Everyone’s addicted to something. No one’s happy. Everybody hates each other.
Everyday, I wonder to myself: “how the fuck did we find ourselves in this mess?”
As I said in Part II, there’s a disease polluting the mind of Americans. I don’t know what it’s called. I only see the symptoms.
We’ve allowed ourselves to become overstressed. We decry sleep. And we continue to chase empty pursuits. The biggest lie ever told was that we have to have dreams, and those dreams must consist of owning a home, having a successful career, have a nice vehicle, etc etc. We’re told to be better than the guy next to you. And those dreams are becoming harder to achieve…and we are miserable because of it.
I don’t know how to fix the problem. I doubt the solution lies in better public policy. I only know what I plan to do differently…if only I had been given the advice when I was younger.
Clearly, I can’t change the past. But hopefully younger generations can learn from our mistakes and create a better world.
Here’s what I would tell my younger self:
Go to college because you want to. Not because someone made you feel like a piece of shit if you didn’t go.
This is an obvious one now. With thousands, if not millions, of people buried under student loan debt, college just doesn’t seem worth it nowadays.
Just a decade ago, this wasn’t so apparent. Then, it was still considered a wise investment.
But even if college was still considered a “wise investment”, would I still advise myself to go? Unlikely. Truthfully, I didn’t want to go. It didn’t even cross my mind to go until I heard a speaker guilt everyone into submitting an application somewhere. I just graduated from high school. I HATED school and was relieved when I graduated. Then I was persuaded to return. Did I know what I wanted to be? No. I was 18 and ready to party. For me, I wasted pivotal years stressing over nonsense. I should have explored the world and figured myself out…not spent it at various institutions writing papers about subjects I didn’t care about.
Do you want the “college experience” minus the bullshit that comes with it? Join the military.
I bring this up because my biggest regret is fumbling my military career. The older I get, the bigger this regret becomes. Had I of given it my full attention rather than being distracted by college, no doubt I could’ve been a great soldier. It’s too late for me now, but don’t have those regrets.
If you know what you want to be and have a passion right out of high school, then fine…go to college. Or if you have a passion that doesn’t involve college, DO THAT instead. But life can’t be experienced at some sterile brick and mortar school. Life can only be experienced by living it.
But if you don’t have passions…that’s okay. You don’t have to have shit figured out by the time you graduate high school. You have your whole life to figure it out.
If only we told high school kids this…
Beware of sociopaths
A very obvious piece of advice.
BUT, this was a very REAL problem for me when I was in my 20s. It was such a problem, that I began to wonder if I was a sociopath.
Truthfully, I was just a weak-minded fool. I placed a little too much emphasis on the opinions of others. That makes one a magnet for sociopaths to infiltrate your social circle and fuck up your life.
How to avoid it? I guess, don’t be a weak-minded fool! But if at any point you have to ask yourself “is this person a sociopath?”, it should be alarming enough that you even have to ask yourself that. Just walk away.
I’m not quite sure how this fits into the “creating a better world” theme…I guess we should just find value in ourselves and not rely on others to provide that value. But I’ll let you figure that one out.
And speaking of “just walking away”….
Just say NO to social media
I wish we could stop pretending that social media has been a positive influence on this world.
Well, let me backtrack…has there been good brought about because of social media? Of course. Does that balance out the overwhelming negative that its created? Absolutely not.
Social media activism is ineffective. I’ll go one step further and tell these activists that the reason why everyone hates their movement is because they use, almost EXCLUSIVELY, social media. Why? Because it allows you to essentially be an armchair activist rather than confront the problem face to face. It reeks of insincerity. It dehumanizes your opponents. And it’s nowhere near as effective as having a conversation with someone that disagrees with you. If you want to implement real change, you go out into the world and you ACT.
The complexities of issues can’t be conveyed in Tweets. And the narcissism that Facebook, Instagram, and others foster run counter to your movement. Want a platform to present your issues? Create a blog or website.
Now that I got that off my chest…the reason I’d tell myself to stay off social media is that it wasted so much of my time. It’s such a misuse of the internet. Hell, I could’ve succeeded in my first few years of college had I not got stuck on Myspace.
Remember that shit?
But you think that everyone is so concerned about the stuff you post. And they aren’t. I’m not kidding…no one cares about your selfie. They’re all too concerned about their own selfie. But this is the state of human interaction: what happens online is more real than true tactile contact.
And these websites love that shit. Less time you physically spend with loved ones is more time you spend on their website. They know that there is nothing more we love than ourselves, so they convinced us to invest more time in our online persona.
And we’ve convinced ourselves that people’s online personas are true representations of that person! So we compare our lives NOT to an actual person, but to some idealized version that that person created. So we’ve become discontent with our own lives because our friends are seemingly happy with their expensive car, house, golden retriever, and supposed “six-figure” income. What we aren’t seeing is that they are probably going through the same struggle you are.
I’d advice my younger self: those hours you spent on Myspace and elsewhere are hours you can’t get back. You weren’t interacting with real people. You were interacting with a fake version of that person. If you want true interaction, a genuine connection with others, you must look at them face to face.
If we want a better world, we must first get offline.