Life After Mass Society?

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.

Zygmunt blogs at Kingdom of Introversion (and elsewhere).

Life After Mass Society? appears here by permission.

[image via Flickr/Creative Commons]

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on 10/10/11 in featured, Society | No Comments | Read More

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