Some ‘normal’ things that shouldn’t be
Peer pressure is a powerful thing — what we see people around us do shapes our notion of how life should be lived and how things should be done, even more so when we’re subtly shamed for not conforming.
But when you peek under the hood, not everything makes sense. Here are a few things whose status as ‘a part of life’ seems suspicious.
Addiction to busyness
This is the year 2021, when many things that used to take ages like long-distance communication and downloading/transferring files are all near-instant. Technology gave us a lot of our time back, which we’ve managed to fill up with… stuff.
Being busy isn’t a problem in itself. The problem is that, increasingly, not being busy is seen as undesirable. “Idleness aversion” is a thing, and busyness is becoming a status symbol.
I’m not sure who made it a legal requirement that the time technology has created for us must necessarily be filled ‘productively’, yet you have influencers all over the internet urging people to spend every waking hour ‘working towards goals’.
Nobody should feel worse about themselves because they like to play video games during their free time, and sleep in on weekends.
In fact, if you want peace of mind, that is probably the way to go. Feeling like you have an abundance of time does wonders for your mental health.
Loyalty is considered as a virtue, even a requirement when it comes to family. That’s not a bad way to think about it — we live interdependent lives and sticking by one another is essential.
However, there’s nothing good about hiding (and hence abetting) someone’s abusive behaviour or helping with gambling money just because you share DNA.
Loyalty, often admirable, is strange behaviour in the face of compelling evidence that it is not merited.
Loyalty is also generally expected not just towards people, but also towards opinions. One of the internet’s favourite Gotchas is posting someone’s statements from the past which contradict what they are currently saying.
The record-keeping nature of the internet can be phenomenally useful in exposing hypocrites and holding people accountable.
However, it’s also important to recognize that changing one’s opinion in the face of new information is natural, even mature. We have witnessed this happen over the past year-and-a-half when it comes to COVID as we learned more about the virus with time. Consider this before embarrassing someone to score internet points, which might make them close-minded or reluctant to speak at all in the future.
We need to do away with ‘attendance awards’ in schools and workplaces.
It’s normal for one to require time off on a day that isn’t Saturday or Sunday, and there is no glory in being the one who does this the least.
Besides awards for attendance, there are sometimes negative consequences for not powering through and showing up — if you don’t have paid time off, you literally may not able to afford not to show up, or if you’re a top-level athlete, there’s too much at stake not to ‘play through pain’. These things can have effects more damaging than any incremental benefit from the person showing up (like infecting the entire office, or turning a niggle into a long-term injury).
“Who showed up the most?” should be sports trivia at best.
The ‘monetize your hobbies’ concept really grinds my gears. Everyone can really do without the pressure to make money even when they’re trying to take a break from doing just that.
There are two ways this happens today.
- External: The busy crowd discussed earlier, not satisfied with turning their own lives into 24x7 Hustle, propagate the notion that anything you do that isn’t making you money is time wasted. Yeah… No.
- Internal: While reacting this way to an urgent financial need is understandable, we shouldn’t normalize it. Indeed, this increasingly isn’t an individual problem, and requires a more systemic solution.
Besides, hobbies are fun activities meant to improve mental health. Stressing out about monetizing them has the opposite effect.
Do you have any thoughts, or any more to add? Please do comment!