Mass culture is going through the most important rebirth of modern times.
Not everyone is strong enough to realise that they’re just not special.
I feel sorry for them. Those people still clinging to the idea that their life will ultimately mean something. That it has a purpose. That the universe or humanity cares much one way or the other what they do with their time here.
What a burden!
I think the “I’m special” mindset might go down as one of the shortest-lived cultural phenomena in history.
It’s a relatively new thing. Up until the television age, it was pretty much just kings and queens that suffered from the delusion that what they did mattered. That they were divinely selected for a life of special destiny.
Nowadays, that delusion is available to everyone. We mass produce it.
Our stories used to be about heroes – demi-gods effectively. Ulysses. King Arthur.
But with books, then cinema, then television, our stories became about everybody. They became ‘common’.
And that’s a great thing. Except that it sent the message that we could all be the heroes of our own movies. And we consumed that message, over and over again.
And so it became an affirmation. “I am special. I am the hero of this story. What I do totally influences how the story plays out. Everybody cares.”
We didn’t even realise we were buying into it, but we bought it hook line and sinker.
And having set up this unrealistic expectation, we then became miserable when the movie of our life kind of sucked. How’s that Fight Club quote go?
“We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”
But I think we have now passed the peak of “I’m special”.
The internet makes information flow far and wide. It is incredibly hard to maintain the illusion that you’re special when you understand your tiny role in a population of 8-billion.
Even if you are one of the demi-gods of the moment – a Mark Zuckerberg or a Jeff Bezos or a Vladimir Putin – if you’ve got any sense of history you’ll know that you’ll have the world’s attention for the briefest moment.
We have all seen stars burn and then flame out. Whatever happened to Britney Spears?
And so in just a few years, you’ll just be another footnote to history… if you’re lucky.
And the rest of us won’t be remembered at all.
But don’t be sad. This is a delusion. The sooner we bury its sorry corpse, the better. And if the internet helps make the delusion untenable, then we should be grateful.
We are not special.
You are not special.
Ooohh. I know. Sorry. I know it’s a hard thing to hear.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that we are nothing but a brief and transitory clump of galactic compost, we cling to our belief that we are special like a drowning sloth clings to the timbers of a shipwreck.
I know this. As a blog writer. As a marketer. Nothing sells like, “you’re special.”
I could join those American guru’s with their “you’re special” sales pitches. I could join them pumping people up – “you’re special, you’re important, you’re going to change history. The school children of tomorrow will memorise your name and put your face against quotes you never actually said. “
But I never have and I never will. (Probably cost me a million dollars over a lifetime.)
Because it’s just not true. And nothing will make you more miserable than clinging to the idea that you’re special.
It’s such a heavy burden.
You want to know happiness? You want to know lightness? Let it go. Let go of the idea that you need to do or be anything.
Be ridiculous. Be silly. Be humble. Be insignificant. Be inconsistent and confusing to people.
Just don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t let the pressure of living up to some historical ideal distract you from the joy of living the life that is simply yours.
Live to make yourself happy, not get written up in a history book.
Let your own joy tell you you’re on the right path, not the roar of the crowd.
Do things because they’re fun, not because they ‘matter’.
The sooner you can let go of the idea that you’re special, the sooner you can start living a life you really love.
Be strong. It’s worth it.