I was posed with this question by my wife. I find myself to be a contrarian. I am in good company. However, I find that my contrarian nature can take me down two roads–genuine reflection or cynicism. I imagine, for most of us, we aren’t contrarians–we are just cynical. Let me give you some examples:
When you are in middle school, and trying to be cool (but you’re not; you’re just awkward), you are often a contrarian when it comes to your parents. Mom and Dad say, “We’re going to Disney World!” You love Disney World. You can’t get enough of M-i-c…k-e-y, Mmmm, Oooo, Uuuu, Sss, Eeee (=”Mickey Mouse” for the lazy reader)! But you’re in middle school. You can’t like mouses with four-fingered white gloves. So you say: “Psshh. Disney? Whatever. I’d rather skateboard.” But you have to say it. Otherwise, you won’t be cool.
Fast forward several years, you’re in college. Everyone loves Twilight and wants to buy the books, see the movies, and find a soul mate like the Vitamin-D-deficient dude on the posters. Yet, here comes big, bad Ms. Contrarian: “Pssh. Twilight? Lame. Whatever. I don’t say, ‘movie.’ I say, ‘film.’”
Or even, Coldplay comes to town. Oh yeah, you find yourself jammin’ to “Viva la Vida” when it comes on the radio. But when your chillin’ with all your friends who love Bon Iver and smugly pronounce “Bon Iver” properly with Frenchy-French smugness, talking about life-after-death, you wouldn’t be caught dead expressing: “‘For some reason I can’t explain, I know Saint Peter won’t call my name’ too.” Instead, Mr. Contrarian raises his dirty head and says, “Pssh. Coldplay? Whatever. Have you heard of [insert weird Swedish folk-indie-ska band]. Now, they’re cool.”
Now, is being a contrarian genuine?
But I am willing to bet, most times we are contrarians for contrarian-sake.
I think we are afraid of being exposed as normal.
Like everyone else.
In agreement with the Billboard charts.
Being an American consumer.
Being a liberal/conservative/fundy/hippie.
I know I’ve done this. I know I’ve shot things down, said I didn’t like something, pretended to be something I wasn’t, just because I felt I was supposed to be a contrarian. And aren’t contrarians the ones who say, “Why is everyone like so fake all the time, you know?”
Being a contrarian is pretty cool. But, to be honest, it’s not always genuine.