Life After Mass Society?

Leads to: True and False Pleasures of Life
Builds Upon: The Worlds of Sun and Moon

I received this comment from a reader:

Hey this is Adi. I have been reading a lot of your posts and like this blog a lot and I am posting for the first time.

I have a question that has been bugging me since I first started reading some of your posts. Before that let me clarify that I am your fellow intorvert as well. What I want to ask is, I still don’t understand a purpose of life that doesn’t involve social success and achieving a position in society. Because, the way I have been growing up, a lot of things that you have mentioned are extrovert traits are, the ones I have possessed too in spite of being an introvert. And yes, the way you have stated earlier, I too have wished that I was a person who is sought after by people, can make social bonds easily. But it hasn’t happened and then after realizing my true selves, I have started accepting myself. But still, I do not understand the purpose of life if you remain completely detached and aloof from society. Can you explain what are you living this life for? One example could be living for a very crazy passion if you do possess one. But what if you don’t?

Someone gets all the certificates and learns a skill.
Then the skill abruptly goes obsolete or gets outsourced.  All that effort for nothing.

Someone works for a lifetime and then retires.
They ask themselves, “Why am I still here.”

Someone comes up with a great idea or does the majority of the work on a project.
Their manager takes all the credit and moves up yet another notch on the ladder.

Does all that social stuff really give us purpose or does it merely distract us from questions of purpose?
You can get rewards and praise for doing what the society values, but is it all just noise that distracts from asking whether society values the right things, or whether the society is good and just?
What kind of person makes it to the top of society?  Are these the people who should be on top?  Are they good and just?
Does society care about you to the degree you care about it?  Can a mass society care about you?  If it can’t care, are you just another insignificant worker bee?  How then does society provide us with purpose or meaning?

Does it matter how many gold stars society puts on your forehead if you’ve not learned to be happy with who you are?  If somebody took away those gold stars tomorrow, what would remain?  If you lived for the gold stars and they’re gone now, who are you?

If one doesn’t have any ‘very crazy’ passions, perhaps they should explore and find some.

You’ve brought up excellent questions.  Questions that open up more questions.  Questions that can be scary to confront.  But there is a much deeper sense of peace and identity when we begin to figure out the answers.

When you don’t let the sum of all people(society) dictate who you are, the result is immense freedom.  This freedom has nothing to do with going off to a mountain monastery or living as a hermit.  It’s a state of mind that allows you to perceive the world around you differently:
Think of it this way:

Imagine someone living in a fabulously wealthy society where everyone is expected to have a palace.
This person feels stressed out, unhappy, and ‘poor’ because they can only afford a sumptuous Victorian mansion(butler included).  So long as social expectations define their world view, they will remain unhappy no matter what fantastic luxuries they might have.  Circumstances might change but the big questions are constant.  “How will I get what they have?”, “What will they think?”, What will they say?”

As soon as the person begins to derive expectations from within,  they see the mansion through new eyes.   The person is free to perceive its beauty for the very first time.  It is no longer a disgusting source of social shame, it is a house.  An enormous house abundantly equipped to fulfill every possible human need.  A house far bigger than anyone could possibly need.   Suddenly, it seems ludicrous that one’s life purpose could have been chasing after a still bigger house.  Surely it was never a purpose at all, just a way to pass the time until death.

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16 responses to “Life After Mass Society?

  1. Great post, wise words! Today’s so much distraction going on, that people is often absolutely lost… or maybe is the other way around? Well, just would like to insist on the fact that this inmense freedom is indeed in each one of us. Doesn’t really matter what we’re told, but what we say to ourselves. Also to add that you’ve such a great site. Best wishes,
    Mike.

  2. When you don’t let the sum of all people(society) dictate who you are, the result is immense freedom. This freedom has nothing to do with going off to a mountain monastery or living as a hermit. It’s a state of mind that allows you to perceive the world around you differently.

    I agree with this statement completely.

