First let’s start with the videos that spark this post:
Addendum: Craig Ferguson: Why Everything Sucks
Now with those out-of-the-way, it’s time to explain why this article is going to end up on both Thoughts on… and Why We Can’t Have Nice Things because these videos tell what I’ve thought about for years and why we can’t have nice things because we now live in a society where nothing is of value if we can’t get it in less than 30 seconds. All of the great thinkers and doers are the result of years not weeks, months or even through dumb luck, just plain years of sticktoitivness and trial and error sometimes with setbacks along the way. Today the mantra of our society is this:
Patience is not a virtue, failure is not an option and youth, imbecility (being stupid) and luck are hallmarks of success in the 21st century.
It’s pretty bleak when you think about it. Those of us who are coming close to hitting the big 3-0 feel that those of us who don’t do anything by then, then we’re in serious trouble and that something’s terribly wrong with you if you don’t achieve success by the time you reach middle age. I like to write more than draw but I often envy those who can (sometimes for monetary reasons) and I know I won’t be able to write anything that would make it on the best sellers list on some obscure newspaper somewhere in Buttfuck, South Dakota, anymore than those brilliant artists would be to find their works in the Louvre in any point of the century.
Anyway about these videos it tells the story about of history’s greatest winners or in reality, their greatest losers with Leonardo Di Vinci taking the lead of how long he has to go before getting his masterpiece of the Last Supper up and ready. From being passed on to working on the Sistine chapel to making the mistress of a duke really unhappy when he put more detail on the ferret than on her. Then there’s that horse thing. But that road to greatness didn’t happen until he was close to pushing 50.
Other figures mentioned in the video include Micheal Faraday and Marie Curie who took 7 years before they can take on their experiments that would change the scientific community. On a side note on this Curie’s discovery would later be her downfall as she died from radiation poisoning and soon will lead to a move to develop special protective measures and Faraday’s shows that sometimes success comes to those who get to it first and forget the predecessors who put them up there in the first place. Then there’s Stephen King and John Coltrane who took even longer to get to where they are.
Then there’s the child prodigies where they started out young before becoming great. Well I fell now that is total bullshit. Child prodigies are not products of nature or self-exploration but instead pure nurture imposed by parents and society under the guise of knowing what’s best for them at the cost of their own choice, not the choice of the child. Was it really in their best interest to play the violin or become the smartest man or woman in the world by themselves or are they really the product of parents who push them so hard sometimes to abusive levels that they are masters of a skill they secretly despise? Sure there are others who don’t have the same pains of the rest but those prodigies are the result of them doing what they want on their own and not let their parents get in the way.
Now all great minds are the result of time, rise and fall of opportunity. But then something happened in the mid 20th century that changed the game. Today we live in a society where being young and stupid is now what it takes to make success and that process is made even quicker with technology. Somewhere a bunch of advertisers and Hollywood giants get together and realize that an entire generation that was looked upon as being a boon was now abundant and full of disposable income. So they decided to market to the youth, the image to be attached to the product where the youth can become the consumer and where it is all to be celebrated.
By some strange leap of faith, that’s all it came to be up to the present day. And that often has a terrible side effect to which we all now want to become great before we hit 30 like it became some terrifying stigma. We see now famous stars, millionaires and celebrities that go on the whims of being young and stupid with luck. We celebrate that more than time and talent. The consequence of all this is that when people want to become successful, we now have to go on this massive rush to get their or else to game is over. People want to get rich want to be like Mark Zuckerberg and not Warren Buffet because in their minds, who wants to be rich at an age where you can’t be able to do anything? Or be famous by sheer dumb luck and to an audience who don’t know any better because there’s no money in being old and talented. Being young and stupid is the norm, opportunities to gain experience are cut, everyone expects them to hit the ground running and not build it up to be ready for the real world and we act surprised, angry and unhappy when we don’t get what we want because we didn’t put the time to do it.
Today we live in an age, where if we don’t get what we want in the shortest amount of time possible, then it becomes something that makes us depressed, angry and jealous of those who have the time and talent, often to compare themselves to them and drop all the work because they will never get to their level when they should be focusing on their own talent. I guess in closing that the centuries of the past have given us great minds who went through their difficult years to become the source of all the great stuff they made and aspire to. But now thanks to the glorification of youth, consumerism and the expectation we can get everything we want with the press of ta button, we gained this Logan’s Run mentality of get it done or it’s over by 30. Makes you wonder what people in the 22nd century would look back to see what this one produces if we are full of people who have the brains and potential but not the patience to make it happen.