Stuff People Seem To Like #3: Bacon

10 11 2009

Mmmmm… bacon. This fatty swine-derived product is suddenly America’s little darling.

It’s not clear when the obsession began, but I started noticing my coworkers’ purchases of bacon-scented air fresheners and bacon-infused donuts. Bacon costumes appeared at the Dragon*Con geek fest and on Halloween. I took a tour of a cave near Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the tour guide was quick to point out a bacon-shaped rock formation. Bacon-wrapped dates and a BaconFest at Dad’s Garage, a local improv theater, are some other baconizations to chew on.

Could it be a knee-jerk reaction to all this talk about healthy eating and vegetarianism? It’s like there are two factions in contemporary popular culture: complete veg and meat-o-rama. To take a moderate road is to be a fool.

In any case, bacon is pretty good in measured amounts. Scientists are quick to reassure you that your breakfast will not give you the dreaded Swine Flu, also known as H1N1 (I’ve sunk your battleship!).  So, of course it’s good for you. I’ll have some bacon on occasion. The gristly goodness and crispy, smoky deliciousness makes it just about the only kind of pork that I will knowingly eat. Maybe it’s time I was beggin’ for bacon.





Stuff People Seem To Like #2: Twitter

10 11 2009

Twitter is the Hot New Thing right now. Actually, no, it’s not.

There seems to be some confusion over the novelty of Twitter, and some speculation as to why middle-aged folks have flocked to it while in theory younger people are attached to Facebook. (And then there’s the folks in the middle, who dabble in both if they can muster the interest.)

Hold on to your Fail Whale T-shirts, folks, because this site is with us whether we like it or not.

I think most people are ambivalent. Twitter is like a bulletin board for mobile communication, but it has a lot of other users and people don’t really agree on what they use the site for. Different apps and habits are at play, creating a tension in the community that is both vibrant and intimidating.

I get a little bit of anxiety every time I post a tweet because it’s hard to know what’s going to happen and under what circumstances people will be reading it. At times, it can be very tempting to rattle off a random thought or go off on a rant, or to announce one’s state of inebriation. Getting a reply is almost always a relief for me because then I know that the message has been received. The low barrier to entry facilitates this kind of impulsivity. But giving two-way conversation is very difficult, and it always feels as if one is showing off when one replies to another. I admittedly prefer to respond to tweets on Facebook, where it feels  a little more personal. Separation of the Twitter Church from the Facebook State is still in effect at this time, but I may change my mind.

There’s a potential for an awkward situation when tweets cross over from Internet to real-life conversation. It’s fine to tell someone you enjoyed their tweet, but I would say real-life critical discussion of one’s online behavior is a definite no-no unless you are prepared to suffer the awkward consequences.

There are people who take this communication medium much more seriously than I, and sit for hours replying and live-tweeting their lives away. It is a use more comparable to instant messaging. Depending on the app shell you have, this will look and behave differently to you. Me, I think I would be a bit self-conscious about living this way.

I don’t know what else to say. I guess I’ll leave the leadership and official commentary to the social media gurus steering this awkward ship.

Note: I’ve engaged in a little self-editing here, as I feel that I might have come off a bit harsher than I was picturing it in my head. The irony that I posted this post on Twitter was not lost on me.





Stuff People Seem To Like #1: Cougars

10 11 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of snapshots into what makes our culture tick: our strange obsessions with odd or silly things.

Cougars are hot right now. I’m not talking about the furry kind in the feline family; I’m talking about older women who purr like a kitten when a younger suitor comes around.

It’s not really clear what started this phenomenon. The first I heard about them started after a late-night discussion about some men’s preference for older women. I know of a few guys who subscribe to this type of thing. Shortly after that discussion, cougars were everywhere. On the news, on TV, in my Twitter feed, you name it. Somebody call Animal Control! I have to wonder if men now feel some kind of subconscious pressure to go for that aging vixen beckoning them from the bar. They do die sooner, after all, and age less gracefully. (I realize this is a gross generalization.)

Or, is this just one of those fads that won’t last very long?

And is a woman who seeks out a younger man really a predator? Or is she simply a woman who wants a more youthful countenance? So many cultural stereotypes are at play here. We will think nothing of an older man who seeks out a younger woman. That’s the way of things, and men are less mature after all.

Chew on that, cougars, there’s more meat where that comes from.