Monday, September 19, 2005

The inner children have taken over

If you're under thirty, you were probably brought up with the "celebrate your individuality" bullshit that has plagued been a growing part of our cultural identity. And there are some merits there, encouraging people to not focus on bashing themselves for being gay, interested in birds, having curly hair and whatnot. This seems pretty healthy on the face of it, why spend your life being miserable about an intrinsic part of you.


The result has been a little alarming. Now we have everyone walking around celebrating their own faults, and proudly announcing "that's the way I am, and I'm not changing." Just watch any evicted guest from a reality show. I wouldn't change a thing, they say, I am how I am and if you don't like it, too bad, they opine.

I think people may have missed the point of this cultural exercise in promoting healthier citizens. Because there is a difference between "curly hair" and "being an asshole" in that one is much more of a choice.

So when I hear those words, "This is how I am, and I'm not changing," I sigh, and think how that person has decided to never grow in their life, to never look at their behaviour with a critical eye, and to work hard at embracing their defects.

The result is a bunch of adults walking around acting like children and being proud of it.


t said...

You're right, of course.
My life motto is:
be the best person you can be.
Change what you can for the better
don't sweat what you can't
because it takes constructive energy away from the former.

Anonymous said...

It is a terrible and unintended consequence. I think it goes back to the reaction to the forced homogeneity of the 50's. In the 60's and 70's it was all about individuation. Now people don't want to work together, and why should they change to fit in?

Though changing to make your life a more comfortable and happy endeavor seems like it would be all about the individual, and that is often resisted too.

But change is really hard and uncomfortable at first. So maybe that explains some of it.

The Wisdom of Wislon said...

Here, here!

Celebs love going on reality shows don't they-broadcasting houses must think the public likes to see them in a tight corner and often being horrrible to eachother-I suppose it's all voyeristic.

r said...

Something to think about.

Then again, it's their choice to act like an asshole.

Our choice is how we react to it.

A good friend of mine gave me that advice the other day.

Not that I'm very good at taking it. When I'm faced with rudeness or selfishness or plain meaness, I tend to rant. I just can't understand what makes those qualities a choice some people make.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right, and sad at the same time.

The bunch of adults walking around isn't just a bunch. It's far too many.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

I couldn't agree with you more. As a teacher, I have seen this 'celebrate me at the expense of you' phenomenon filtering down to even the youngest children. Last year I gently told a parent of a child in my class that her son had a problem interrupting both myself and other children. She replied proudly, "But what he has to say is more interesting than the average kid, don't you think? It's just his way."

Anonymous said...

for all those people, I would prescribe a healthy dose of reading "The Four Agreements." Perhaps they'd see the ways in which learning to change means learning to grow, instead of reveling in their stagnation.

MJ said...

It's scary how completely I agree with you and feel the exact same way. Personally I think that society encourages people toward the extremes of individuality because it makes them buy more products. The mentality is due in no small part to the thousands of marketing pieces we experience every single day/hour/minute. Nowadays many people define themselves by what they have, and the individuality-fueled objective is to be always ahead of the curve, break away from the pack, etc.

Great post, Torn!

Joe said...

This is a brilliant, insightful, and funny essay. Of course, it makes me uncomfortable because I now need to reassess my choice to be an asshole. Damn you, Torn.

Anonymous said...

Joel, that story made me groan. I homeschool my kids and one of the women in my group homeschools her kid because she was outraged that in kindergarten he was asked not to extend his artwork beyond the borders of the page and onto the floor. In fact, she told me proudly that their first homeschool project was to paint all over the carpet and then test different cleaning products. sigh.

Anonymous said...

guilty as charged!