The Me Machine
This world bothers me.
We have become deaf to each other.
In today's age of social media and virtual soapboxes, we have given in to a massive human desire to constantly publish ourselves and to constantly feed the fuel-fire of the Me-Machine.
What's worse than the constant, inane and self-serving technobabble, though, is that we have lost the ability to actually listen to each other and to give someone else the floor when THEY are talking (no matter how painful an exercise that may be).
Here are a few examples of how this Me-Machine has manifested itself in our culture.
1. THE ONE-UP
I can't count how many times I've gone to parties and have legitimately been asked 'So Matt - what do you do?' and upon answering the question, I look the asker in the eye and realize that they are not actually interested in what I have to say - but rather, that they are waiting for their turn to talk.
Recently, I met a mutual friend who was massively built-up as a 'great guy'. When we met, he said something to the effect of 'So I hear you're a journalist' which, in itself, is not even a legitimate question, but rather an I-don't-want-to-sound-dumb-but-still-look-cool type statement. Engaging the conversation, I proceeded to let the mutual friend know that I was in fact a journalist, and that I had had some great opportunities to write, travel and film video for some amazingly talented JUNO-winning musicians from all over Canada.
Before I could even finish my sentence, or tactful thought, he injected a statement which was something to the effect of 'Oh yeah? Cool - I've been all over, man. I've actually been to Europe a few times and my brothers are close friends with the Trailer Park Boys.'
WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?
I'M PRETTY SURE THAT EVERYONE ON THIS PLANET DOES NOT HAVE ASPERGER'S SYNDROME!
How did we get from 'So I hear you're a journalist' to 'I'm now going to One-Up you and show you that I'm better than you'? Do you understand how a conversation works? What happened?
When did honest talk between two interested and engaged individuals become a pissing contest?
Do yourself a favour. Ask someone a question, look at their face while they talk, put your phone away and DON'T TALK UNTIL THE SPEAKER IS DONE TALKING. You might even learn something.
2. SPACE HOGS
Maybe my parents just raised me with some manners, but when I went to public places with my folks as a youngin, I was taught to actually look out for other people and to 'mind your space'.
If you want to see a living, breathing example of how this model has deteriorated, you don't have to trek very far within your neighbourhood to get to the epicentre of slothful self-smoochers; the mall.
The state of the modern shopping mall is in a sickened, decrepit and uber-dark place.
Aside from the weightless, commercial space and pungent plastic smell of the air you suck in amidst the Starbucks and Chapters-chomping churls, the mall is a special kind of etiquette torture.
Do people not see me coming? I mean, I'm 6'1 and 250 pounds but I know I'm not actually invisible. I've seen my reflection. I'm confident that I exist. Can they honestly not be bothered to put away their smartphones while they might potentially walk into a wall (or even another living, human being) or use their strollers (that, by the way, carry fragile, little tiny humans around) like battering rams?
And at the mall, I can't even pinpoint the problem to any one subsection of society. I've actually seen mothers walking through malls, with their teenage daughters a few steps behind, and not only are kids TAW-ing (texting and walking) but the MOTHERS ARE DOING THE SAME THING!!!
It's almost as if the word 'courtesy' doesn't exist today. People blindly careen through the walkways and halls of malls, trying to attract attention to themselves in a frothing sea of other big noises.
Me, me, me.
In the words of the ever-powerful Master Ace, I think we all need to 'Take a Look Around'.
3. THE UNCHALLENGEABLE
This one is probably the saddest and the most downtrodden aspect of our current, Me-Machinery human state.
I'm talking about people who, plain and simple, have a severe inability to take any form of feedback or challenge that comes from a place of concern and love.
Instead, when that feedback or challenge or constructive information comes their way, they see it as an all-out attack on their manchildish, selfish character and they point back at you with all guns blazing.
And what's most horrendous about this type of person is that they find ways to avoid challenge - and they surround themselves with people who only build them, and brick and mortar the walls of who they are at every turn. They erect themselves into meaningless towers of Babel.
But when a real friend - a true friend - emerges from the fog of the detritus that is their two-dimensional life and supplies a very constructive form of help, they then spend every next waking moment shutting the helper out.
Because, as they see it, this person is not loving them - but providing a form of threat to their usually-always-sunny, self-serving and half-man consciousness.
You want to grow? Here's an easy way to start:
WHEN SOMEONE CALLS YOU OUT ON YOUR BULLSHIT, TAKE IT AND GO THINK ABOUT IT BEFORE YOU RESPOND.
What's the worst that could happen? Sure - maybe that friend is an asshole - but maybe, just maybe, they actually care about you - and hell; they might even be right.
“This time is a really important time for you guys because nobody knows who you are, and nobody should. This is not a time to promote yourself. It doesn’t matter. This is the time to get your stuff together. Promotion can be like . You can have promotion in 30 seconds if your stuff is good. Good music is its own promotion.”
-John Mayer (Manage The Temptation to Publish Yourself - a seminar at Berklee College)
"A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."