Hello again! It’s been what, 3 weeks? I’ll get to that later.
Bath-time thoughts: Idealism is dangerous and unhealthy. Why? I was watching the latest YouTubers React video. Many of the YouTubers said things along the lines of “Let’s be real, it’s not going to happen.”
And you know what? They’re right. While I was thinking along those lines, I started getting more and more ideas as to why Idealism is a bad, bad way of thinking. To be clear, by Idealism I mean the school of thought that espouses pursuit of perfection and a generally high bar of tolerance for concepts and things. Simply put, I mean that type of thinking where you don’t want to accept something that is not perfect. It is in many ways a direct opposite of the “something is better than nothing” ethic.
The video they were reacting to spoke about putting down your Smartphone and living your life, in the moment or without being reliant on technology etc. Why I don’t like that video is it felt like false advertising to me: They depicted a scenario where a guy asks a lady for directions, and she walks along with him to help him out. They get together and have a life full of wondrous moments.
That doesn’t happen.
While the basis of the message is good – We as a people are too reliant on communication devices (Let’s not use a sweeping blanket of a word such as technology). However, my main concerns are this – they completely negated the beneficial effects of devices. Also, the YouTubers did what all content creators (sometimes, myself included) are guilty of doing – we blamed the medium and not the user. It’s harder to admit that people need to exert control over ourselves than to say that we should get rid of ‘technology’ or that ‘video games are making kids violent’.
As I write this, I’m getting more and more ideas to put into this post. Rather than pick and eliminate ideas, I’m going to shorten my explanation of each or club them together. I’ll explain why later.
Tyler Oakley spoke about Armchair Activism. Armchair Activists are people who share information about a cause on social media or blogging platforms, but usually don’t go beyond that to actively enroll in the movement or cause. Such activists are looked upon negatively by other people online. Why? Because ‘said activist feels like he’s achieved something and is deriving satisfaction that he shouldn’t be.’
This comes under the idealism I have a problem with – wherein a person must go out and enroll in the cause if they support it, otherwise ‘they’re not a true supporter’, or something along those lines. Why not think of it in this way – movements require ever-growing support if they want to be successful. For every successful movement in our history, there have been several that failed, probably because the ‘voice’ wasn’t strong enough. There are already people actively involved in the cause – while me getting my hands dirty with the movement is the greatest contribution I can make, it does not devalue my choice to simply sign a petition on change.org, because at least they have a tangible proof of support that they can use. Even sharing a video on Facebook at least spreads awareness – it at least instigates a moment’s anger against the problem. That anger can snowball in any of the thousands of viewers of the shared and reshared video. If we stuck to the idealistic notion of ‘sign up or go home’, we would be getting far less work done.
Idealism stands in the way of improvement. Let’s take a situation out of a story book – a poor guy is standing in front of a rich but mean benefactor or employer. Our man hasn’t eaten in days. Employer throws a loaf of bread on the ground, steps on it and kicks it towards him. Does he eat it, or does he walk away? Does he satiate his hunger or does he preserve his dignity? Idealists insist dignity is the only thing you are even allowed to think of in such a situation. I feel there is really no right or wrong here. It’s the person’s choice or priority, and our judgment is unnecessary and uninformed (we don’t really know his situation).
Judgment is a big portion of idealistic thoughts. We judge others who don’t make idealistic choices and many of us judge ourselves for not maintaining our own standards. People judging people is the cause of half our problems, including problems of self-respect, self-esteem and behaviour. Judgment of others is why so many of us are not comfortable with who we are. We want happiness and approval from others (and ourselves) and so we deal with expectations, which are often unrealistic, impractical and sometimes just impossible. So we grow in ways that we think gets us approval, both healthy and unhealthy ways – going to clubs and involving ourselves into party culture, working out in gyms or engaging in physical activity to change our physical structure, reading, writing (like myself right now) – any improvement or regression we make is because we seek idealistic standards. We’re never really comfortable.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t grow or improve, or even that we shouldn’t engage in harmful activities (hey, freedom of choice), because even stagnancy comes with its own stigma and judgement. I’m pointing out how I am looking for a way to escape idealistic standards and judgment (whether my own or someone else’s) and I’m unable to find one.
I have a friend who doesn’t subscribe to “Something is better than Nothing”. He strongly sticks to idealistic standards and he wants the perfect solution or none at all. I find that when he takes part in discussions with me and other friends, some of his views are impractical, intolerant, apathetic or simply disconnected, such as his views on “formal education” or “salary men”. While he more often than not makes sense, I feel that he’s ignoring situations where the benefit is more than the loss.
I had a point about hypocrisy in mind, but I’ve forgotten. Sorry.
And finally, “later” is now. Why I clubbed points together is because in the last 3 weeks I’ve experienced a precipitous drop in enthusiasm. I haven’t felt like doing anything productive – writing, reading, drawing, cleaning etc. (I’ve cooked though, so I feel a bit better about myself). The video I shared above resonated with something in me, and I felt a feeling of inspiration I hadn’t in a long while, so I wanted to maximise my output from that, and hence I hurried with this post, because I’ve been beating myself up over stopping my blogging spree right when I had started Writing 101.
Over a series of talks I’ve had with various people, I’ve learnt that I may just have idealistic standards for myself, which is why I write this post. Here are some disconnected thoughts that are floating around in my head:
- I had promised myself and declared that my body and my health would be my next big project and my gut says otherwise.
- I had promised to write about my ‘projects’ and I haven’t.
- I’ve just started my new job, which is awesome.
- I just want to get down to work, but am unable to.
- I haven’t written in forever.
- I thought it would be cool to write all the pending Writing 101 posts and then publish them all together. An idea became a plan, and then an expectation. As a result, I haven’t published anything, and I haven’t written any drafts.
- I’ve been promising myself to look into therapy as an option, and I haven’t done it yet.
I’m not pitying myself here, but I do feel bad about these things on a regular basis, and I don’t feel that I’m being fair to myself but I’m finding it hard to stop. Hence why I wrote this, and why I now have a new tagline for my blog. Now that this is out there, I might feel better about myself, especially if I get some feedback. Please leave a comment below on how this post made you feel – disturbed, concerned, inspired or something else entirely. I could really use opinions other than my own here.
Thank you for reading. 🙂