I think we all feel it sometimes: your friends are talking about something that they really enjoy, and you have no idea what it is. Or you know what it is, but you haven't experienced it or followed it, and so you can't join the conversation.

Most of the time it's not an issue, but what if it's a constant feeling? You keep feeling that you've missed out on something really cool, always playing catch-up with the hot trends.

Of course, not everything "hot" is really that good, or is even worth your time. I still vehemently refuse to read anything by Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code), because what passages I have read seem very hack-like.

But there is often some great stuff out there that I know I've overlooked in the past, and it really makes me feel out of touch, not able to join the conversation my friends are having, or have had in the past. It's getting annoying that I always seem to be late to the party.

For instance, I am currently catching up on Buffy: the Vampire Slayer.

People were talking about it all the time when it was on, but I just never bothered. It sounded kind of cool, but it didn't draw me in to the point where I sat down and actually watched it while it was on. Now, I have 144 episodes to watch (I'm currently 18 in!). This is all part of the whole Joss Whedon thing. In fact, there was a very heavy Whedon presence at V-Con this year that pushed me over the edge into finally watching Firefly. Again, a series that I had heard so many raves about but just never watched. I rectified that very soon after V-Con was over. But it was a conversation that I had missed, and was still missing.

I'm getting that feeling with The Walking Dead, too. So many of you on GIO were talking about it, my friend (and podcast co-host) was talking about it, but I just never watched it. Finally, after talking about it on our podcast one more time, I decided that since it was on Netflix, I would watch the 6 episodes of the first season.

And I was hooked. I missed the first two episodes of the second season, and want to watch those before watching the rest, but the DVR is set to record subsequent episodes.

The guys on Talk Radar have been talking up Community for a while now, and it sounded like it might be a funny show. After the last reference, and noticing that the first season is on Netflix, I decided to give it a try.

And laughed my ass off.

Then there's A Game of Thrones, the HBO series based on George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice & Fire" series of books. I did record all the episodes and have watched the first few, but my friend has constantly talked about it, my boss loved the show and just recently plowed through the first four books, so it was a constant presence. I decided I needed to get those last few episodes watched.

Then, of course, there's video games. I had an abbreviated gaming history up until the early 2000s, only playing a few PC games in the meantime. When people start reminiscing about the glory days of the PS1 and all of the Nintendo consoles, I have no frame of reference because I wasn't gaming then. I listen to a lot of gamers talk about gaming in general, and their history, and I sometimes feel totally out of the loop, recognizing the passion and pleasure that is behind all of the talk, and knowing that I will never share it. Gaming, unlike TV shows and movies, you can almost never catch up on. Sure, you can maybe find one of the old consoles for cheap, or maybe a friend has one, but it's never the same. You're coming at it from an older perspective. You've been jaded by the "modern" graphics, storytelling, whatever. While truly great games will always shine through, many of the pleasant memories of games would probably be overshadowed by lame graphics or gameplay if you actually went back and played them now. Coming into it cold, with none of that old experience, would just make it worse.

That out of touch feeling is why, as a consumer, I really hated how many great-sounding games came out this Autumn, and usually every Autumn (though I never remember it being *this* bad). In my "Tough Gaming Choices" blog, I mention the choices I made to stay sane this year (I've never bought four brand new games like I did this year, and there could have been so many more). All of my choices were later in the year, and thus I got to watch all of my gaming friends talk about the glories of Arkham City, Gears of War 3, etc, while I watched. At least I can join the conversation on the games I did get, now that they're out. I did feel out of touch during September and October, though.

I guess the main point I have in writing this blog is to vent a bit, and to just suggest that this is a feeling that can be avoided, at least sometimes. You can't buy every game that comes out, unless you're rich or something, but then how do you play them all at once?

You don't need to follow every trend and hot topic that's out there in order to feel like you're part of the broader pop culture. There aren't enough hours in the day, and some of it is truly crappy no matter how popular it is.

But if you do get that feeling, and it does sound like something you would enjoy, don't wait. Don't get lazy like I did and say something like "I don't have time for that" (unless you truly *don't* have time, of course). If it's intriguing to you, watch it! Play it! Experience it! Don't just say "if it's popular, I want no part of it."

Doing something just to be part of the crowd is never a good thing.

Yet I would put forward that *not* doing something just to *avoid* being part of the crowd is also not a good thing.

Sometimes, avoiding something popular just makes you miss out on something that you would truly enjoy.

And having to catch up to it after the fact really, really sucks.