – each player is issued with a limited number of tokens. Then each takes turns saying something they’ve never done. Anyone who has done that loses a token. “I’ve never owned a smartphone.” “I’ve never used a hair dryer.” “I’ve never owned a car.” Whatever it is that makes you the Odd One Out is now solid gold. Go forth and conquer.
4) Relative immunity from peer pressure. Peer pressure is basically just pressure to conform. The threat held over you is that you will be the Odd One Out if you don’t. You already are the Odd One Out, so what’s to lose by refusing to submit?
I am aware that ostracism can be a painful thing, but trust me, it isn’t friendship if you have to buy it at the cost of being yourself.
5) You’re outside the game. In Victorian times, the social code was so static it was published in books, which told you the correct thing to do in any given situation. But today, the codes and rules are not only unwritten but mostly unspoken – and unlike the Laws of the Medes and the Persians, they constantly change.
Frankly, I wouldn’t even play a game under those conditions (Mao is what they play in Purgatory), let alone live my life that way. Be yourself, be considerate, and if anyone mocks or scorns you, give thanks that you don’t have to dance to their contorted little tune – because you are the Odd One Out.
Agree? Disagree? None of the above? Your thoughts welcomed!
Do you ever feel out of place in your time? Is the post-modern era just not you?
I don’t mean physically, necessarily, although it’s tempting to look back to a time when one’s personal physique was the ideal and the clothing of the era would actually be becoming. (Note to self: avoid 1920s.)
Do you ever have the feeling that you are out of step with your times, that their values are not yours, and you just don’t fit in?
I feel this quite frequently. I haven’t settled on a preferred piece of history (probably just as well as I couldn’t get there if I did) but I am most definitely not a Thoroughly Modern Millie – or an Ironically Postmodern Paige.
I recently read an interesting article by Adam Gopnik on why he doesn’t tweet. He asserts that people largely adopt the latest newest social media/communication device or technology because they want to fit in. As he puts it: “The urge to belong to our age is more powerful than the need to use our time efficiently… They fear being traitors to their time, renegades to their generation.”
It’s not about the need. It’s about the fun and groupiness of the new way of doing it. I once had someone text me in the bus to ask me to open the window – someone sitting less than two metres away who could have made himself heard without even raising his voice.
And who hasn’t seen the two teens sitting side by side, texting each other? By no stretch of the imagination are their cell phones fulfilling a need. It’s just fun. Era-appropriate fun, although if their parents are paying their mobile bills they might disagree.
Now, I am not so utilitarian of soul as to suggest that all these forms of technology and communication be dropped. But we tend to see them as a sort of sine qua non of modern life, and as a result those who don’t adopt them are left out – not intentionally marginalised, but nonetheless finding themselves out on the fringe.
It is possible to live a full and fulfilling life in 2014 without a Twitter feed. Or a Facebook account. Or even a cell phone. You may miss out on some witty exchanges (assuming they weren’t high-profile enough to make the news) or some parties (because Facebook only lets your friends invite Facebook-people) or that thing you just remembered you should have put on the shopping list, but think of what you gain.
We complain of overload – too many contacts, too much that could be interesting, and too many people playing annoying games or posting pictures of what they had for lunch (before they ate it: mercifully there is no ‘Digesti-Cam’ app – yet).
Of course, many people judge that ‘keeping up’ is worth these hassles – and that’s their choice, a choice they should be free to make. But it isn’t a choice if you don’t feel you have any option.
So here I am, planting a flag in 2014 and claiming this little piece of the post-modern era for those taking the path less travelled by: the traitors to our time.
Full disclosure: I do have a cell phone. I use it every day, but I’m considering getting an alarm clock to do the job instead.