Your experiences are not everyone elses

Why do we assume our experiences are the same for everyone else?

A writer at the Washington Post asked John Wall about Jon Bon Jovi who was sitting courtside at a Wizards preseason game in Toronto.  Wall had no idea who Bon Jovi was and older (and white) sports writers were stunned at this.  Why?

NC State is going to have a really good basketball team this season and was picked by the media and coaches to win the ACC.  At the league’s basketball media day in Charlotte this week, UNC basketball player John Michael McAdoo was asked about the rivalry with State.  To paraphrase, he said Duke is our rival.  Not State.  That led to older sports writers, to wonder how could that be.  Again, why?

John Wall was born in 1990 and Slippery When Wet came out in 1986.  John Wall’s life has been centered on becoming an NBA basketball player from the time he was 12 years old probably.  Why would he have ever heard any of Jon Bon Jovi’s biggest songs, and why would anyone think he would have heard any of those songs?

James Michael McAdoo was born in 1993.  NC State Men’s Basketball has not won an ACC Championship since 1987; they had not been to the NCAA tournament during McAdoo’s existence on this Earth until 2002; they last won a national championship 20 years before McAdoo was born.  During the same period Duke won 10 conference championships, went to 5 Final Fours, and won 2 national championships.  If you are a UNC player, student, or recent graduate, who would you think was UNC’s biggest rival?

Human beings are self-centered jerks.  Never more so than when we (in the US especially) make cultural references.  It seems impossible that someone didn’t know about this great album/movie/television show/book that we loved when we were younger.  It was everywhere, how could you not know about that.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand that there are hidden worlds and pockets of life that have not been invaded by the ubiquity of the internet age media.  It is hard for egotistical humans to understand that within a short drive of their front door, there are people who live a life totally different from them.

This isn’t even about race, class, or gender.  Take two people from the same part of a town who graduated in the same class in high school and went to the same college.  Those two people could have two completely different college experiences.  Not only will they take different classes, they could eat different food, watch different movies, and listen to different music, and if you asked them at the end of four years, they may be shocked to see how the other person has changed.  Yet and still they would each still think that they had the definitive college experience.

Just because Jon Bon Jovi was pervasive in your lifetime doesn’t mean it was for everyone else.   Just because you can remember when NC State basketball was great doesn’t mean it is for someone much younger then you.

Look, I am old enough to remember it and the UNC/State rivalry is just as important to me as the UNC/Duke rivalry.  That is why I think what McAdoo said has a real element of trash talk.  It just makes it so much better that it is true.

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