Ever have repeated exposure to obscure bits of culture?

I have no idea how to explain this so it’ll fit in the thread title. Here’s what I mean.

Ever keep running across the same or related cultural phenomenon? Not like being bombarded by the current pop culture. Here’s an example of what happened to me. I was reminded of it in the cold beer warm beer thread.

Singha beer. It’s Thai beer. I was reading a book (Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robins. Awesome read.) that flashes back to the protagonist’s prior experience in Thailand, and how he used to drink Singha. Never heard of it at this point. Shortly thereafter, I’m listening to the Pogues, and their song House of the Gods has the chorus “Singha beer don’t ask no questions, Singha beer don’t tell no lies.” Odd, there’s that beer again. Then, my friend Amanda goes thrift store shopping, and while showing me her purchases pulls out this cool old beer shirt- that’s right, it’s a Singha shirt. Finally, Amanda and I go on a whirlwind tour of England, and the only time we have enough money to eat in a restaurant, we go to a Thai place, where I am finally able to try Singha (and I do like it rather a lot).

I’ve had similar experiences with Elvis (started with a purchase of hair clips with Elvis’ picture on them, included my friend naming her cat Elvis among other things). I even had an Anschluss day at work once (Holocaust museum, so not totally unusual): the day I learned what Anschluss meant (Nazi annexation of Austria), everything I dealt with that day (books to review, etc) seemed to be Anschluss-related. I remarked to a friend, “I’m having an Anschluss sort of day.”

I’m sure there’s a bit of selection bias at work here, but it’s still an interesting coincidence. I mean, a person who’s not really into Thai food and never goes to Thailand could go their whole life not hearing of Singha beer, but once I first heard of it, suddenly I was surrounded by Singha references (this was all in a very short period of time, like a matter of months). And when it happens, it lasts a brief period, then disappears. Like Singha- I only come across it when I seek it out now, like when I go to a Thai place or specialty beer store. I haven’t noticed any references in movies, music, or someone wearing a Singha shirt since that brief period years ago.

Ever happen to you?

You work at a Holocaust museum? Obligatory link to this Onion article, then.

The phenomenon you’re describing happens to me a lot. It usually involves some obscure band, and more often than not, it also involves totally random things popping into my head and triggering me thinking about the thing in question. Like, I’ll have weird trains of thought where I’ll see, say, a frying pan, which will make me think of a PAN-da bear, which will make me think of the band Animal Collective. And then later I’ll hear a song by Animal Collective on the radio. And then later in the day someone will play me that same song by Animal Collective. I’m always amazed by the coincidence when stuff like this happens.

Worked, actually. Rather stressful job, as you might imagine. Perhaps since I had a similar experience, that Onion article is… not as funny as their other articles. At least I could retreat to my office and didn’t have to spend all day in the gift shop or admissions desk (unless the volunteers didn’t show up). Anyhoo…

I think everyone has this happen to them from time to time. A recent instance I experienced was notable for its timing: I was waiting for a TV programme to come on, and thought I’d start reading a book I’d picked up at the library that afternoon. I read the foreword, and then before Chapter 1 there was a page with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

I thought that was interesting, because Wilde does get quoted an awful lot, yet I’d never seen that particular quotation before. I didn’t get any further into the book than that, though, because the programme I wanted to see was starting. It was Criminal Minds, which (for those who haven’t seen it) begins each episode with a member of the team quoting a writer or philosopher in voice over.

Within two minutes of the show starting, Gideon was saying “Oscar Wilde once said: ‘Man is least himself . . .’”

I believe that is called the salience effect. One has a tendency to notice the repetition of a certain thing, once that thing is in one’s awareness. It’s like being pregnant and noticing all the other pregnant women. They were there all along, but their pregnant state wasn’t important to you at the time, so you didn’t notice it.

I read a lot of historical fiction, and this happens to me a lot. I’ll read about some person or historical event that I’ve never heard of before, and suddenly I will begin to notice references to it everywhere.

Ever have repeated exposure to obscure bits of culture? Yeah, I shower every day.

I really need to clean the tub.

Yes. (Click through to the whole thread for more explanation).

It’s been called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, and I posted a similar question a while ago, but nobody seemed to think it was odd.

Happens to me all the time. I was telling my boyfriend about truck balls, and he did NOT believe me. We had to go to the website. (In fact, he went to three websites selling truck balls. I wonder about him sometimes.) I hardly ever see the things around - maybe I’ve seen one or two in the wild. The day after I told him about them there was a set in front of me on the way home! In camo! And I couldn’t get my phone out fast enough to take a picture!