  3. Well said. I think these passages, from Nietzsche and Morris Berman, may help elaborate on these ideas:

    “Priests and teachers, and the sublime lust for power of idealists of every description… hammer into children that what matters is… the salvation of the soul, the service of the state, the advancement of science, or the accumulation of reputation and possessions, all as a means of doing service to mankind as a whole; while the requirements of the individual, his great and small needs within the twenty-four hours of the day, are to be regarded as something contemptible or a matter of indifference. Already in ancient Greece Socrates was defending himself with all his might against this arrogant neglect of the human for the benefit of the human race, and loved to indicate the true compass and content of all reflection and care with an expression of Homer’s: it comprises, he said, nothing other than ‘that which I encounter of good and ill in my own house.'” (Nietzsche, “Human all too Human,” p. 304)

    In speaking of the unbearable silence some people feel around others, Morris Berman makes these observations: “It is these types of situations that lay bare the nature of a culture most profoundly, for they go down to the root of our existence. They echo the lessons learned in our bodies from childhood, in a daily and repetitive way, and they are microcosms of our entire civilization… despite the fact that there are many cultures on this planet for which silence is a comfortable fact of life rather than a difficulty. The difference may finally be one of embodiment, for if you are in-corporated, if you are in your body most of the time, the Void is not so threatening. If you are out of your body, on the other hand, you need a substitute for the feeling of being grounded. Much of what passes for “culture” and “personality” in our society tends to fall into this substitute category, and is in fact the result of running from silence, and from genuine somatic experience… The problem of hollowness, then, of a-Voidance, is really one of secondary satisfactions, the attempt to find substitutes for a primary satisfaction of wholeness that somehow got lost, leaving a large gap in its place. The British novelist John Fowles calls this emptiness the “nemo,” which he describes as an anti-ego, a state of being nobody. “Nobody want to be a nobody,” writes Fowles.” All our acts are partly devised to fill or to mark the emptiness we feel at the core… our lives are filled with activities designed to cover up the emptiness Fowles refers to. We raise children, pursue careers, go to football games, or write books (not that these things cannot be done in a nonneurotic way). We especially knock ourselves out trying to get other people to love us, so that somehow we will be able to love ourselves.” (Morris Berman, “The Basic Fault,” pp. 26-27)

  4. great post.it’s like buddhism for dummies.
    introspection is the key.
    be happy with what you have.
    our world would be a much much better place if less people where after their passions.
    Creation is a lie.people should create less because they got it all wrong!

    • Unfortunately, there is no simple happy ending here. Someone becoming happy with what they have is the beginning of a new story with just as much trouble. Once someone becomes content to settle with a mansion, the neighbors interpret this as weakness, laziness, and vulnerability. There’s a reason why we are predisposed to care so much what others think and say. The person in the mansion has found their happiness, but in so doing, they have made themselves a target.
      Furthermore we are social creatures that cannot exist alone. Once one realizes the search for a palace is a hollow pursuit, chances are that one ends up in opposition even to friends, family, everyone they depend on.
      Failure to compete within the orthodox arena can often mean being stamped out of existence altogether whether the society is rich or poor. All standards are predicated upon local expectations.

      To some extent we are stuck looking for that palace even if we think it’s a waste of time and energy.
      Thus my topics of discussion in
      Collective Checkmate, a situation where everyone holds everyone else hostage to expectations and social standards.
      and
      Social Immunity, the idea of establishing a realm within society, in which society is not able to coerce us to meet its expectations.

  5. This is an interesting concept. The path that many extroverts take is hilarious at best. A lot of them seek positions of high power, prestige, and/or status. It’s a no-win scenario. Either you “succeed” by acquiring the position and then held hostage by the social structure that gave you this position of rank, or you fail at landing the title and are branded a “loser”.

    Furthermore, if you do succeed you make many new connections with others. However, these new connections are largely transient in nature and are based on what you can “bring to the table.” Once the status card is stripped, the relationship dissipates.

