REM was one of the most respected indy rock bands. You’d think that a group that somehow managed to thread the needle between whatever authentic means to them and huge popular success could walk away from traditional measures of who’s up and who’s not…
In a long-ago Rolling Stone article, lead singer Michael Stipe said that he had never heard a song from Mariah Carey and in fact had just learned how to say her name. There’s a difference between focusing on your lane and denigrating the others in your field.
In the same article, bandmate Michael Mills expresses disappointment that even though they recorded at Prince’s studio in Minneapolis, he never stopped by to say hello or even invite them to the party on Friday.
Turtles all the way down, turtles all the way up.
High school persists.
It’s possible to use the status hierarchy as a sort of fuel, a way to motivate yourself to push a little harder. But it is also possible, and far more resilient, to use connection and possibility as fuel as well.
The best lesson of high school might be that everyone has a noise in their heads, everyone feels uncomfortable and everyone would appreciate a little kindness and respect.