Monday, December 19, 2005

So out of it

Let me tell you about my friend Jerry. He's so out of it. Things that most people get really worked up about have no impact on him at all. Jerry greets 95% of all news stories with a yawn. He sticks entire sections of the morning paper -- sports, business, real estate -- unread into the recycling bin. He doesn't seem to belong to the target audience of a single print magazine. Jerry will hang around magazine stands with me, flipping desultorily through a few issues, and then go home empty-handed to read some science fiction paperback he bought on eBay. The hot blog topics on Technorati and its Swedish equivalent Knuff are just completely beyond his ken. He never watches TV.

You'd think that Jerry would at least have to face reality to support himself. Kind of hard to ignore The Man when you're working for him. But no. Jerry is an ivory tower scholar, working in a field that interests few and employs even fewer, making a precarious living with private research grants. For most of his working life, Jerry has had no boss, no co-workers and no monthly salary. Good for Jerry he's got inexpensive tastes and good health. He hardly pays any taxes and so isn't eligible for much in the way of social security.

The man's politics are basically sound, but he's infuriatingly phlegmatic about them. He actually doesn't care who the people in charge are, as long as they represent a party to his liking. Jerry's involvement in politics is limited to a bit of web surfing before every election (he does vote) and some money donated by automatic transfer to a few lobby groups.

If I understand the man correctly, he only really cares about his family and a few friends, his abstruse research, his idiosyncratic tastes in reading and music, his internet correspondence, and some weird-ass outdoor sport, otherwise favoured mainly by retired engineers and long-haul truckers.

Jerry simply doesn't seem to live in the same world as most people. He's barely a member of society, preferring to watch it bemusedly from his eyrie or dungeon or island or asylum. He's so out of it. And you know what? I'm a lot like him.

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