I have wasted an incredible amount of brain storage for useless pop culture trivia and I fear I will never get it back.
As I approach my quarter-of-a-century life celebration, I’m forced to again wonder how much I can possibly fit inside my brain before other material is pushed out.
Of course, I wondered the same thing in 4th grade and I’ve managed to make room for a decent amount of information since then.
But I can’t help but consider the useless knowledge I’ve racked up in the dusty attic of my cerebrum. 2nd edition rules for Dungeons and Dragons, the proper execution of raids in World of Warcraft, the names, titles, and prior affiliations of bands and artists from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, the entire plotline of Battlestar Galactica… these are all fine details that have proven to be of absolutely no worth in real life.
Unless we are attacked by cylons. Or wizards. Then I’m President, no question.
The unfortunate reality of the situation is that these are all areas of study that were self-chosen. And I’ve decided that there is only one thing to blame: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Well, my incredible affinity for geeky hobbies and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Long before people were just handed a million dollars at the beginning of the show only to waste it away, people actually had to work their way up a frightening ladder of trivia in order to have that beautiful, dirty money rain from the sky like confetti.
Regis would pull the check out after every ladder rung was successfully climbed, just to show the contestant a taste of what could be theirs if only they would walk away.
I watched at home on the edge of my seat. All the answers up to the $32,000 mark were pop culture questions! I only had to watch the most recent shows, listen to the most popular music, and watch the most popular videos to successfully work my way up the ladder to being a millionaire. I spent time committing strange and random facts to memory, like who invented the lava lamp (for your information, it was Edward Craven Walker). I even prepared for the possibility that a friend would need me when they were in the hot seat and practiced strategies for looking up the answer to a random question in less than 30 seconds.
My 8th grade math teacher compounded the problem, by reviewing homework and approaching critical thinking questions with the same rules as the popular game show. He had actually entered to be a contestant and in anticipation of winning a place in the hot seat, he practiced strategies in the classroom. If I didn’t know something, I could phone a friend, try 50/50, or poll the entire class.
That turned out to be a policy other teachers were really not okay with.
Somewhere within the deep, dark crawlspaces of my subconcious, I truly believed that someday I would be called upon to represent the human race and be tested with a vast array of pop culture trivia, after which I would undoubtedly win and sprinkle my friends and family with greasy one dollar bills.
No one ever called.
The popularity of Millionaire began to decline and Regis Philbin bid adeiu. New game shows were introduced that had nothing to do with knowledge. America didn’t want to learn things, it wanted to watch people do ridiculous, degrading tasks for money in one minute or less. They wanted to see beautiful women open suitcases full of cash. They wanted to hook people up to lie detectors and see how much they can be humiliated before their friends and family before they step off the stage.
The Internet boasted information overload, Americans became dumber, and I became obselete.
I have no idea who is on the top 10 list for music or videos right now. I don’t know even one song by Justin Bieber, and I had to google his last name just now to make sure I spelled it correctly. I’m not entirely sure what’s on T.V. these days and I only browse Netflix’s Instant Queu long after popular shows have gone to DVD.
I have become old and oblivious.
If Meredith Viera called me today and asked me if I wanted to be a millionaire, I would admit in the affirmative and then immediately tell her I’m unworthy out of humiliation. I am no match for today’s game show quizzes.
I wish I could do something with that space in my brain. I wish I could go back and fill it with another language or Calc 3 or origami, but I can’t.
I can, however, embrace the new path of T.V. game shows. I can attempt to move three eggs across my kitchen floor only by fanning them with an empty pizza box. I can practice pulling tissues out of a box one by one as fast as possible and by only using one hand. I can speed sort M&Ms by color and place them into separate cups one at a time until I am the grand master of the world at M&M speed sorting.
And so I shall.
Guy Fieri and the producers of Minute to Win It: I’ll be expecting your call. ♣