A Breakup Letter to All the Culturally Disengaged People in My Life

By Tabitha BlankenbilleR


Dear Blood Relatives,
Friends in Close Geographical Proximity,

I hope that the new year finds you well. I’m doing all right—I assume you’ve been following me on Instagram, so we don’t need to retread well-beaten territory here.

I’m reaching out today in response to the events of Monday, December 21, 2015. I came into work. I met you for coffee. I sent you a text message while I was in the Target check-out line. I was all, “So. How about that Star Wars?” I had my talking points prepared: we could come at this from so many angles! Marvel at the razor edge that J.J. Abrams rides between nostalgia and reinvention. Define what kind of sexy Adam Driver is. Name the implications of intergalatic fascist states on the upcoming presidential election. Conduct BB-8 vs. R2-D2: A Roundtable.

You know what you said? WHAT ALL OF YOU SAID?

“Oh! Was it good?”

“I think we’re going to go on Christmas or New Year’s or something.”

“I hate crowds.”

Do you not understand the societal pact we must uphold? We all agreed as a nation that, from the late Thursday showtimes through Sunday’s last curtain, we would not ruin The Force Awakens’ plot. No Easter Eggs or cameos would be dropped unless you clicked through. We could each gasp, cheer, scream and cry as our most cherished and beloved multi-billion dollar franchise rose from the trash compactor that was George Lucas’s 90’s CGI bender, and then come together like the Whos down in Whoville to sift through our innumerable, swelling feels.

I had so many feels, and you had nothing for me. None of you. I had to jump into random Twitter conversations with strangers three time zones away just to make sure I still had a pulse.

This was a Cultural Moment, people. There was an awakening—could you feel it? NO, you couldn’t, because it was too hard for you to put on pants and buy a ticket to any of the thousands of weekend showings in our city of The Biggest Movie of All Time. You left me hanging slack-jawed on a precipice before I tumbled into our assumed conversation. I was paralyzed by the Spoilers Code of Honor, only able to tell you that “umm yeah it was freaking amazing.” But you have no concept of what that means because this is the same phrase our world describes Item 7 on a curling iron tricks listicle.

Go ahead, whine about how the film was released the weekend before Christmas and you’re really tired and lines to buy popcorn make your eczema flare up. I know, life is hard and you’re not into “pop culture” or you “don’t watch movies” or whatever. This excuse may have worked in the early aughts, but this is a Golden Age of entertainment, an epoch of diversification and innovation in storytelling. Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

Which brings me to my next point. This is hardly the first infraction you’ve raised against our relationship in the past year. I lose count of all the times I’ve referenced the day’s largest trending topic and you stare back blankly, or send me a row of question marks because you don’t bother to learn Conversational Emoji. Do you know how soul-annihilating it is to explain every one of my jokes to you? Jokes that get 11 Likes and 3 Retweets on Twitter?

You don’t get HBO, so you’ve never watched John Oliver and SPACE GECKO is not uproarious to you.

You crack Tupperware jokes when I bring up The Leftovers.

You don’t understand how True Detective Season 2 could possibly be that bad, because you still haven’t bothered to watch the first one.

You’re really looking forward to seeing what happens to Raylan when the last season of Justified gets loaded onto Netflix.

I say “Pied Piper,” you say “creepy fairy tale.”

And yet, you haven’t watched Master of None because they released the full canon of Friends and you’re only up to rewatching Monica and Chandler’s first hook-up.

I tell you that you’re going to be the Peggy in our Schuyler Sisters Halloween group costume next year like SNAP and you’re all, whatever. I don’t have the boobs for Joan anyway.

You DID know that Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani are dating, but only because you actually watch The Voice.

You didn’t understand any of my Cookie GIFs until the fall, when everything fell apart, and now you don’t take any of my recommendations seriously.

I can’t forward you every Jezebel recap. I can’t send you all the @Midnight clips. I can’t listen to another person inform me again that they just found out that Grumpy Cat is a girl. A relationship is supposed to be a give-and-take, but I don’t have any more I can give to your “I’ll have to remember to check that out sometime” face. You’re three years and thirty thousand Tweets behind. It’s as if we’re living in two separate worlds, and I no longer know how to bridge to chasm between my ephemeral literacy and your oblivious presence in the moment. I hope someday we can find common ground at some future juncture, preferably around the new Broad City season premiere. No, I don’t mean Broadchurch. There is nothing more I can do for you.

Tabitha Blankenbiller lives outside of Portland, Oregon with her husband and two cats. Her essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, December, Brevity, and a number of other places. She reviews books for Bustle and Tweets incessantly at @tabithablanken. Her essay collection on food and writing is forthcoming from Alternating Current Press. See more stories and such at tabithablankenbiller.com.