We need to talk.
You’re not going to like it.
Here’s the deal.
Jobs. Careers. Homes. Stability. Healthcare. Money. Stability. Democracy. Civil rights. A planet. Freedom. Meaning. Purpose. Happiness.
FaceTinder. UberDrones. Watching people play videogames. Selfies. LOLcats. Friending. Tube videos. Free porn. Pawnshop reality TV. The Latest and Most Kardashian Kardashian. Butt implants. Scandal. Outrage. Titillation. Cosmeceuticals. Made-by-the-lowest-bidder-slave-labor-sweatshop-shit. #OMG. #WTF? #IDK.
What do you spend most of yourself on? Where do most of your passions life? What do you invest most of your attention, energy, and ideas in?
The stuff on the second list.
You are trading the stuff in the first list for the stuff in the second list.
What the fuck is wrong with you?
Maybe you can’t change the world. It’s true. Not of all us can — and not all of us should try. But you can…be a functioning human. Am I suggesting you call your congressman, your MP, revolt in the streets, become a dreadlocked hippie and organize town halls no one comes to because you smell like the 1960s? Nope. But I am suggesting that wasting your life on bullshit is…the greatest of all bullshit.
If all your life amounts to is the pursuit of the Perfect Selfie, the Greatest High Score, the Largest Number of Mega Awesome Totally Fake Friends — congratulations! You’re a proud member of Generation Stupid.
The world is literally falling apart. We will be lucky if this decade doesn’t end in great catastrophe. Because the last time the world got stuck on the express train to nowhere, the passengers started fighting each other…to the death.
Let’s face it. We do the stuff on the second list because we’re afraid, anxious, worried. Deep down, we know things are going deeply, badly wrong. Socially, economically, culturally…spiritually.
Who wouldn’t want to escape the world? Who wouldn’t want to run away, into the immaculate digital arms of the most beautiful lover who ever was? The one that never challenges you, frightens you, hurts you? The one that tells you ”love” is whatever you want to be — as long as it’s a “profile”, an “avatar”, a “choice” from a dropdown menu.
Are you serious? Is that all you are? A being made of…bullshit?
You’re in pursuit of a deity that looks like Venus. A goddess of pure love. But she is an illusion made of bits and digits. And you must look back, not up. For then you will remember. No one ever won their freedom by looking to the contemptuous gods for salvation, instead of in their spirits for liberation.
That is precisely what courage is. Not the absence of fear. But the overcoming of fear, despite the surety of pain. Damn me if you must, the courageous say. I am damned anyway. If I cannot.
Generation Stupid. I love you. But you have to learn to love yourselves. Not in the naive, foolish, hopeless, cynical way you have been taught. That love is merely the “freedom” to take whiz through in a theme park chugging shots of designer digital esctasy while the world smashes itself into oblivion. So that all traces of the real you are obliterated. To love yourselves in a truer sense. To learn that there is not just more to life than all that — there is no life in all that.
You must learn to love yourselves as people who share the same obligations all human beings do. To make the most of yourselves, and live extraordinary lives.
Here. Now. At this very moment. In the place you stand. Not inside the screen, as a machine, a programs, an instruction, a profile, a counterfeit, an image. A helpless, less than human thing…that is…merely executed, stored, performed…processed.
All that…shit…? It’s just noise in the signal. Of what? Of life.
Imagine if I took a picture of myself, smiling coyly — while the world burned right down to an ember behind me. It would be the Perfect Selfie. For I would surely be lord and master of all. Everyone would know how cool I was. Look! Umair doesn’t give a shit! The fucking world’s burning down…and he took a selfie!! Damn…that dude!! He’s so cool!! What cojones!
But what would it be worth? Even the most Perfect Selfie in the world would just be noise. In the signal. Of life.
It would get me no closer to an extraordinary life. Just as extraordinarily wasted one.
That is every person’s challenge. To have the courage to be the signal. The lighthouse. The fire. The spark. The true north. Not merely to reduce one’s self to noise. To futility, oblivion, nothingness…meaninglessness...emptiness…a glitch at the end of the world…fizzling out into…bzzzt.
Courage, Generation Stupid. Courage. That is the truest miracle of all, for it is the only one there is.
Man is the weakest, the most laughable, of all the great beasts. He is hairless and small, clawless and slow. And yet, man may face a lion, in his very den. And conquer him. By, first, conquering himself.
Running away will never bring you a step closer to the life you were meant to live. Not a single aching step. Only courage can. That is what it has always taken to live. For life is not merely given, or taken. It is earned. With tears and sweat, suffering and grief, wonder and beauty, perseverance and grace. And so it can also be wasted.
Don’t waste your life. Live an extraordinary one. Say it with me.
Damn me if you must. I am damned anyway.