At the YMCA, I stepped up on the elliptical machine to start exercising. To entertain myself, I brought along a radio receiver and headphones so that I could listen to one of the five TV channels playing. I am not for sure why, but one of the TV programs caught my attention and I decided to listen to it for a couple of minutes.
When I turned on my headset the first thing I heard was, “I want to introduce you to one of my friends who has just wrote a raunchy book.” Laughter emitted from the other two panelist seated around the table. The young woman, who had written the book, also laughed. . .I will come back to the interview in a moment.
After listening to the interview, I decided to go online and read more about the book. According to reviews the book is a memoir about the author’s life, and it opens with the loss of her grandmother. The author writes about how she used excessive drinking and chain smoking to grieve her loss. Then as one reviewer writes, the rest of the book is about her transformation. “But out of the darkness that threatens to overwhelm her, she begins a powerful and transformative journey through crazy one night stands and ill-advised hookups with friends; band benders mixing margaritas and marijuana…an encounter with a man who finally shows her that the chance for love never disappears.”
Another reviewer praised the author for being gutter-mouthed…having no fear…appearing naked on the cover of her first book…starting a political t-shirt line with sayings like ‘If It’s Date Rape, Do I get Dinner.’” The last reviewer I read glowingly refered to her as a female Howard Stern.
The reviews of the book were definitely reflective of the author’s hubristic attitude as she talked about her book. From my perspective, the author’s responses were “narcissistic” or at the very least had an “all about me” tone.
Here are some excerpts from the interview (I was able to find it again online).
Panel member: (speaking to audience) I tried very hard to find an excerpt from the book that I could read to you but it was way too raunchy, I will let her tell you about it…
Author: My biggest challenge is trying to get everyone as interested in me as I am in myself.
Panel member: It is a very self-absorbed gesture, a memoir.
Author: I think I am very self absorbed.
Panel member: You write about your parents in this also.
Author: Fair game, everyone knows that I am a writer; I don’t pretend that I am a scientist.
Panel Member: …[your book] focuses on a post-feminist world where young woman have potentially more freedom than their parent’s generation. There is a lot of talk in your book about how you get from there to meaningful relationships. Why are a lot of young people looking for commitment, while people in marriages wish they were younger or freer?
Author: I think it is the advice that young girls are given and the rules that they are suppose to follow. I think the rules are just made up.
Panel Member: What is the most important rule to break?
Author: I think all of them… You should do what you feel like doing because you feel like doing it.
Panel member: With a child on the way is this going to change your raunchy writing persona?
Author: I hope not.
Panel member: (jokingly) Don’t let this kid get in the way of your adventures.
Author: My mother is really concerned about his (the unborn baby) well being. I think there are a lot worse things I could be doing. He’ll get on board. He will be okay. He doesn’t have a choice.
I didn’t feel any better about the interview the second time I listened to it. Though in fairness to the author her book does question the thinking that the only way a woman can have a good life is by being with a man. And, she does talk about the importance of having a meaningful relationship, though I am not for sure how she would define one.
The Peep Culture
As I was ruminating why a young woman would want to write about her successions of one-night stands and her ill-advised hook-ups, I came across another interesting book, The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors by Hal Niedzviecki. Niedzviecki posits that we have entered into a “peep culture” where people feel free to tell-it-all and show-it-all. He points out that this, along with the rapid emergency of digital technology, is radically changing our culture and society. According to the review, Niedzviecki uses the latest sociological research to look at this trend. His book “captures the shift from pop to peep… [and] reflects the aspirations and confusions of the growing number of people willing to trade the details of their private lives for catharsis, attention, and notoriety.”
I may have to purchase Niedzvieck’s book. Maybe, from a sociological perspective, it will help me understand why as a society we need to tell-it-all and focus on self. Frankly, I find this type of behavior kind of scary.
Oh yeah, I didn’t tell you the name of the young woman’s book did I. Since we are living in such a self-absorbed world, I have decided that I have no desire to promote her work. So, I am not going to because I don’t want to.
The more I thought about the peep culture, I couldn’t help but wonder how much I am contributing to it. After all I write a blog sharing my thoughts. What makes me think anyone else would care? Isn’t blogging a bit egotistical?
I also belong to Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. I have to admit that I am more of a voyeur on these, but isn’t voyeurism part of the problem with the peep culture. Hmmmm, something to think about – I never thought of myself as a “peeper” – oh my!
What is a Think Through? it is an idiom that conveys the meaning of carefully considering possibilities and outcomes of a situation.
Today’s Think Through: What do you think about our culture’s tell-all and show-all attitude? How do you view social media’s contribution to society? Your contribution to it? Is it changing our culture for the good or bad or having little effect?
Picture: Thomas Leuthard / Foter.com / CC BY