Make time to keep up with the Joneses

The+Goodwin+street+entrance+of+the+Krannert+Center.

Patrick Li

The Goodwin street entrance of the Krannert Center.

By Krystyna Serhijchuk, Columnist

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STEM major, painting major or anything in between, making an active effort to become culturally literate is definitely worth your time.

If you don’t, you risk demonstrating absent-mindedness to everyone around you, wallowing in your immaturity in not keeping up with society.

A clear benefit of cultural literacy is that by understanding and participating fluently in a given culture, your social mobility increases as you’re able to comfortably converse with people around you, including employers and professors, about issues happening in the world.

Additionally, a more indirect benefit also exists. Cultural literacy expands your creativity.

Creativity stems from forming new ideas by connecting existing concepts. These ideas don’t need to be grand or revolutionary, but they must be new.

Steve Jobs hit the nail on the head when he said:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

How well we create depends on how much we know. And we can’t solve problems without knowledge.

Being fluently aware of the nuances of culture, from references to past events to culturally-conditioned allusions, adds to one’s mental toolbox of existing concepts.

The knowledge of whatever meme is popular right now, or whoever you must absolutely be following on Twitter, is expanding your creativity and problem-solving skills.

You don’t need an impressive IQ to be creative, as creativity goes beyond the intelligence frame. Your ability to make seemingly random connections between concepts is what matters.

Making an effort to remain or become more culturally literate is important. Understanding society well enough helps you value it. You’re bettering yourself by pursuing new experiences and knowledge and remaining present in society.

Keeping up with film and art, for example, helps us better understand where cultural values and principles currently lie. Through this we can better understand how society is improving, changing and advancing.

A certain amount of cultural literacy is demanded in today’s world. No one looks forward to being on the periphery of a conversation about the meaning and importance of a movie scene you haven’t personally seen.

So if you have time, maybe watch that movie you overheard the two people next to you in lecture discussing eagerly, or pick up that book your ex-boyfriend once passively recommended.

Krystyna is a junior in English.
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