Why are you Taking Yourself so Seriously?

We’re all winging it so stop pretending you know what you’re doing

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

If we were honest, we’d admit we haven’t got a clue about how to be a human in the world.

In fact, we devote most of our waking hours to blundering our way through life, one failure at a time. And many of us seek to replicate what others have done because we simply can’t be bothered figuring life out for ourselves.

Our fondness for the path of least resistance explains our insatiable appetite for productivity hacks. We want shortcuts to success that would dispense us from doing the work because we are, by nature, both lazy and entitled.

We want it all, we want tomorrow today; our impatience and greed empower instant experts whose niche of knowledge is often no vaster than our own. The only difference between those self-styled boffins, mavens, and gurus and us is that they’ve found a way to monetize ignorance.

None of us don’t know what we don’t know but that doesn’t stop us from admiring those who choose to elevate mediocrity to unignorable levels.

And turn it into a business, a brand, a product.

Disclaimers protect us from ourselves and others.

And a clever tagline can exonerate even the most ignorant of us from accountability as long as we invoke the alchemical powers of authenticity.

Ignorance is repackaged as honesty for maximum reach. Who doesn’t love an epic tale of misery sprinkled with cringe-worthy confessions that has our eyeballs glued to the screen? And makes us feel better about ourselves in comparison?

As human emotions become commodified and used to sell us anything from five star hotel stays to breast pumps, misery mongering pays. It works because it taps into universal human insecurities and our shared need for reassurance. It works because we’re often unaware we’re being sold to stealthily. AI doesn’t pick up on it; most humans don’t even pick up on it.

Therein lies the value of ignorance: we can exploit it without having to exert any particular kind of effort.

Pick any human shortcoming, commiserate in short sentences with simple words, throw in a few text speak TLAs, and you have a hit. That you’re not saying anything new doesn’t matter; an audience lapping up truisms day in, day out is seldom a discerning one.

Being an adult is hard, life is unfair.

Woe is me.

Why are we so reluctant to think?

The human brain is plastic, it has the capacity to work through some of the most complex issues with a little curiosity and a little focus. But instead of educating ourselves, we’d rather squander our attention on being entertained.

Look no further than our cultural references for confirmation of this. When we quote TV shows with the same reverence as philosophers, we’re complicit in the global dumbing down process. In a reality where Donald Trump is president of the United States, what more evidence of our intellectual decline do we need?

In this context, taking ourselves seriously requires such a high level of self-delusion it leaves little room for change. Or discovery that could spark growth, evolution, or at minimum some kind of insight about the human condition.

Nope. Too. Much. Work.

Instead, we gorge on platitudes to assuage the horror of our shared insignificance as we continue to covet fame and fortune. We demand validation and recognition for the fact that there’s nothing remotely remarkable about us.

Rather than attempt to push through our ignorance, we turn ourselves inside out online and sell off our privacy piecemeal. One hackneyed narrative at a time, we furnish our respective echo chambers and seal our minds shut.

Slowly, solipsism takes over our life and nurtures the illusion that we matter.

Until one day we wake up old and alone, trapped in overused lies that no longer feed our outsize ego, our life bereft of love, meaning, and purpose.

And none the wiser even though we never logged out.

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.

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