"Continental Weirdness"

If you think about Antarctica or see pictures from there, then it may seem a bit weird to you. At least for me that is the case. I recently looked at pictures from Herbert Pontings Antarctica Album and I greatly enjoyed them but something just didn’t seem right to me, something was off but I couldn’t quite grasp it. After that realization, I was interested and proceeded to look at the Antarctica Wikipedia Article, were I found some interesting stuff for example that Antarctica has its own Internet Domain (.aq), that it has not rained there for over 2 million years, that it has the highest average elevation of all the continents or also that 80% of the worlds fresh water reserves are found there. In relation to our climate Antarctica is kind of a big deal. But even when learned more about it, the whole weirdness of the continent would not go away. It felt like this polar desert wasn’t supposed to be there, to be on my mind.

This has a lot to do with how our society operates, how we are socialized. Growing up we learn a lot about how our society operates and how we fit in it. Not on a large scale but in relation to what concerns us in our day to day life, how we act in certain situations. This process extends well beyond our childhood but the first years and our teenage life sort of build a fundamental understanding. We learn that it is acceptable to do what other people are doing, that it is acceptable to talk about stuff which other people talk about, that it is acceptable to concern oneself with stuff that other people are concerned with. Everything that falls out of what is perceived as normal is seen as weird because not enough people are doing it. We learn that being perceived as weird is not a good thing and that bad things will follow being perceived as such, for example alienation from society and bullying as a consequence and a materialized version of society telling you that you don’t fit in. A lot of people, and I am certainly no exception, internalize this way of thinking in them. If other people are doing it, it’s ok for me to do it to, if other people concern themselves with this thing than it is ok for me to concern myself with this thing to.

If I would grow up in a society where everyone just keeps talking about Antarctica, where everyone is fascinated with this life threatening polar desert, where scientist that travel to Antarctica would be seen as national heroes, where everyone aspires to conquer Antarctica as the last bastion of uncertainty, then I wouldn’t even spend a second thinking about this continent as weird, maybe as mysterious and interesting but not as weird. I think about it as weird only because Antarctica isn’t really a theme in our modern society or culture. Our brains rarely seem to think outside of normality and when it does it often has internalized that it is wrong in doing so. In reality there is nothing wrong or weird with Antarctica. It’s just not something that is on our mind a lot. When you acknowledge this, the feeling that Antarctica gives you becomes refreshing, like a break from the themes of modern life and media.

14,200,000 square kilometres, why is no one talking about this? Even though Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia we rarely hear about it, unless you are a big brained scientist or something like that. Antarctica is rarely a theme in current media and culture. We rarely see a movie that takes place there; at best it is some kind of animated movie about a penguin. You would say: well the mass of a continent has nothing to do with its importance or how often we interact with it in media, there is nearly no person there and not a lot is happening there why would we talk about it?

We often think about the content of our media as something democratic, as something that exists because it is the most interesting and relevant to a majority of people. But that’s not the aim of modern media. The aim is to create profit and collect as much data in the process. So if you take anything away from this Article it should be that you should maybe think twice about if the things you concern yourself with are really that relevant and important to you or if there are maybe non-beneficial reasons why things are on your mind.