The "Go Outside. Be Normal." Creed
A Short Call to Action for 2021
Go Outside. Be Normal.
The simple phrase has sat in my twitter bio for months, and I want to explain what it means to me and why I believe it should be a guiding principle.
First, GO OUTSIDE. Stop being Terminally Online. The virtual world has its attractions and perks, but it is a massive engine of alienation and dissatisfaction. Reconnect with family and friends. Enjoy nature. Listen to music (or the sounds of nature) or bask in the silence of a park or forest at night. Do not become so deeply entwined with artificial identities and debates.
Go outside and build communities. Meet new people. I know 2020 made this hard and (probably) much of 2021 will continue to make this hard, but I plead with you to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones after this. The temptation will be to retreat into a kind of eternal para-NEETdom with remote work in your home/apartment and little time meeting others. Do not give in.
And if you have strong beliefs about our world and its degraded character, it is time to take responsibility for them. The whole “don’t blame the players, blame the game” stance can exist in one of two ways:
“I genuinely believe that the game is f*cked but I don’t have the power to change it (hell, I may not even know how to change it) and so I am just going to play the game and get what I can out of it, carving a small section of sanity out of the chaos”
“I don’t want to take responsibility for the fact I am perpetuating a shit game and I just want to take as much for myself as I can, f*ck them kids”
If you’re not a piece of shit, you fall into point 1. But if this is how you genuinely feel, you must take responsibility for the fact that the game only exists so long as the players play it. There is a drive to separate oneself from the game, to distance oneself, to try to claim the game is external to oneself and that one is not responsible for the negatives it brings.
Dostoevsky knew that a rejection of the world as evil, no matter how noble the intentions of that rejection (i.e. condemning the rampant and unjust suffering in the world), would simply lead to a vicious circle of more evil and suffering. Rejecting the world would poison one’s own soul, however noble it may have been. And so, we must embrace and accept the world, in spite of all of its imperfections and evil. We must understand and acknowledge our place within the world, so that we may begin a virtuous cycle of love and care in order to overcome the vicious cycles of suffering.
When one accepts their place in the world, one is simultaneously liberated and compelled. Liberated from the misanthropy and isolation of being “apart” from the world, and compelled to take an active part in improving it. And this active part must be done whole-heartedly.
There is very often a “rush to non-judgment” in many circles today. The idea that “I don’t judge”. This is just another form of the abdication of responsibility along the player-game lines. Either one genuinely thinks whatever is being done is fine/doesn’t care, or one doesn’t believe it is fine and doesn’t want to be socially excluded.
Part of improving the world means presenting a positive alternative vision. This is where the rush from judgment can be so devastating. We must be willing to engage in a critique with construction. We must be willing to call out vices AND offer alternatives. Aesthetics are powerful. Being a paragon of virtue, a role model, is critical to improving the world around you.
And here I extol you again, reject being Terminally Online and instead Be Normal. You will not reach true satisfaction through virtual “accomplishments”. No amount of “owning the libs” or “dunking on conservatives” will satisfy the hole in your heart and soul that only genuine love can fill. True happiness is reached through mutual love and care, through being part of a family and community, through having friends, parents, siblings, etc. who want you to succeed.
Recognize why vices are being catered to, and outcompete/outmaneuver these services. It will be difficult. Our society appears deeply fractured, and the rot has been festering for decades. But nothing is ever truly lost. It is time to reenchant the horizons, to recapture an evaluation of meaning that allows us to embrace the wonder of the world and respond with love.
Do not give in to despair my friends. There is much worth saving in this world. Even in the darkest times of life, hope always exists. Much love to you all.
the more i watch the 24hr news cycle online to try to understand what is happening, the more i suspect that the ultimate result of this chaotic period is that EVERYBODY ends up being terminally online and addicted to social media. the addiction is very real.
there need to be reasons for people to go outside and advertising is the best way.
i think that if you really want to help, a good and realistic place to start is to change the messaging people see when they drive and walk everywhere. pictures of how beautiful the world is, of people being people, all the good things life is about. there is only negativity and the compulsion to consume in advertising everywhere.
then there need to be places to go and things to see and do, which of course is the difficult thing. maybe geocaching needs to become bigger. there's no social distancing bullshit you can really say about that.
Thanks. I needed that right now.
I've been in a nihilistic depression this last week. Most of the people around me are experiencing a manic sense of relief and hope. From my perspective, they are gleefully accepting decline and dehumanization. It makes me sad to see how little they've learned, but I also see how ignorance is bliss for them.
What you say about finding a "positive alternative vision" and living it is a helpful way to view things.