White people, school me...

Page 2 - Seeking answers? Join the AnandTech community: where nearly half-a-million members share solutions and discuss the latest tech.

Charmonium

Diamond Member
May 15, 2015
5,858
440
126
There's no point to try to understand any particular cultural niche unless you're going to keep up with it. And if you don't enjoy it, which I'm guessing you don't, there's no way you'll do this.

I had a similar experience a couple of years ago. I started volunteering at a local college radio station because I was upset that I wasn't listening to music anymore. Not even oldies, which I generally don't like anyway, but let's skip that for now.

I did this for a solid year. I researched the new music coming to the station. I listened to other dj's to find stuff that I liked, etc. But you know what? That shit gets tiresome when your heart isn't in.

Same thing with you. :)
 

Juiblex

Senior member
Sep 26, 2016
238
58
71
I'm white and pretty well off and feel the same way. The difference is I don't give a shit what people think about me and you do. I'm into a lot of nerd shit that other people aren't into.
Same here.

I don't know much about pop culture and when I'm in a mix of white people (or well anybody) I often feel just as lost about what the hell they are talking about.

Around here it seems like sports are all the rage, and seems like everybody gravitates towards that. I couldn't tell you the last name of anybody on the local team, while everybody else seems to know their last name, first name, and what college said player went to, the stats from last year. I just don't get it.
 
Mar 15, 2003
12,502
33
91
One reason why I've never felt much like listening to Dylan is that I dislike so many of his fans. They almost all seem to be privately-educated. Certainly all the famous ones.

"networking" is a critical part of how a class-system maintains itself.
warning, I just got a storz and bikel product that is making me quite chatty and my wife is tired of hearing me talk...ON networking, brother - I hear you. I don't like it, I find it pretentious, I'm slightly indifferent to the culture (I'm not dismissive, I try to keep up and actually do like much of it, i'm not exactly hood and my heroes are mostly white) but MAN, is it hard to keep up with!

But specifically on networking i'm sitting here jealous of those dummies with their netflix watch parties and would love to .. know people... i'm sad my kid only had family at our zoom birthday gathering. I completely blame myself for not keeping up with people, for not meeting new people (lots of my circle were priced out over years), and blame my indifference to it all leading to my fam suffering from it. career wise i have to fight for every lead but if i networked better things would be much easier. necessary evil. I think I'm a completely average guy, but I aspire to one day be an "interesting fellow," as pretentious as that sounds I'd love my 50s to include smoking a pipe playing scrabble with somewhat educated people, not hog tieing and baseball games (wife has midwestern country roots to keep my inspiration for worry in check). i see the sadness in staying workclass in mind, the fall is very short and upward mobility saved a lot of them (and my family, oh the drunks!). Noticing that many of our friends with the six figure incomes are skinny/attractive borderline idiots who are just really good with people was eye opening. the weight is the other thing i'm self concious on but that has an easy game plan.

and to correct a point in another post, I don't *hate* the culture at all. I have a fairly good knowledge of 90s "White" culture onward because I lived it (i grew up in the hood but was exposed to a lot on mtv, etc), it's the mass volumes of pop culture knowledge that predates us that people seem to have that intimidates me. A cheat sheet would be helpful for those moments, like in IT crowd they had a sports website that listed sayings to say to pretend you're in the know ..

my larger point is that I do feel like the a culturaal "knowledge" wall does exist, perhaps to keep some outside ("MY kids will know dylan's classics!") but I want in. but 100%, i get it "be yourself" I'm not disagreeing :) I feel this way about golf but there's a longer rant for another day. yes, yes, tiger woods but I'm still scared of walking into a club but MAN would my business pick up.
 
Last edited:

Ichinisan

Lifer
Oct 9, 2002
27,982
1,086
136
Even as a white guy, I'm pretty sure I'm actually more ignorant / oblivious to the stuff they would talk about in social settings.
 

Tweak155

Lifer
Sep 23, 2003
11,288
196
106
Even as a white guy, I'm pretty sure I'm actually more ignorant / oblivious to the stuff they would talk about in social settings.
There is a good reason for this though... you shouldn’t let others define what is interesting to you.

Only caveat I have to this might be topics that are good for your health or well being (or those you care about). It’s good to be knowledgeable in that area regardless of interest level.
 

pmv

Diamond Member
May 30, 2008
6,114
1,746
136
Sounds like you are hanging out with a very specific crowd that talks about very specific topics that you are not interested in. It's not really a white person thing.

