Being Metro‘s resident culture commentator is both fun and incredibly stressful. This is mostly because I inherently consume said culture at the pace of a very tired snail. I’ll probably finally watch my whole Netflix queue when Prince George ascends to the throne (perfect timing, I’m sure, for season 20 of The Crown).
This isn’t really a problem for me personally, except now it’s always a problem because I’m supposed to have something new and cool to say every week. So, in an attempt to gamify (and therefore increase) my media intake, I keep meticulous notes of every single thing I watch/read/ play in my free time.
So, here are the year’s results: 93 books, 33 movies, 25 TV shows and nine games. All were short of my original goals (100 books, 50 movies, 30 TV shows and 20 games).
I made some bad calls, I’ll admit. I picked games that required massive time commitments to finish (average 50 hours each). I went on a RFK biography kick that lasted a wee bit too long (still not done with the Schlesinger monster). I started too many shows without finishing the older ones. (In fact, my TV numbers are padded with an alarming number of “anime series where each episode is only three minutes.”) I always waste too much time dithering over what I should watch instead of just watching something, anything.
I mean, sure, it seems like a lot when you just see the numbers. But then my fellow Metro staffers are out there talking about how they rewatch all of Friends every year (Nicole) or want to take 30 Rock for a sixth go-round (Jaimie). Then I’m being asked if I’ve watched Westworld yet (Christina) because it deals with video games and totally seems like my thing.
The result, looking at my meager yet really quite respectable list, is a coil of uneasiness, a vague sense of anxiety — did I waste my time on the wrong things? Am I not doing this right? Am I a terrible critic after all? Why did I spend nine hours watching The Hobbit trilogy (extended editions)? Am I … missing out?
The funny thing is, I never worry about FOMO when it comes to real life. I don’t care who invites me to dinner or if I didn’t go to a party. But when people tell me, “I was waiting to hear what you had to say about Rogue One,” and it’s two weeks after the release and I still haven’t seen it, I get antsy on the inside. I start reading spoilers just so I know what’s happening.
That’s the double-edged sword of what I mentioned last week — there’s so much good stuff out now, you just can’t keep up with it all. I know you feel it, too. We’re all playing a game of perpetual catchup.
So, my pop culture resolution for 2017 is just to relax. Read what I want to read, watch what I want to watch, spend time on what I want. I’ll still write it all down — the gamer in me likes such clearly defined achievements — but I’m going to focus on what excites me, not what has the most hype. I hope that this, in turn, makes me a better critic for you.
Thanks for reading all year. (And if you’re really keen to know what was on my list, shoot me an email or find me on social media.)