You don’t have to be a star…
As I sat on the verandah yesterday thinking about this and that, the book title came to mind… A title I have always loved, ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Marquez. Alas it is a book that I attempted to read and had to abandon, maybe because I did not have the will to be silent myself and immerse myself in the words of one so gifted and generous and magical in his writing but I have gifted myself my own personal copy which I will attempt again, this time successfully, to read from cover to cover. It is silly of me to like a title without having read the book but the point is, it is a great title. It makes me think of how noisy we are, the way we live, noise and uproar and no real substance. Of course I am not as generous or sophisticated in my thinking as great writers like Marquez but it is precisely because of that artful ‘eye’, the gift of imagination, the generosity of spirit, that writers like him exhibit, that I smile when I read in my feeds, on blogs, etc those who so easily refer to themselves as writers, thinkers, religious brokers, self made experts on every subject.
I am writing my first book. I wish! Hats off to you I say. The fact is we all do have our stories to tell. The trick is can you write a story that is honest and humanizing without ‘lovely you’ as the central theme? Everything takes time. The fast paced growth of social media has thrown up so many forced-ripe would be experts that it is normal for us all to refer to ourselves as hands-on experts in artistic and intellectual pursuits that we have no real development of craft in. Vive la Internet. I believe there is an imbalance and that perhaps not shutting up, or putting away our soapboxes, or stopping our pretences, is one of the reasons why fantasy and wilful ignorance reigns rather than reason and thoughtfulness. Solitude is an old-fashioned pursuit, a relic of ancient times. Nobody wants to be alone, when they can turn their hand to blogging, or posting their life story on social media. Imagine you can be a self proclaimed writer, photographer, life coach etc, in just about anything you want to be through the digital age. And many will herald this sudden uprising in self anointed expertise as being good for us, democratizing the world, making it a more equitable place, where pedestrian thinking and emotional clap-trap becomes the topics of inane discussions. Of people engaged in the wholesale selling of themselves as being ‘writers’ or whatever expertise they think they have. Noise.
I cannot imagine a more displaced view of what is often touted as ‘progressive’. The Internet is full of charlatans, of sales people selling their own brand of nonsense, only this time around, their audiences are more gullible, less informed and sensitized to instant gratification, all of which is what social media platforms are about. Easy access to manufactured emotions.
Thought is boring. Especially if you want to be someone in the digital world with hundreds of followers. You have to be seen to be a seller of much needed ‘goods and services’ and this is why, to give a good example, the ‘pied pipers’ of religious zeal are popular. The Five-minute Chefs, the Sinners who have now become Saints, the Stylist with their touched up imagery, the Fashionistas with their endless photo shoots, the Yoga experts with their top of the line leisure wear, the travellers and their niche markets. And then there are those with other ‘needs’ like wanting to be told how to ‘live well’, or how to eat right, how to be a perfect wife or mother or lover or how to get over your lack of discipline, the list goes on and on. Every topic is a potential sales plug and/or topic that needs someone’s expertise. Essentially, there are many out there who have convinced themselves (and others) that they are the one-trick ponies that can do all of these things. Feed the masses and feed off the masses. A win-win situation for the self anointed experts. You have to master the art of selling. Selling ‘your unique fabulous story’…about life and living. Since when did human beings become so pompous and so seemingly sure of themselves? Is Instagram, WordPress etc along with the site producers of memorable quotes and memes on every conceivable subject and human emotion, that infests the Internet collectively the cause of this swell in the millions of self anointed priests and priestesses, newly arrived God lovers, new age nutritionists, lifestyle experts….that have become the modern ringmasters of the digital circus show otherwise known as social media?
I remain baffled by the show of grandiose thinking and what could only be described as digital madness. I believe in the power of thought, not driven by prescribing what we think people need, but by describing the feelings, thoughts, emotions, challenges of being human. What is really in your heart? What drives you? Is becoming a ‘blogger expert’ all that you seek so you choose to make mundane small talk turn into some commercial success for you? Isn’t some knowledge of writing, ie technical and intellectual skills, the nuts-and-bolts a pre-requisite for writing well?
I ask myself too…..why are so many people fearful of life, they would diligently go about creating fantasies or so called ‘truisms’ about the mystery of life and packaging and selling it as they do. Why are so many claiming to seek God when they already act like ‘Gods’ pronouncing judgements on others, invoking self righteous clap-trap in their views, wielding harsh recriminations on those who differ from that which they know and consider to be ‘right’? For me, having fear at times is part of living, just as hope, or faith. Why would I want to demand or expect fit-all models of thinking to be a cure for what troubles me during different stages of my life? How could I grow if I know all the answers? What is wrong with being unsure of situations we may find ourselves in from time to time?
I marvel not at the gloss and glitter that many try so hard to put out in public but the capacity for BS that they so easily slip into, all for the sake of some inner need that would be better serviced offline, in quiet reflection, in meaningful private conversations with oneself or with others. Reflection. Solitude. Self growth is a slow and arduous process. It is not a show-and-tell for social media. Its real value to you as a person, is that it is and should be intensely private. If you are showcasing your self progressed expertise via your ‘personal growth’ out there rest assured you still have far to go and your journey will really only start when you decide to stop acting and just be…whatever that is.
As the saying goes….self praise is no praise and remember there is a thin line between self promotion and self belief.