I mentioned in the last post that I am mainly an auditory learner. I also mentioned that this was a realization that was not easy for me to come by. Nobody ever told me I was an auditory learner. And nobody ever said, “hey school is kinda geared towards visual learning..” Well maybe they did, but I clearly wasn’t listening.
It’s interesting when we learn something new about ourselves. It’s also interesting when we learn that what someone else thinks of us is fundamentally different from what we think of ourselves. I complimented a native Chinese speaker on her paper for class, and she was shocked to learn I thought her writing was good, because she perceived it as weak.
I’ve noticed something else about perceptions in this class I’m taking (Oh, this class I’m taking. I promise you you’re going to hear more about this remarkable class I’m taking, I’m just waiting for the quarter to be over before I dish.) I’ve noticed that people often won’t question the truths about yourself that you put forward. The subject of the class is communication in virtual worlds – yes, video games – and I started off the class by saying I don’t really play video games. And within this class, I seem to be known as the non-gamer. But this is just not true. There’s an air of truthiness to it, when you compare me to my husband and friends who are more hardcore gamers, but it’s not true. I play games. Not epic games, but little games. I like bejeweled, I’m well-versed in Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and I’m more than a little familiar with the Wii. Hell, I host a games party every year! Not only am I a not a non-gamer, I don’t even think I’m the worst gamer in the class. I have a familiarity with the Xbox controller that some of the others don’t. Yet time and time again, I’m mentioned as the non-gamer. I never correct anyone. And none of these people who have seen me game in the class have ever stopped to say, “hey wait a minute….”
Last night we were doing some karaoke using the video game Lipps (yes, this is a real graduate-level course) and I was unfamiliar with a majority of the songs in that game. Some songs I had heard before, but just didn’t recognize the title or artist, as they were one-hit wonders. Still I was unfamiliar with enough of the music that a prominent person in the class found it quite astonishing. The refrain is familiar – how can you not have heard this before? Well, hell, I just don’t know. I consider myself pretty pop-culture savvy, but the music business is and has been quite abysmal so I just don’t pay a whole lot of attention. I also have tastes that some might consider peculiar, though I prefer to say they are refined from years as a musician. Anyway, I have a standard answer for the pesky aforementioned question: “I only listen to old music.” I say this because I am a fan of many classic artists, such as the Beatles, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, etc. But the statement “I only listen to old music…”
It’s categorically, systematically and ridiculously untrue. I listen to all sorts of music. Some new, some old, some jazz, some pop. I do not discriminate on genre or age, only on quality of the musicianship and that elusive and sometimes unquantifiable quality that appeals to me.
Yet that statement seems to be the best and quickest way to explain away my quirks. You’d think being this close to a master’s degree in communication I might be a bit better at actually communicating with people. It’s just that I never want to be seen as someone who is unfamiliar with her surroundings, so questions about how I could have missed some thing that someone else considers so prevalent put me on edge. I’d have similar disdain in my voice if you said you’d never heard of The Beatles. But I’m quite happy with the music I have found (and it’s no small collection, mind you) and I try to stay out of pop culture music discussions for similar reasons. I don’t want you to be offended when I don’t like the music you like – and I probably won’t – so I won’t be offended when you don’t like the music I like. This seems to be the most difficult thing to communicate, probably because music is such a universal language and such a big part of our identities.
So whether true or merely truthy, the non-gamer, old-music listen-y me is a part of my classroom identity, and there’s probably little I can say at this point to change people’s perceptions. It’s not exactly true but it’s true enough. It has to be good enough because to explain further would require a musical vocabulary that many people don’t have. It reminds me that many years ago trying to explain the need for an identity outside of music was beyond my vocabulary at the time. As we’ve discussed in class, people put forth different identities based on situations, and it’s not unusual, just a part of life. I want to be all of me all the time, and I have a hard time accepting that it’s just not possible.
From The Great Gatsby
“It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced – or seemed to face – the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”