In the grand scheme of things, nothing matters. Whether you wake up tomorrow morning or not; whether you’re happy now or not; whether you went to work today or not; whether you’re making an effort towards reducing your carbon footprint or not; whether you consistently diverted a share of your earnings to charity or not; whether you’ve succeeded in saving our planet or not; whether you finally reached enlightenment that always seemed 1986 miles away from you or not.
We come and go. The only two events in our lives that remains solid irrespective of how our life turned out to be. Rest of our oxygen is spent in a mad pursuit of being relevant. A cockroach can survive without food for weeks. Humans can survive for a few days. But the prime difference between a cockroach and a human is in their thirst for relevance. Both the species are survivors, no doubt, but the methods are stark. A human, regardless of his backdrop or pursuit, tends—or at least pretends — to strike relevance in a society. Wherever he is and whatever status he is enjoying or suffering, he’ll fill up on his required potion of significance with respect to others.
The rumoured ladder in the corporate world is an example of how climbing and kicking can be synonymous. People treating each other nicely or people being shitty to each other both portend to our basic instinct of staying relevant. They say god works in mysterious ways. Well, certainly not as mysteriously as we do in the modern era.
To understand this phenomenon better, look at how stories function nowadays. Whenever there’s a news report of a football club fans making a sweet gesture for somebody from the club, focus on the ingredients. Cause, that is. The effect can’t be measured anyway. Each one of us wants to be a part of something bigger, something great, and something that will add value to our existence. It’s nice to beckon individuality but when you zoom out, most of us are always going to take the easy way out. The relevance of groupism is undisputed. All the crests, all the flags, all the anthems, all the slangs and all the scarfs prove the effectiveness of a mob in getting seen and heard. What more do you want?
Moving away from the crowd and returning to the individuals, things aren’t very different actually. Everybody from a writer to a director to a musician to comedian to a politician to a mediaperson… each desires to stay relevant anyhow. They’ll do everything within their capacity to be appreciated. A writer can write a book to satiate himself but no. That’s not how the game of relevance is played. There’s a reason you’ve got to be there in the open and present yourself as well as your work to absolute strangers and be judged in return. It is ridiculously dehumanizing but the rewards are quite edifying. Or so they claim.
In the narcissistic age where we live in, no amount of filter is enough. JD Salinger wrote one book and vanished. Yet, we talk about him 66 years later. He managed to achieve relevance despite his reclusiveness. Not everybody is as gifted. An overwhelming majority of our fellow beings are cursedly mediocre and would rather scratch each other’s back than touch the surface of truth. Which is also why we see we witness so many celebrities who are popular for their popularity. They don’t possess quantifiable talents. In fact, their relevance is a rigorous product of media manipulation. The same is true for the social crusaders of our times. Quite a lot of them make the fight about themselves instead of making them about the fight. It’s almost as if their cause will crumble if they don’t get the credit. A fight for relevance, if you may. Reminds you of a famous quote from Wag the Dog (1997): “Fuck my life. I want the credit.”
Yes, it’s a bit sad but not entirely. Things are changing as always. We are evolving and so is our behaviour. Thankfully, in the grand scheme of things, none of this shit matters.