TO be honest, I took it as read that the issue was more about class than race. But feeling alienated can take different forms, and an individual can interpret it in different ways, if there are multiple possible differences available to focus on, one might initially perceive it as being due to any one of them.
 
Feb 25, 2011
16,520
1,305
126


If you're into nerdy shit, just rewatch some Sci-Fi and have Wikipedia open while you do. Stuff like the BSG Reboot or the eleventy-seven seasons of StarGate is all full of cultural allusions for people to feel clever about getting.

When you catch some wink-and-nod-sentence you think you probably were expected to associate with something else, but didn't, then google the phrase and you're good to go.

Something like this might help you short cicuit the process.


You're in good company. I have to do the same thing.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Kaido
Mar 15, 2003
12,502
33
91
TO be honest, I took it as read that the issue was more about class than race. But feeling alienated can take different forms, and an individual can interpret it in different ways, if there are multiple possible differences available to focus on, one might initially perceive it as being due to any one of them.
Bingo. I used to think everything was about race but the older I get (and the more amazingly successful indian people I see) I'm realizing it's more class and the culture I grew up around. White, hispanic, whatever - put me in a room of plumbers (my parents were civil servants) and i know the humor, topics, etc. It's higher brow american culture that I'm having a difficult time penetrating (and I'm *certain* that my financial situation can improve if I expand my network being in sales, so I feel like I have to).

To get really personal I'm also obese and everyone in nyc seems so tiny to me these days. I don't whine about it because it's something I know how to fix, but just to let you in on my layers of insecurities.
 
Mar 15, 2003
12,502
33
91


If you're into nerdy shit, just rewatch some Sci-Fi and have Wikipedia open while you do. Stuff like the BSG Reboot or the eleventy-seven seasons of StarGate is all full of cultural allusions for people to feel clever about getting.

When you catch some wink-and-nod-sentence you think you probably were expected to associate with something else, but didn't, then google the phrase and you're good to go.

Something like this might help you short cicuit the process.


You're in good company. I have to do the same thing.
thank you, appreciated. I think note taking is also a real thing i have to do, track my knowledge acquisition. haha.. but really, i hear the people who say "be yourself," the truth is somewhere in the middle i think
 

HomerJS

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
22,679
7,265
136
So I know this is going to come off as anywhere from ironic to racist, but I sincerely don't mean any of this as negative - I view *MYSELF* as the ignorant one.

Being quarantined I've been thinking a lot about stupid things and one thing is my inability to keep up at white mid-to-upper class gatherings. I work real estate (clients range from students, bankers, to that one dutch billionaire), dabble in diy film, and my wife is impressive with her multiple masters and her future phd. - networking is kinda important and we often socialize with aspirational /educated nyc/brooklyn .. The problem is that my Jamaica Queens (hood) born self gets lost in conversation so often that I feel really self conscious because I don't get the references, I haven't read that particular book, nor have I heard that one album EVERYONE seems to know the lyrics to verbatim. .. I feel like a big dumb gorilla, and just close up and keep to myself. When it's a slightly educated crowd (my wifes a teacher and her friends are arty but not snobs, good people) and the jack kerouac quotes are thrown in with bob dylan quotes and.. my inner city schooled brain just implodes. I'm ignorant, I'm not viewing anyone as being wrong in this equation but me - I used to think they were pretentious but you know, I want my kids and family to benefit from knowing those people's kids and not be dismissive, upward mobility and all.

So school me.. Is there like a list of authors, musicians.. cliff notes (Anthology books?), magazines to read.. just shit to read up on in my covid free time to be a little less ignorant and deers in headlights when some cultural reference from 20 years before i was born comes up, that EVERYONE else seems to know about. It's often so weird to me that a 22 year old will finish a joni mitchell lyric from 1967, it's almost like it's keyed in their dna. Note my wife is white, her annoyed response is always "we just grew up around it!" I want a list! hahaha
Books would work but maybe don't beat yourself over the head

Maybe make a game of it. Get with you wife a play some games of trivial pursuit. You'd be surprised what you'll pick up not pressuring yourself.

If you are ever at one of these things don't be afraid to change the subject. Example, if it happens next week bring up The Last Dance. I'm sure there would be some basketball fans willing to engage. Nothing wrong with intelligent talk about pop culture.
 
