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Beautifully Blog-y Tuesdays: "I'm a 98%"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 Leave a Comment

- Jeff Luppino-Esposito

Ok, so here's the general idea. Prepare yourself to answer these questions (as provided by Lauren Paullin on an email listserve). Just think out the answers in your head, don't worry about it, you don't have to remember it, just do it as fast as you can and respond with whatever comes to your mind first. Ok, ready? Go! 2+4= ?, 8+12=?, 15+32=?, 134+15=?, 156+2=?, Think of a color and a tool!

There ya go, did you think of a red hammer? If so, then you are (as the theory goes) within a 98% bracket of all people who take this test. Here's the problem, when Lauren posed this question to the listserve, not a single person responded with the red hammer. How could this be? Some projected that, since it was a theatre-geek listserve (FYP), this was merely a skewed result because these are inherently odd people. Tough to believe. Finally, the always-reliable Norman Gonzalo Reategui of Peru (after pretending to be in the 98%) expressed his discontent for not being in the majority and posed the age-old question: If "everyone" is special, is it not possible to think that no one really is? Touche Norman, a fair inquiry indeed. But I'll have none of that talk...

After Norman directly called me out, I felt it necessary to respond accordingly-

I would like to believe that I'm some incredibly unique being, but I'm gonna be straight forward here-- there is no way that all of FYP (myself included) fits in a 2% of the population bracket in a question of this nature. Yes, 2% of a multi-hundred million population still yields a high number of people, but I think it's a bit pretentious of us to actually take these 'results' at face value.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on FYP at all, it's just that I don't think our 'uniqueness' (which we no doubt all have) would manifest itself in this same manner. Are we to assume that 98% of people can't think of a more creative tool than a hammer? And as for color, I went with my favorite color, green, I think that's a pretty obvious, not very unique choice. Either way, let me get to Norman's proposal (since he so kindly called me out so that I may take a 10 minute break from spamming everyone on facebook about popsense)

His question, just as a reminder, was- "if "everyone" is special, is it not possible to think that no one really is?"

This is, as I'm sure most of you realize, a point of value not just in the context of the red hammer experiment.
Lately I've found myself emerged in the 'hipster' scene in my attempts at being more 'culturally aware'. Inevitably, a common conclusion that can be easily drawn is that, today, a vast majority of our society has taken on the 'counter-conformist' lifestyle that usually yields a conformist result. Last night while surfing YouTube I landed upon a video of some 13 year old kid convinced that he was making the boldest of statements by disregarding the importance of 'conforming to society' so that he may avoid the 'loss of identity'

It is inherent in acting upon this fear of conforming that one in fact loses the identity they wish to maintain. In a deconstructive sense, one is merely supporting the legitimacy of the system by presenting a need to rebel from it. There is, I wager, still a means of existence where we can be 'unique' and 'individual' without trying to be either of those things, but by simply being them.

I turn to one of my favorite theories of all time- advanced theory (feel free to read Chuck Klosterman's article on it here.

Advanced Theory posits that when an artist puts out a song that is deemed 'bad' by 99% of the population, it may not be because the music sucks, but rather because 99% of the population IS NOT ADVANCED enough to understand it. Klosterman pokes fun at this theory, in the same way this theory pokes fun at all forms of high culture that assume a lack of 'understanding' in the place of a lack of appreciation.

The reason I bring up this theory is because it places understanding, creativity, and uniqueness on a linear plane. This is not the case. One cannot fall into a 2% or a 98% of uniqueness, no arbitrary question about colors and tools can offer some numeric result that should determine our individuality.

It's not surprising, Norman, that you wanted to be in that 98%. I bet a lot of us felt that way after seeing everyone's answers. But why do you want to be in that 98%, so you may be different, right? So the numbers, then, mean nothing, it's just this idea of being 'different' than a select group of people.

"If everyone is special, is it not possible that no one really is?"
No Norman, that isn't possible. Whether or not we have a predictable response to a random question does not have any effect on our individuality. To think that it does, or rather, to let it, is the only way that it ever could.


Agree? Or am I full of shit? Leave a comment, let me know!


  • Anonymous said:  

    hmm interesting, except I picked the red hammer. damn.

  • A.A.C. said:  

    So based on the logic of Klosterman's theory, if I ever have a post here than the majority of the viewership doesn't like, I'm just going to say society is just not advanced enough to appreciate my work. Haha, always nice to have a go-to excuse just in case.

    Seriously though, I have to agree with you Jeff on the whole being unique/individual thing. Some of the most unique I know are ones who just do what's in their hearts w/o any focus on what is "counter-culture" or not. If you want to be different, just focus on being yourself.

  • boston bob said:  

    I gotta agree, I CAN'T STAND IT when everyone thinks they're being so unique by 'fighting the man' or whatever shit they call it on any given day. a.a.c. is right, just be who you are, that is unique in itself.

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