Nobody Wants to see you Fail
Why can’t decency prevail in our daily interactions with one another?
Why do we so often make a conscious choice to let envy taint how we relate both online and offline?
And why is it that so many of us will go to extreme lengths to defend our being at loggerheads instead of simply having a conversation?
Granted, a conversation takes effort and the willingness to listen to what others have to say to you as well as the confidence to tell them what you need to. For many of us, it’s a lot easier to write and talk at our fellow humans rather than engage them in a dispassionate, thoughtful, and fair manner.
Talking is how we understand one another and yet it may well be a disappearing art in the age of constant interconnectedness. Because conversations are awkward and imply a genuine desire to communicate, understand, and argue our point. But greed and individualism have eroded fellow feeling to such an extent that many of us aren’t even self-aware to start off with.
And without self-awareness, there can be no accountability.
Our perception of reality is askew.
The one technological advance that was supposed to make the world a more open-minded and tolerant place has been hijacked by ego. Instead of using the internet to advance our shared knowledge of what it means to be a human in the world, we are commodifying our humanness. And turning ourselves into brands complete with taglines even though we have nothing to sell.
When did life become an ongoing auction where we willingly line up for inspection and hope to command the most attention? When did living become a global performance designed to yield as many eyeballs and thus as much profit as possible? And when did we start staging our respective predicaments and hamming up pathos to get paid?
What hope is there for compassion when our disempowerment, pain, and desperate search for relief are being used to sell us things? No wonder we’ve become inured to the suffering of others and unable to pick up on distress even when it is staring us in the face.
As long as ours remains the loudest voice regardless of whether we have anything of value to add to the conversation, nothing else matters.
Shutting up others publicly has become a spectator sport.
These days, the internet is the arena where grandiloquent gladiators of all stripes pitch themselves against one another. This is how we build tribes based on shared negative emotions as disagreements get blown out of proportion to feed the outrage machine.
Because controversy pays.
To understand most societal issues and human shortcomings, always, always, always follow the money. What few of us ever consider is that when someone gets paid for fomenting discord, someone else loses out. A society that thrives on enabling greed has no ethics, no moral probity, and zero empathy.
But we don’t have to be unapologetic online and offline ambassadors for that which divides us and blights our exchanges.
Much as gentleness is always an option, so is conversation.
The greater the disagreement, the greater the opportunity for intellectual and emotional growth; self-awareness may not pay but it is a priceless human skill we need to live together and achieve a modicum of harmony.
Alas, many of us do not measure the impact our words have on others nor how destructive they can be, which is bad news for our shared mental health. This can lead us to co-opt polarizing views and a “me, me, me against the world” mentality until we convince ourselves than our peers want to see us fail.
However, only the most manipulative among us indulge in schadenfreudeand actively seek to undermine others.
For the rest of us, it is even worse: We don’t even want to see anyone fail.
We simply don’t care.
Is this who we want to be?
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.