  • Like
Reactions: highland145

skull

Platinum Member
Jun 5, 2000
2,101
274
126
Bingo. I used to think everything was about race but the older I get (and the more amazingly successful indian people I see) I'm realizing it's more class and the culture I grew up around. White, hispanic, whatever - put me in a room of plumbers (my parents were civil servants) and i know the humor, topics, etc. It's higher brow american culture that I'm having a difficult time penetrating (and I'm *certain* that my financial situation can improve if I expand my network being in sales, so I feel like I have to).

To get really personal I'm also obese and everyone in nyc seems so tiny to me these days. I don't whine about it because it's something I know how to fix, but just to let you in on my layers of insecurities.
As borderline white trash I get it, I don't fit in either but don't mean I can't get some rich fuck to open his checkbook to pay for an ac. People need housing just like they need heating and cooling. Definitely lose the weight, obesity is disgusting and you need confidence not to get obscure social references. I embrace my hillbilly-ness and just make references they probably don't get either. So just be who you are and let the confidence show through or try to be someone else and let the nervousness/weakness show through.
 
  • Like
Reactions: pcgeek11

pauldun170

Diamond Member
Sep 26, 2011
6,382
1,533
136
So I know this is going to come off as anywhere from ironic to racist, but I sincerely don't mean any of this as negative - I view *MYSELF* as the ignorant one.

Being quarantined I've been thinking a lot about stupid things and one thing is my inability to keep up at white mid-to-upper class gatherings. I work real estate (clients range from students, bankers, to that one dutch billionaire), dabble in diy film, and my wife is impressive with her multiple masters and her future phd. - networking is kinda important and we often socialize with aspirational /educated nyc/brooklyn .. The problem is that my Jamaica Queens (hood) born self gets lost in conversation so often that I feel really self conscious because I don't get the references, I haven't read that particular book, nor have I heard that one album EVERYONE seems to know the lyrics to verbatim. .. I feel like a big dumb gorilla, and just close up and keep to myself. When it's a slightly educated crowd (my wifes a teacher and her friends are arty but not snobs, good people) and the jack kerouac quotes are thrown in with bob dylan quotes and.. my inner city schooled brain just implodes. I'm ignorant, I'm not viewing anyone as being wrong in this equation but me - I used to think they were pretentious but you know, I want my kids and family to benefit from knowing those people's kids and not be dismissive, upward mobility and all.

So school me.. Is there like a list of authors, musicians.. cliff notes (Anthology books?), magazines to read.. just shit to read up on in my covid free time to be a little less ignorant and deers in headlights when some cultural reference from 20 years before i was born comes up, that EVERYONE else seems to know about. It's often so weird to me that a 22 year old will finish a joni mitchell lyric from 1967, it's almost like it's keyed in their dna. Note my wife is white, her annoyed response is always "we just grew up around it!" I want a list! hahaha
I have Family and friends in NYC across tons of sub cultures and professions.
Your racial background is not an excuse. Maybe your cultural background handicapped you.

The issue is that you appear to be behind the curve when it comes to intellectual curiosity and you are now dealing with that awkward phase.

The proper way to handle that is to ask questions to those who drop the references.
That's how "conversations" happen.

If you want a head start, asking a bunch of weirdos on an obscure tech forum is the slow way.
Just use google
Top 100 most influential books\music\films\figures

Learn about the the people who have influenced American society and then check out some of their output.
Some of those figures are influential for good reason that goes beyond surface.
 

IronWing

No Lifer
Jul 20, 2001
59,055
11,189
126
LOL
Can confirm...

Stuck listening to a couple of 20 nothing -30 something wine snobs battle it out dropping references to whatever winery in South Africa vs Argnetina.

"Shit gets you drunk, good enough." usually takes care of the alcohol snobs (drunkards).
 
Mar 15, 2003
12,502
33
91
I have Family and friends in NYC across tons of sub cultures and professions.
Your racial background is not an excuse. Maybe your cultural background handicapped you.

The issue is that you appear to be behind the curve when it comes to intellectual curiosity and you are now dealing with that awkward phase.

The proper way to handle that is to ask questions to those who drop the references.
That's how "conversations" happen.

