I have a tendency to categorize people. Sometimes just in my head during a lull in lecture, occasionally in a forum that has a readership of over 20,000 people.

For example, in my 21 years of living, I’ve found that all people can be roughly broken into two categories: those who know that Liza Minelli is Judy Garland’s daughter and those who do not.

That may seem like the most arbitrary designation in the history of arbitrary designations, but, like most of my random categorizations, the defining point of difference is truly representative of a larger trend.

In other words, what does knowing that Liza Minelli is Judy Garland’s daughter mean in relation to larger social and cultural perception?

And why should you give a damn?

I’ll admit, knowing this tidbit of a trivia – especially in this day and age – is particularly esoteric. The heydays of both women have passed and I’m almost positive that after reading the two names, several of you thought, “Who?”

So, in the interests of relating to my audience, I’ll give you a more modern example…

All people can be broken into these two categories: those who know the names of the kids on “The Real World” and those who do not.

Starting to catch my drift?

Knowing esoteric entertainment trivia implies a certain kind of connection to the overarching media consciousness. This kind of knowledge goes beyond what most people believe to be the “necessary” points of interest in the lexicon of human experience. Sure, some people may know what it is that Alan Greenspan actually does, but those who know that Johanna is the chick who got arrested for stealing a homeless guy’s flower are tapped into a different level of knowing.

Familiarity with entertainment-oriented trivia suggests an absorption of diversionary media into the day-to-day existence of the knower, i.e., you know this crap because it is important to you.

And why is it important to you?

Well, I tend to think that this kind of socially acceptable voyeurism suggests a desire to be the one observed. We know these things because we wish – in a sense – to be these things. How many people would love to be on “The Real World”? How many constantly complain during marathon viewings of the show that they would be so much more interesting to watch than so-and-so?

In a sense, people know these things because they’re hoping that someone out there is going to want to know these things about themselves.

What does this say about those who are not tuned in to this kind of information?

Well, oftentimes those who are not initiated into the entertainment world are engaged with the knowledge of some other community. For some it is technology-oriented, for some it is political. Everyone has some sort of connection to something larger than his or her self.

All of these connections equal desire on the part of the watcher. It’s just that some people want to be known and watched for creating something that contributes to humanity at large, as opposed to, you know, being known for getting wasted and subsequently getting your ass beaten in the streets of Austin.

So, in reality, my categorizations in this sense are truly arbitrary. We’re all initiates to one community or another and are desires to be a part of said communities are similar.

Oh, well…

I still can’t believe that there are people out there who don’t know that Liza is Judy’s daughter. Come on, people. Get it together.

Daily Nexus columnist Bri Lafond’s connection with the outer world involves kites, telescopes and space shuttles.