My friend Christian, who is about a decade older than I am, has spent more than 20 years accumulating thousands of rare garage-rock records. And she gives great parties, schlepping her vinyl to and fro in a vintage carrying case. Meanwhile, another friend, who is my age and works at an ad agency, makes decent money D.J.’ing with songs he downloads to his laptop; once a month I make a quick buck or two doing the same. The difference between Christian and me is that I know the provenance of roughly only half of the songs I play, and I live in fear that some eager fan will approach the “D.J. booth” (that is, the counter with my laptop on it) hoping to nerd out on some performer that I only just heard of that day via YouTube. I fear that person because I used to be that person. And I know how much the old me would have hated the current me’s guts. But this guilt immediately washes away when I play the latest Azealia Banks song and everyone goes nuts.
My quarrel here isn’t with the idea that cool people don’t know as much about stuff as they used to. If you really want to drill deep into your interests, you still have that option. You just have to accept that most of your findings will have no social value.