Imagine if the police went about arresting or fining citizens for not having watched the latest episode of Game of Thrones, or maybe for failing a field ”information” test by not being up to speed on the daily, hour-by-hour news. Imagine the existence of laws enforcing the obligation of knowing the most, local, intersectional, socially-appropriate current event.
These come off as absurd, no?
In an age of ultra-connectedness, where the world’s information rides around in our pockets, purses, and bags, being able to say “I don’t know” is one of the most important skills we can develop.
Because, at some point in our cultural development, it became a social and ethical “imperative” to be up to speed on all current events, every episode of the hip movies and television shows, as well as the most microscopic element of the news, and goings-on in every corner of the globe...
(Here it comes… get ready…)
… all to appear worldly and informed.
To appear. To seem. To come across as… (See where this is going?)
When it’s more important to APPEAR worldly and informed by MEDIA-ing (also, read as erudite hobbyist-scholasticism) than it is to BE worldly and informed because of DO-ing (also, read as getting dirty hands, bloody noses, and tear-stained faces), then it’s about ego.
If you wish to improve, be content with appearing clueless or stupid in extraneous matters - don't wish to seem knowledgeable. And, if some regard you as important, distrust yourself."
- Epictetus, Enchiridion, 13a
Like in the silly examples at the beginning of this post, there’s no obligation to “stay on top of everything”, so why are we engaging in this exhaustive practice?
I know why I did it for many years of my life: because, as the kid who was constantly told how stupid I was by my mom, I didn’t want to look stupid at the family gatherings. I became learned to protect my ego from her abuse… it didn’t work. It never works.
So… why are you doing it?
*mindful pause… now, breathe… and breathe again…*
(See y’all tomorrow)