Meet your maker

Column by Allison Borthwick, Opinion Editor

We are most definitely a product of our environment. And by “environment” I mean “popular culture.” And by “popular culture” I mean “the superficial aspects of society we gravitate toward.”

Popular culture is not a phase, mom. It’s a lifestyle.

According to Stacy Takacs, author of “Interrogating Popular Culture: Key Questions,” popular culture refers to “what people do with the resources provided by the cultural industries and institutions in their society.”

What we’re doing with these resources is integrating them into our lives, making them synonymous with our identities.

Our opinions, tastes, styles and even our words are nurtured by the nature of trends, fads and viral sensations. Even if you’re one to defy anything with mass appeal, that’s trendy now too.

You didn’t hear of them first. You didn’t like that before it was cool. Your anti-establishment persona is an establishment of its own.

Nobody is safe.

When someone is trying to get to know you, they ask questions about your favorite movies, music, TV shows and books – all pieces of popular culture. Why? Because our lives revolve around these things so extensively they end up defining who we are.

You are what you eat, after all.

I’ll be the first one to admit that more than 70 percent of the nonsense that flies out my mouth is “Mean Girls,” “Ace Ventura,” “Bridesmaids” or viral Vine quotes. Any original thought is some genuinely ridiculous thing my brain decides is OK to say to normal people.

Speaking of self-deprecating humor, that isn’t anything new or undiscovered either – it’s trendy and funny. All the uncool kids are doing it.

This is a very roundabout, cynical way of saying the utmost cynical thing: we’re not special. It’s the #NoFilter #NoMakeup #UglyBetty truth.

We communicate in hashtags and acronyms because that’s what popular culture dictates we do, IDK why. We use reaction GIFs and memes in casual, public online conversations instead of words. We express our feelings in tweets and Facebook statuses and seek to escape them by blasting music or watching movies with relatable plot lines. We get adrenaline rushes from watching horror movies instead of actively seeking adventure.

No matter what we do or where we turn, popular culture has us in the palm of its hand.

Is this terrible news? Is being defined by popular culture a bad thing? Are we doomed?

Not necessarily.

We have the friends that we have and we are attracted to the people we’re attracted to because of popular culture. Similar likes and dislikes bring us together.

The foundation of some of my strongest friendships rest on a deep love for Shonda Rhimes shows. I dated someone for years that reminded me a lot of Chris Pratt’s character in “Parks and Recreation.” More than half the time I can’t communicate properly with the people in my life without using a Beyonce reaction photo.

I know what I like. You know what you like. Let’s get together and like things together.

We’re only here for a short time. Who cares if the things we like are just that – things.

To quote Aziz Ansari’s character in, you guessed it, “Parks and Recreation:” “Love? Love fades away, but things last forever.”