Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

VIEWPOINT: Embrace All of Your Niche Interests


Do you know who James Bowie is?

I doubt it.

My friend knows who he is from his 7th grade “Texas Revolution” class. He’s one of the Americans who died in the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. 

Do you know who David Bowie is?

You probably do. My friend doesn’t. 

He also doesn’t know about the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Pink Floyd or Jimi Hendrix. 

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for a moment. 

He might recall Lady Gaga from a Supreme Court case he read about two years ago, even if he isn’t familiar with Shakira, Madonna or Adele. He doesn’t listen to music besides when he’s in the shower, and his brain operates differently from most of ours.

Now, my friend may be an exception. It’s a little difficult to not have heard of the Beatles, regardless of upbringing. He also just learned about matcha two weeks ago. He’s got some catching up to do.

But I admire people whose minds work that way: people who retain information selectively based on what they want to remember or care about. General knowledge and pop culture jargon may simply not be of value in their lives.

I don’t like the default expectation that people should have a basic knowledge of topics that have no real importance in their lives. It’s like demanding that everyone in a foreign country should know English. 

In a world inundated with information, the most valuable basis for one’s thoughts is not general knowledge or external sources like artificial intelligence or Google-able information. It’s original thinking, like it has always been. If that original thinking involves some lack of knowledge about things that don’t directly concern you, I think that’s perfectly acceptable — as long as an open mind accompanies that lack of knowledge.

In the realm of human experience, there’s a limit to how much information and experiences our individual minds can take in. Because of the very fact that there is a limit, I argue that everyone should embrace the deep cuts that they’re into. Chances are there are people around you that don’t know remotely anything about some of the things you know about by virtue of your sheer personal interest. 

Ignorance is an underrated virtue. It’s the free space in the brain that allows for people to think in an original way.

I will admit that I still do not know how to ride a bike well or parallel park effectively. I’m working on it. 

I could talk to you for ages about literature or music, but probably not about how to jumpstart a car or replace bike flashers, which are skills that are objectively more useful than anything I can say about Yukio Mishima or contrapuntal melodies.

I don’t think that ignorance is necessary for brilliance or that it automatically means that someone might be more knowledgeable in a certain field. And of course, there are some universal things in life you can’t afford to be ignorant about, like common sense and dignity. 

But there’s something to be said about the direct correlation between ignorance and original thinking — there’s this different way of thinking you can learn from other people’s fixations that you can’t get by absorbing from a secondary source. 

This thinking has to come from within, whether that’s from a personal connection or intellectual desire. Leave behind the other stuff for a moment and really get into your deeper cuts. 

Not everyone needs to know the same things, and that’s what makes human interaction so rich.

You might make another person’s day by educating them in something you really find interest in. 

Let’s do this one more time. 

Heard about Pluto?


My friend has got a lot to learn, but at least he knows about Pluto TV for free movies.

Christina Pan is a first-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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