You’re Not Special

The title of this post is my new motto: you’re not special, I’m not special, none of us are special. It sounds depressing, but it’s actually quite liberating.

So many of our problems and neuroses come from thinking that we must do one thing or another because we have some special role to play in the universe. While we all have unique gifts and talents and contributions that we can make, none of us are special in some cosmic sense, and that means that the universe can live without us, and also that the universe doesn’t owe us anything.

You’re special to yourself, of course. I’m special to myself. We all have unique relationships to other human beings, our pets, and society at large. But we’ve been led astray, first by the permissive parenting recommended by Dr. Benjamin Spock, which inculcated selfish thinking in the Baby Boomer generation, and in turn their children, and now by social media, which is designed to addict us by preying on our desire to feel special and unique.

We only need to look at Elon Musk to see how this plays out. Ever since he bought Twitter, he ordered the engineers to add code to make his own Twitter account “special”, which is bizarre, honestly. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook account is specially moderated, and I’m sure whoever deals with his account has to ward off antisemitic, conspiracy theory, and even more bizarre comments. There’s something about wealth and celebrity that attracts weirdos who want to feel special by proxy. They’re exactly the sort of sycophants who Elon Musk is catering to, because their obsession makes him feel special, and when he interacts with his fans, he makes them feel special, too.

It’s a narcissistic feedback loop, and it’s awful. You may have gathered from my frequent posting schedule that I’m still working through my Twitter withdrawal. Deleting my account on that site made me realize just how much the feeling of having thousands of “followers” and the fake empowerment of broadcasting my thoughts to them was harmful to my own self-fulfillment.

This ties into my horror of casinos and the addictive nature of video slots and video poker. These machines were designed to concentrate the feeling of specialness that comes from winning, or even losing, a bet, without the friction that comes from psychological interactions with other players or the dealer. Instead, it’s just a human plugged into a machine giving them dopamine hits.

True self-fulfillment requires effort, maturity, and a willingness to tolerate discomfort, all traits that our technology has clearly been designed to prevent the masses from achieving. By distracting us with the promised payoffs of popularity and “likes”, or of “wins” in the case of casino games, we’re being herded like cattle and prevented from achieving true individuality, the one aspect of any of us that’s actually special.

We may not be “special” in a cosmic sense, but we all have the ability to make differences in the world, and those differences are what give our lives meaning. You don’t make a difference in the real world by wasting away at a slot machine.







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