We’ve just navigated through the Naughties like many of you (*time travellers & the recently dead excluded*).
It sort of felt, to me anyway, like the most predominant global emotion, certainly by the end of the decade, was a morbid schadenfreude, to an almost sociopathic degree.
I am, of course, referring to the ‘epic fail’ phenomena sweeping the web by the latter end of the decade.
The delight we have taken in watching other people being humiliated has surely reached its limit.
It is certainly the currency behind tabloid reportage on celebrities, reality TV shows, X-factor style competitions and the increasingly popular Perez Hilton. These guys are starting to make Rupert Murdoch look like a standard bearer of good taste.
(Link demonstrates that Google has no definitions for good taste).
There are plenty of results for epic fail, conversely.
So the online persona that we’ve become is essentially Nelson, the bully from the Simpsons.
Thomas Edison famously said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
This is honing in on a very important point, that is, if you are afraid of failure, you’re getting nothing done. It would seem that a very large portion of the micro-blogging universe is dedicated to highlighting & exposing the small failures in others, and trying to bring them to global awareness. Shame on us.
Michael Jordan is on record as having said the following:
I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
If that is failure, I want some of it. The point is that it is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all. I would speculate that the forum that gets a cheap laugh out of the failure of others is largely comprised of people who are in jobs they hate, (or perhaps schools in some cases) with deep feelings of inadequacy about themselves. Attention starved, unheard and envious of the success of others. (The bigger the star, the greater the fall > this paradox begins with envy at their success).
So, the more we laugh at the momentary defeats of others, the more we expose ourselves as the real failures for not trying to raise the bar anywhere in our own lives.
Remember that this hyperspace schadenfreude is exactly what is fueling the careers of vacuous wannabes everywhere, who appear in the public eye more & more because they are guaranteed to fuck up. Jade Goody et al, I’m looking at you.
These people are only on television and all over the newspaper stands because they make the most ignorant members of society feel intelligent. The formula for success then becomes LCD² or something like that (where LCD still stands for the lowest common denominator and broadcasters are merely ‘giving the great unwashed what they want’ to sell advertising that promotes LCD² as all we can expect to achieve).
The good news is that it can’t get any more lowbrow. The only way is up. Think how much more innovation the human race is capable of in the context of being allowed to fail. Allow yourself to fail, spectacularly. Embrace it. There is no failure except in no longer trying.
“There is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for.”