I think that most of us can agree that there is a growing disparity between all of us, derivate of a mainstream world that has largely become fake, shallow, and mostly devoid of any intellectual, emotional or (and I hate to use this word, but for lack of better term) spiritual nutrition, what-so-ever. If you agree, read on…
A few years ago, I met an interesting fellow (who to protect his identity, we’ll call Michael) at Burning Man. Michael was a pretty cool guy. He was funny, charismatic and who I still believe genuinely cared about other people. Unfortunately, though, there was a gaping hole in his life which caused him to incessantly seek the approval of others anywhere he went. And while I could tell that Michael was largely a good person at his core, his unquenchable thirst for affirmation caused him to be ostracized (and mostly ignored) more often than not.
Michael was one of those people who I could accurately describe as a “heroin level” social media addict. As an aspiring music producer, he would often post half assed tracks online every few days, hoping that someone (anyone) would come along and click the “like” button. I would often urge him to spend more time on being original and getting better at production but being musically proficient wasn’t Michael’s driving motivation. His main priority was to mimic (as closely as possible) all of the artists he thought were the most important at the time and attain the same glamorous rock star status.
Eventually, after years of attempting to penetrate the music world (and failing miserably time and time again, as nobody gave a shit about him or what he was doing), Michael went into a deep (and possibly alcohol or drug related) depression, and eventually took his own life.
Ironically, I was also friends with another producer at that time (who’d I’d known for almost two decades) who we’ll call David, who had years of success in the music world under his belt. David was Grammy nominated. He was rich, influential and had accumulated more than his fair share of the accolades and worldly treasures that one would imagine you’d need to accumulate in order to be happy. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for David. Sadly, he took his own life a couple of years ago, for reasons that I now understand, were derivative of a lack of genuine human connection with others.
Two very different people on similar trajectories, with identical outcomes, and both missing the key ingredient for true happiness & fulfillment… real human connections.
Obviously, suicide isn’t the end game for everyone (depression is already bad enough), but these examples help me to elucidate a very important point that I imagine rings true for a lot of us… that your happiness and fulfillment shouldn’t be dependent on what you have (or don’t have), what you’ve accomplished (or haven’t accomplished), or what people think of you. It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially in a world where the media is constantly shoving a bunch of fake shit (i.e. sociopathic Kardashians & reality shows) down our throats constantly, but I assure you, taking a good look at your own life in this regard will be more worthwhile in the end than you can possibly imagine.
Years ago, when I lived in Los Angeles, and was on the (rock bottom) tail end of a 12-year career with my first really successful band, I ended up getting staph infection in my face. It was terrible, to say the least. I didn’t even really know what was happening to me, other than half my face seemed to be melting off, and that I had a terrible fever. When I finally conceded to going to the hospital, I couldn’t find a single person to drive me there. All those people who came to my parties when I was doing well, all of the “friends” I had that were there when things were awesome… none of them would answer the phone or make the time to go with me. Except for one girl, who had been my friend the entire time, regardless of my social standing or success (I married her, by the way.)
The point is… the world we all so desperately seek to be a part of, often doesn’t want to have anything to do with you when it’s not convenient for them… and that is the world that most of us chase our whole lives. Crazy isn’t it?
So, why are we constantly seeking the approval of a world who doesn’t give two shits about us instead of fostering real human connections with people who do?
I think the answer to this, partially at least, is that it’s just not as glamorous (we are ALL seduced by glamour in one way or another). Also, it requires us to be vulnerable, honest, and selfless, and most people struggle with these basic concepts (I did for a long time). But let’s face it, even from an evolutionary standpoint, we all need one another (maybe more than ever now), and yet, we all seem to make these basic connections our last priority.
I think another reason is that most people are devoid of true passion & drive. Most people I know who are truly successful don’t have the time or the will to be online wrangling likes. They are doing things in real life that make them like-able. And that dedication to excellence fills a void that nothing else (besides real human connections) can. Most people, well… they just want the rewards without the work.
And again, I know this because I used to like that, myself…. And guess what, it’s a dark road that leads to bad shit.
I’m not telling you how to live your life. If you want to model your life after your favorite celebrities, more power to you. I wish you success and happiness. But as a person who has been down that road and on the brink of despair and suicide, I can tell you firsthand, that it’s not the best course of action.
If you want to find real happiness… find something you are passionate about and dedicate your life to it. Additionally (and probably most importantly) work on your connections with the people who truly care about you, because at the end of the day, they are really all that matter.
(Written by Jesse Scott)