I always used to pick on my friend [name omitted], because he’s very particular about the things he likes. Specifically, if a lot of other people like it, he doesn’t like it. I never used to understand this.
“But [name omitted]*,” I’d tell him. “If it’s good, it doesn’t matter how many people like it. Good is good right?”
But he’d always stick to his guns, and I’d always leave feeling a little confused.
Well, yesterday I got a little taste of his perspective.
Allow me to set the scene. I was shopping in Target a while back when I came across a book simply titled Room. I picked up the book, read the synopsis, and thumbed through the first few pages. In that span of time, I was hooked. I knew I had to own that book. So I went home and logged on to Amazon to order it with the gift card my parents gave me for Christmas. I thought I might even feature it in the Bizzaro Book Review since it was such a wonderfully unique concept.
Fast-forward a few days. I was walking into Walmart to clock in with the book in my hands and some random stranger stopped long enough to tell me “That’s an amazing book.”
Okay, cool. Most of the people I see at work don’t strike me as reading types, so it’s nice to connect with another librophile.
Then on my lunch break I checked my tweets and there wass one from someone talking about how much they were enjoying reading Room. Okayyy. Coincidences happen right? I mean I’m not the only person reading the book in the world.
But when I’m going to clock out the big bomb dropped. One of the girls who works the night shift saw the book in my hand and said, “Oh hey, I heard on the news that was supposed to be a great book.”
The news? They’re talking about it on the news? At this point I started to get a sinking feeling. I didn’t know this was going to be a popular book. I mean, If everyone is reading it, it means I’m not special anymore, right?
It took me almost until I got home to realize I was taking the exact same position my friend [name omitted] had taken about various movies and comic books, and I further realized that I needed to take the same advice that I had given him. I didn’t fall in love with the book because it made me unique or special. I fell in love with the book because it seemed like a really interesting story told with a unique voice. If everyone in the world was reading the book, it shouldn’t make a difference. Twilight aside, popularity does not automatically imply poor quality.
But it is easy to fall into the lone wolf trap from time to time. We all like to feel like we’re discovering something that everyone else is too blind to see; we love feeling special and unique. But the truth is we’re not special or unique. Well, I’m not anyway. I’ve got my quirks, and I don’t see eye to eye with everybody on everything, but when you dig right down the the core of my humanity I’m not that much different than anyone else out there.
Maybe that’s why I like Room so much. Because I want to be different, just like everyone else.
*Conversing with [name omitted] is an exercise in verbal gymnastics. It’s really hard to pronounce those brackets.