    • This is an impasse I’m still sorting out. Finding a golden mean, a balance between social survival and self seems the obvious solution but that’s just not how it works. Just being able to pay the rent requires an all out struggle to survive. There is no room for balance. It’s zero sum. All or nothing. Otherwise one is outcompeted by someone who was willing to sacrifice balance in life for immediate survival.
      Is there middle ground between corporate climber and starving homeless person? Not really. People in relatively undemanding service jobs earn well below what is necessary to survive on their own.

      The best I can figure so far: Do what dirt poor immigrants do. Pay for a place to live as a group and manage to share it without major disputes. They sure don’t have to worry about loneliness. Even 3-4 people working part time for lousy wages could pay off a modest apartment with plenty to spare. Beyond that, the key would be to work at places within walking distance and avoid cars like the plague.

      • I am currently in an ok middle ground position. I work as a teacher/tutor for all sorts of standardized tests and as a content publisher online (basically just write reviews and product descriptions). These jobs do not really require a ton of interaction with superiors and ass kissing.

        These are two solutions I have found. They both pay a decent amount. Additionally, I get to skip out on a significant portion of taxes, which basically forces most to work and live paycheck to paycheck. I am looking to branch out with different aspects of internet marketing.

        If you could figure out a way to make just a little bit of money online, you could easily survive without being held captive to trite social interaction.

        Your recommendation about living mates is completely credited. Most men nowadays really lack great dating options here in the western world. Instead of shacking up with a poison pill, we should band together and live a life of leisure and pleasurable work. Eventually, the savings could go towards a larger investment.

      • Often, the societal drive for personal financial independence means everyone must ironically sacrifice every vestige of personal independence, all control over one’s life and time.
        It occurred to me that a small minority of people throughout history of humanity have ever been able to have their very own residences and personal financial independence.

        It is a classic Tragedy of the Lords that was once a luxury is now an essential. It is an essential that drives us apart from one another, isolates us, and makes us weak. Soon, our house cat and household brand names are playing a bigger role in our daily lives than our family and friends. Following our modern idea of individualism ironically strips us of our freedom to live as individuals. Everyone’s struggling to pay rent just like everyone else. People can’t even pay less rent or else they would lose status and have to live in an unfashionable neighborhood where it’s unwise to fill the place with too many expensive electronics. Let’s face it, even the cheapest possible place isn’t very cheap in proportion to other expenses.
        It seems like it would make sense to band together with other people to make life easier.

        But all these people who had their own rooms since they were babies are ill suited to cope with even one new person sharing their space. This is painfully evident in college where no one can seem to get along with their roommate. Unlike any other culture in the history of the human species they have nearly zero concept of how to share their personal space, time, and belongings with others.
        If we have a tacitly understood social etiquette for sharing a bus, a subway car, or even a sidewalk is it that extraordinary to exist in the same room with another human being without constantly coming to blows?

        Another major problem: Men suffer a huge loss in status from sharing space with another. Can’t he afford his own place? What woman would want him? Her status would suffer in turn for being with him. “How do you ___ with him with that other guy there? Why is he so cheap?” All her lady friends would ask.

  6. your last paragraph is not very wise.you have a distorted image of women.actually i believe that you perceive them the way an extrovert “alpha” male does(the ones you REALLY dislike) and this is the source of a great deal of your issues.

  7. As a fellow introvert I agree with your premises, here. I would like to ask, as you seem very knowledgable on the topic of society and its functionings in general, if you by any chance studied sociology in college?

    • I never studied sociology, but not too far off. My field was history.

      Reading about these kinds of subjects is pure fun, so I’ve taught myself a few things.
      Actually, I think it’s a waste to learn something from a teacher you’d never want to teach yourself. Otherwise, no further growth potential when the class is passed.

  8. Pingback: Life After Mass Society? | Neurodiversity

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