The Nouveau Untermensch

Are you a voracious consumer of youtube videos? A snapchat hero? A facebook legend? A memelord? Well, first of all, I offer my condolences to you. Trust me, I’m not being condescending, I am in the same gigantic boat as you. Except, I know that the Titanic is going to sink and I am fully aware that I can do sweet nothing to prevent the unpreventable. Now, on average, how much time do you spend ‘linked in’? FOMO, you can be honest, the primal fear of missing out ensures that we as a people cannot and will not go out of the ‘loop’ else we’d be one of those ‘loopy neo-luddites’.

What do we watch videos about, whom do we try to emulate on snapchat, what posts do we love to follow on faceboook? For the most part, we love spectating success, it is a natural impulse. We can safely get a kick of dopamine, sitting at home, with none of the risk attached with ‘real-life’ ventures in pursuit of this enigmatic, unrealistic, unachievable ‘success’. We love watching people play football, drive lamborghinis, date supermodels; we all would absolutely love to live this surreal dream life. But we also innately know that this life is safely, securely and permanently out of our reach. We contend ourselves in spectating, not playing. This spectator like mentality takes away from us any and all semblance of a drive or, more importantly, individuality.

This over glamourized depiction of success makes it seem unachievable. We are content with our current situation because we know that the people who achieved success were ‘exceptional’. Zuckerberg definitely didn’t live like your sorry self, he was fed ambrosia, he learnt wizardry at the Harvard school of witchcraft and wizardry, he was a ‘genius’. You are a muggle, you shouldn’t even have such dreams, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Thus you contend yourself in blinding mediocrity, you accept being an ‘unperson’ and choose to live a ‘regular’ life.

What is an unperson? An unperson is an individual who isn’t an individual. He is little more than part of the herd. He listens to top 40 pop music, wears the clothes everyone else wears, watches the same videos everyone else watches and probably is a fan of at least one famous person. The ‘unperson’ claps in the audience when Kohli hits a six. His existence is expressed in birth registers and population surveys and ends in death registers. He thinks he is unique and different, his problems are distinct. In a world where everyone lives life on not their own terms, nothing is unique, everything is a copy of a copy of a copy and so on.

Non-conformity is a dangerous, dirty word. In a system that rewards conformity in an almost mechanical way, it is easy to see why we act like a herd of sheep. Success = Ivy league school + finals club + top job + big house. Follow this set template, and success is guaranteed. You don’t need to ‘think out of the box’, follow the beaten path and you should be fine. All of us essentially live similar lives, the ‘templates’ may be different.

The digital world serves as a readily accessible tool of escapism for an increasingly disenchanted generation. I don’t own a car, I feel bad. Well, at least I can watch videos of Mr. What’s-his-face driving his brand new Ferrari. This erodes any remaining drive in us to better our situation. Instead of engaging with our own miserable reality, we choose to live in a fool’s paradise. Here, everything is nice, everyone is happy and successful.

We are so scared of playing the game that we are happy with cheering for the ones who do.


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