Culture, Alienation, Boredom And Despair

Humans are a ridiculous species. We long for and need love, acceptance, and intimacy and yet we work hard to keep a barrier up. We form a defence against being fulfilled and find ways to resist the very thing we are seeking.
The video below is funny, but highlights a reality in us. We are the most anti-social, social animals on the planet. Like the image, we keep our heads down, protect ourselves from the world, and miss everything going on around us and those who dare stick their head up stick out like a sore thumb. Many of us spend our days in a culture that offers nothing but alienation, boredom and despair.

We live in a world of opposing demands. We want to fit in, but fitting in takes away our authenticity. We want to be authentic, but being authentic may make us different. We want to be individual and different, but our differences mean we don’t fit in. We are in a cycle, and one of these things has to change, but which one?
I generally resist fads. I hate those motivational posters (the ones at despair.com are good though), and really, really can’t be doing with cheesy corporate speak. There is however one phrase I do hear a bit and like – “Be the change you want to see.” The world won’t change unless we do.
Here are the three takeaways for today:
1 – Don’t be afraid of strangers who say “Hello.” You don’t have to invite them to dinner, but smiling and greeting them back won’t break your spirit.
2 – The world may seem grey and dreary, it may seem unsafe, but you’ll never know anything but loneliness if you don’t take down the umbrella.
3 – If you have been chasing happiness only to find misery, try authenticity for a while. Be real with yourself and others. What is there to lose?
Almost 100 years ago Edward Bernays convinced us that we should all be seeking to fulfill our emotional needs, and since then culture has been sliding into a dark hole of individualism and isolation. In chasing temporal happiness we are finding misery and we lack fulfillment. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Which is worse, being the only one to raise your head above the sea of umbrellas and having a chance of seeing others, seeing colour, seeing life, or being the only one under an umbrella, staying in the shadow, staying safe, and missing out on everything around?
If you’re wondering where the title came from, it’s from this:

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Picture credit: Shot from the video for Motorcycle Emptiness by Manic Street Preachers

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