“So, uh… Whiskeytown is your favorite band?”: Dating and Popular Culture


(photo credit: richkidsunite, via Flickr)

I have long accepted I need to write about happenings in my life in order to make sense of them. The unfortunate aspect about this understanding is that I write about it, and consider the job to be finished; even when I know something is good for me, I write about it and leave it. It’s on the floor like my ever-growing collection of post-it notes with positive affirmations scrawled on them.

Last year I downloaded a dating app for the first time. I was genuinely curious about the whole online dating app culture worked, but I couldn’t get over my long held smugness about dating apps because I was in a relationship. Admittedly I relished in the fact I would *never* use an app because I didn’t have to. There was a super sense of shame buried really deep about being curious about them, the fact people could actually want to use a dating app and most importantly, the fact they could work for people. Maybe after three days and three successful conversations, I deleted the app and wrote a post about it.

Fast forward to yesterday, I downloaded a different dating app. It’s been a year and I feel like I’m ready to try the whole dating thing again and have promised to keep the app for more than three days, even if I’m not as “successful” as my personal definition of “success” tells me to be. I know it’s silly to write about my experience after only ONE day and negative one conversations, but let me tell you, I’ve already been confronted with my biggest nitpick about dating: this app has the option to link your Spotify library to your profile, and if I had to make an early prediction about the Taylor Dating Game, this is going to ruin me.

I know you have the power to attempt to keep yourself from dwelling on certain issues and make sure to do everything possible to prevent something from “ruining you”, but I fell off the metaphorical wagon in five minutes of scrolling through potential matches. On my first go around with my swiping fingers, I found the profile of my longtime crush and the internal storm started a-brewin’. I don’t fault him at all for having a profile because he can do whatever he wants, but this is one of those situations where you don’t want to believe the actual reality of the situation: the relationship with the crush was 99.9% built up in my head to be much better and more important. Of course I immediately retracted into my own bad habit sphere and turned on my trusty Sad Music playlist.

Thankfully, I quickly remembered my whole purpose for downloading a dating app, and did some actual fun swiping. My best friend and I went to dinner and giggled about the whole process and how I really want to stop being so self deprecating, and I came across a guy’s profile with the Spotify extension and his favorite artists were Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, and Ryan’s solo work. My eyes immediately lit up more for his musical choices than his pictures or bio or anything actually important.

I’m writing this because I’m self aware enough to admit I care so much about someone’s tastes in popular culture. I’ve written a lot about my struggle with being compared with Rob, the main character in “High Fidelity.” I acknowledge and understand the connection that can be made by sharing music, TV, or movies with someone, but now I’m struggling with this question: can we really have fulfilling relationships when pop culture plays a huge role in your life?

I’ve made genuine connections with people through a mutually strong love of music and I’m thankful for them. But as I try to navigate the idea of post grad relationships, can I really show desired parts of myself with someone when I’m trying to use my favorite music as an example of how this band made me into the person I am today? I didn’t create the song I’m so adamant in showing to you. How can someone genuinely understand ME through something I had no involvement in? When you admittedly hide behind your love of something, it’s daunting to understand you are doing this when you come to the realization.

Over thinking every situation in life is my self proclaimed biggest talent. I also know I made the biggest strides in making sense of my teenage years through episodes of “My So-Called Life” and repeated listenings of “Automatic For The People” by R.E.M.. Would it make sense to explain to someone that the hallway scene where Angela and Jordan Catalano hold hands for the first time with a Buffalo Tom song playing in the background, ruined my expectations for relationships for the next few years? Does my understanding of the massive impact these two fictional characters have on my personality make the “getting to know you” process more genuine?

The process of trying to understand a sense of self is ongoing, and I realize this. Writing this blog post is my first substantial proof that dating during a crucial time in my life where I am still arguably at the peak time for self discovery, is going to be a Big Deal. I’d like to end these thoughts with the idea of knowing I’ll still have my favorite comfort TV shows to turn to during difficult times in the process, but coming to terms with the honest truth of needing to separate myself a little from the media I love most, is important to me, because I know I will be more successful with making new connections.

Really though, I still have a big desire to open a conversation with “do you think video REALLY killed the radio star, or what?”

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