If you want a head start, asking a bunch of weirdos on an obscure tech forum is the slow way.
Just use google
Top 100 most influential books\music\films\figures

Learn about the the people who have influenced American society and then check out some of their output.
Some of those figures are influential for good reason that goes beyond surface.
100% When I mention my family I'm explaining not blaming (I'm an adult, gotta make the changes myself) - my parents were highly educated but worked 24/7 in safe public service jobs. moving to neighbors in the middle of white flight didn't help either, my references were all hip hop and ghetto until high school and Nirvana (back then didn't even have napster for self discovery).

I guess my angst is that some of the culture I'm experience seems innate - like my wife can listen to public radio and just sing along to some song from 30 years ago while for me to have that recall I'd have to do some serious studying to catch up. Like 90s+ "white" culture I have down pat and that took a lot of studying to know about pixies beasties linklater tarantino when my surroundings were tupac and biggie (my motivation then was that I found white girls cuter because they didn't remind me of one of my 30 cousins, I don't really have that immediate motivation now). I say all this acknowledging it's intellectual laziness on my part. I'm an up tempo guy (love metal and am educated), the old stuff causes yawn BUT I know it's important to be aware, I know I have to try harder.

thanks for the googling suggestion, I am totally making a google doc of all recommendations made here and will do my own research. I post here on a nerd forum because i think you guys can empathize with the social anxiety I face, even though it comes from a different place perhaps.

Thanks for this thread guys, keep posting suggestions i have tons of time to read. As far as my body image being a part of the equation, I 1,000% agree and am working on it. To be completely frank, I've never met a successful fat salesman (maybe in IT?), if I can't manage my own body I can't expect people to trust me with their money (or housing). Def. a priority now that i have all this free time
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
44,293
2,082
126
when cornered, I fall back on 'The Princess Bride' quotes.
On a tangent, I met Prince Humperdinck at TerrorCon not too long ago. He's not acting in the movie. He's just a really regal dude IRL, no joke.

masks.jpg
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
25,335
1,305
126
So I know this is going to come off as anywhere from ironic to racist, but I sincerely don't mean any of this as negative - I view *MYSELF* as the ignorant one.

Being quarantined I've been thinking a lot about stupid things and one thing is my inability to keep up at white mid-to-upper class gatherings. I work real estate (clients range from students, bankers, to that one dutch billionaire), dabble in diy film, and my wife is impressive with her multiple masters and her future phd. - networking is kinda important and we often socialize with aspirational /educated nyc/brooklyn .. The problem is that my Jamaica Queens (hood) born self gets lost in conversation so often that I feel really self conscious because I don't get the references, I haven't read that particular book, nor have I heard that one album EVERYONE seems to know the lyrics to verbatim. .. I feel like a big dumb gorilla, and just close up and keep to myself. When it's a slightly educated crowd (my wifes a teacher and her friends are arty but not snobs, good people) and the jack kerouac quotes are thrown in with bob dylan quotes and.. my inner city schooled brain just implodes. I'm ignorant, I'm not viewing anyone as being wrong in this equation but me - I used to think they were pretentious but you know, I want my kids and family to benefit from knowing those people's kids and not be dismissive, upward mobility and all.

So school me.. Is there like a list of authors, musicians.. cliff notes (Anthology books?), magazines to read.. just shit to read up on in my covid free time to be a little less ignorant and deers in headlights when some cultural reference from 20 years before i was born comes up, that EVERYONE else seems to know about. It's often so weird to me that a 22 year old will finish a joni mitchell lyric from 1967, it's almost like it's keyed in their dna. Note my wife is white, her annoyed response is always "we just grew up around it!" I want a list! hahaha
I'll offer this. I just started a book that's fantastic and I'm 100% sure you can totally relate to it. If you haven't read it, I strongly suggest you read it. Yes, I'm white, but I was born in Manhattan, have spent 93% of my life in urban CA, live in Berkeley, Ca, which is culturally and ethnically extremely diverse.

The book is Inner Engineering, A Yogi's Guide to Joy, the author being Sadhguru. He grew up in southern India. He explains near the beginning that he was not very socialized when young and had difficulties understanding conversation. I think his perspectives will help you. He's incredibly enlightened. The book is very easily understood. I'm sure he wrote it in English, it's not a translation, educated Indians are generally strong in English and he actually majored in English literature for a time.

I was in my 20s in the 1960s. I'd likely get the Dylan quotes. I'm not that strong in Joni Mitchell. I'm not the kind of person who would feel comfortable in all party situations, for sure. Partly because my hearing isn't so good. Anyway, I'm pretty sure you won't regret reading that book for a second.

 

ASK THE COMMUNITY