Being Wrong is Wrong
I’m going to give you fair and even warning concerning the following content:
I will discuss a song and post a version of it that will become part of your very being after hearing it. It will embed itself in you not so much as a worm, but as a tick or lamprey. Do not listen to it unless you are prepared for the horror.
All warnings done and posted? Good. Let’s begin.
This is the song Winchester Cathedral by The New Vaudeville Band. It is mentioned in this horrible list with this gem of a quote,
“…a song so bland it runs out of ideas after the first three notes.”
But this post isn’t about music. No, this post is about the idea behind Winchester Cathedral winning Best Contemporary Song when other possible choices include the original Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. Winchester Cathedral is what happens when the sweetness in a piece of Dubble Bubble runs out. (Some of you know exactly what I mean.) For those not in the know, Dubble Bubble has approximately ten whole seconds when it tastes like bubble gum and a remaining lifetime where it tastes like chewy failure.
But somehow, Winchester Cathedral and Dubble Bubble both made(make) money. They have probably both won awards. Why? Because in our world, wrong isn’t determined by objective standards. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that of late, wrong is often lauded and celebrated. It’s embraced because, and this is key, the adherence to a way of thinking and being is seen as being more important than honesty.
I was having a discussion with a friend recently. They are a teacher and they have students coming of age and entering the “real” world. This friend asked their students for a list of things that they should partake in, culture-wise, to understand what modern culture has to offer these days. This friend received dozens of recommendations. Shows with hundreds of episodes. Artists that had dozens of albums. Movies that were three hours in length. My friend realized that there was a much bigger problem than just a lack of time.
The problem is that what it means to have a shared experience in our day is quickly slipping through our collective grasp. And we’re all to blame. Our sense of who we are is becoming increasingly granular. By the day, it feels like. What do I mean? Well, it used to be back in my day (yes, I’m old enough to say that) we had a handful of cultural content items to peruse and agree or disagree on. If you didn’t like The Rolling Stones? No problem, you probably liked The Beatles. But the rise of hipsterism, in its modern usage, means that in order for me to feel a sense of worth and value, I must belong based on the tiniest little cultural markers.
Being wrong about [X] is being wrong about all.
We reject each other because it’s difficult to simply accept difference. Do you see how weird this is? I once asked, on social media, what social media might be like if it were more like your elementary school when you had assigned seats. It’s hard to imagine that you sign up for Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or whatever is currently en vogue, and you get saddled with a maximum of thirty people you don’t know, and only a fraction of them have anything in common with you. There’s that one kid eating paste two seats over. There’s that one girl who never says anything. Then there’s that special one who seems the least weird and you become fast friends, clinging to each other just to survive.
The Internet gave birth to social media and social media has given birth to granular tribalism and granular tribalism is giving birth, right before our very eyes, to loneliness and despair on a level we have never seen before. Why? Because we were made to be communally diverse. We were made to share our lives with those different than we are. It’s part of our DNA. I could go into the historical movements that have most embraced granular tribalism and they mostly share one feature: they don’t last long.
So maybe you like Winchester Cathedral. Being wrong about that as you are, I can absolutely say I still want to get coffee with you and get to know you better. Because you and me need each other’s differences. God blesses his church this way, too. We can disagree about so much and never once touch the things that bind us together. And that? That right there is beautiful.
Now that I’ve gotten this out of my system, let me help you wash your brain out…