You know the Bible story about the Tower of Babel? In short, all of mankind spoke one language. We were so great at communicating with each other that we worked together to build a tower so tall, it could touch heaven. God looked upon the tower and said, with an amused, contemptuous eye roll, "Pfft! Yeah. OK ..." and made us all speak different languages, resulting in horribly translated movie subtitles.
New Line Cinema
Everything in the world of pop culture has its own built-in language filled with references, shorthand, gestures loaded with meaning -- all that stuff. Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding. Did you understand what I said there? If you did, it means you are fluent in Breaking Bad. Maybe you speak Firefly fluently ("Big damn heroes, sir"). Or BioShock ("Would you kindly ..."). Or Michael Bay movies (explosion sound).
That's where pop culture peer pressure stems from. If you want to understand your friends' conversations for the next couple weeks, you need to be able to keep up with whatever morsels of pop culture they've recently taken in. Their conversations about things you haven't seen yet will sound like the gibberish of someone about to have a stroke. Or they'll go the other way. You'll be the child the parents need to speak in cryptic code around. Friends will act conspiratorial around you, giving each other knowing nods and glances. They'll speak in short, vague sentences to not ruin anything for you. Maybe they'll even walk away from you to speak in secret like a bunch of dicks. All you want is to talk to people, but they don't want to talk; they might spoil something. If they do talk, you're a pop cultural foreign exchange student who never quite knows what the fuck everyone is laughing at.
It's easier navigating Mexico speaking only Level 1 Spanish
than navigating a house party speaking only Season 1 Game of Thrones.
If all of this is making pop culture a pain in the ass to enjoy, there's a simple solution: Walk away from it. Walk so far away that you end up outside of your home. Stay there a bit. While there, do things that have nothing to do with saturating your brain with the stories other people tell. Make your own stories. Maybe one day you can write them down so some other media-saturated fools can fry out their brains with them.
Luis Prada has 329 unwatched movies in his Netflix queue and 16 unplayed games on Steam. You can find him on Twitter and Tumblr, and he's a columnist for Man Cave Daily.