Monday, June 13, 2011

Archetypes

There's always a little light that goes on in my head whenever I see someone capture the essence of something that, while perhaps stereotyped and oversimplified, has a lot of truth to it.

Daniel Rosenthal's answer to Why is U2 so popular? on Quora:
Imagine you’re a middle-aged, upper-middle class male.You live in a large metropolitan area. You have a good job. Your wife does Pilates.  Your oldest just started Kindergarten. Yes, you’re an adult but you’re still cool! Your jeans cost $125. Sometimes you wear sneakers with a blazer!  
Then you learn that U2 is coming to town – U2!  Earnest, melodic, Oprah-endorsed U2! $200 a ticket? No problem. You get a sitter. Your wife is excited – this is going to be great!  You invite some friends from college to join you.
On the way, you listen to the “early stuff”. Joshua Tree pumps through the speakers of your Lexus SUV (no judgement - you have two kids!). The harmonies soothe. The lyrics are straightforward. You recall a simpler time before car seats and prostate exams. The nostalgia is so thick you have to wipe it from your face. You haven’t looked at your phone in nearly 11 minutes.
 
You arrive at the show and see yourself everywhere. Tasteful North Face and Patagonia jackets abound. The stands are awash in earth tones.  No one is shoving. No one has a nose ring. These are your people.  

Here's to the head nod, the greeting that isn't. 
The person you encounter doesn't merit the opening of your mouth or the formation of words, much less the lifting of your hand. At the same time, though, for whatever reason--oh, and there are plenty--it is an acknowledgment of their existence.
The disdainful head nod - I dislike you so much that I'm going to deny you the satisfaction of thinking I'm avoiding you. 
The forced head nod - This is when you make eye contact with someone you don't really know that well, and hold it too long, and your social instincts compel you to make some sort of acknowledgment 
The guilty head nod- You know you "should" be acknowledging this person--what have they done to you?--and you oblige, but it the weakest way possible.  
The embarrassed head nod - You have been defeated in some way by the other person, and are too stunned and/or shamed to reply with words

And on one of the favorite topics among underclassmen at Cornell:
"Speaking of why we heart Cornell, I came here because I hated Harvard. So upper class and snooty--I hear they have segregation there. I like the diversity and acceptance here--a doctor's daughter from Long Island could totally date an accountant's son from Westchester, and it's honestly not really like a big deal at all!" 

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