Bridging the immersion gap

There are people who love indie music. Love it to death. Know everything, have created their own scene, talk incessantly about it, identify with fellow indie rock nerds. And then there are those who don’t know anything about it at all, who simply don’t care, who don’t have time to learn new music, who are content listening to the typical.

And then there’s the lonely expanse in between.

The line between being part of a scene and being out of touch is rather wide. Yet, the people who fall into the middle – a seemingly wide range of opinions, you’d think – are nearly always out of place in either camp – looking either like a poseur or a radical, respectively.

In other words, instead of being openly accepted by both sides for being open to alternative ideas while still holding true to the status quo, the people who toe this line seem detached from both groups.

My example, though shallow, is in regards to music, though it resonates through any concept that has two polarized sides, whether opposing views or depth of knowledge.

I listen to a wide variety of music. Music on both major and independent labels. Music that my grandparents could understand and music that the guys in tight jeans love. I taste from every genre, preferring some, leaving others be.

To the people I work with, however, Radiohead is a foreign concept. These are people who, despite their creativity otherwise, are simply rarely in tune with anything more alternative than the local hot hits station. It’s not because they hate these bands – it’s just that they’re not familiar and, at this stage in life, immersing yourself in new music can be a time consuming commitment that most lose track of.

Then, turn it onto the other side. I rarely go to shows any more. I walk in and find myself seemingly out of place. The kids – and, to be fair, adults – who attend most of the shows of bands I’d care to see (independent, underground, indie rock, whatever it’s called) are deeply immersed in this lifestyle. They are familiar with more than just Radiohead and it’s derivatives – they’re lifelong addicts of left-of-center music. Sure, I’ve got a few Wolf Parade CDs, but I’m still rocking Modest Mouse, long after they were really relevant. And R.E.M. And 90’s Revelation Records emo.

It carries over to other concepts. Ask a casual tech follower who has friends both deeply immersed in Web 2.whatever and incredibly Web deficient. Ask a moderate how they feel standing in between a liberal and conservative. Ask a gamer how frustrating it can be to be too good for the “Medium” difficulty, but not good enough to handle “Hard.”

When this is your position, it’s hard to figure out which direction to go. Learn more and join the uber-knowledgable? Count your losses and just stop caring?

Or admit your place in the food chain and continue bridging the gap.

This was lovingly handwritten on October 22nd, 2008