Our culture has a fascination with heroes and heroines, rebels, and misfits. We glorify them in pretty much every movie. They are the ones who save the day, who shake things up, who complicate the story and make it interesting.
Over the course of history, our society has begun allowing and making it possible for more and more individuals to make a lasting difference in this world. Any individual in the US can now start business with the possibility that the business that will become famous at the scale of millions of knowing people. Celebrity has become a kind of shared economy and meritocracy in itself, with the widespread use of social media and Youtube. Anyone can post a video to Youtube, and if they are interesting, have value to add to the community, and are unrelenting in their efforts, they can quickly become rich and famous.
The age of entrepreneurship is booming, and the many pioneering it can be described as daring, determined, and creative individuals, the successful of which are also adding value–copious amounts of it. The competition for value itself is unprecedented. Let me give an example. There is a market teeming with competition for websites that claim to teach you how to become successful at hosting on Airbnb. Success itself is exponentially growing, with many piggybacking on the success of others to the extent that demand will allow.
There is something fascinating happening in our world today, and that is the turbulent balance between creation and consumption. Each of us has one foot in each, but some are determined to capture success, to live deeply and meaningfully, or to rebel from everything everyone tells them they should do to live deeply and meaningfully. The less you consume and the more you create (either for others or yourself), the more of an individual you necessarily become.
Beyond this growing relationship, there is something else interesting happening here. Many pursuing fame are doing so in shallow, easy ways: perfecting their comedic vines, getting 20k followers on Instagram, and selling out by writing how-to ebooks on how-to-be-successful.
These people I believe are not unapologetic “individuals” in the sense I previously described. Their fame is like delicious, gooey, triple chocolate cake everyone jumps for in their moments of weakness only to completely forget about the experience a week later. They won their game, but their game exists within the confines of a very limited amount of time.
What I want to focus on here is the heroes and heroines, rebels, and misfits. We all seem to take a stance towards them: we either want to be them or decidedly do no want to be them. Conformity is oh, so sweet. The feeling that you truly belong is a christmas by the fire, opening presents with your dear family kind of feeling. There is a price to pay for everything, however, but for many that price isn’t a loss that really pains them.
Those that want to or can’t help but be them, however, have a more difficult road ahead of them. The thing is, no one can escape their instinct to desire the sense belonging. The heroes and heroines, rebels, and misfits must know themselves very, very well. Because since they can’t find their places in the world, they must make their own places. They have to create their own world and build their own bridges. All of us have at least a little of this spirit in us. The sooner you realize that life is generally what you make it, the better.
Once again, the world is creating more and more individuals and people desperately trying to forge individuality. Two things are in opposition to this: the comfort and pressure to conform and consume and the overwhelming competition amongst the creatives.
I believe the greatest thing anyone can do for both themselves and the world is to rebel without disengaging. Even the protagonist in Mr. Robot, an anti-social, anxiety-consumed addict and skilled hacker decides he wants to do what he can to change people’s lives for the better. This makes him more interesting, it makes his life more interesting, and he gets to actually interact with other human beings. Regardless if your endeavors are geared toward fame and fortune or if you’re a misfit tucked away in your mother’s basement, life gets a lot more interesting for the former if they rebel and a lot more interesting for the latter if they engage. As long as you welcome the price you pay, the world we are living in today welcomes you.