Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mediacracy: How the Mediocre Became the Ideal

Hopefully, there comes a time in everybody’s life at which they outgrow their youthful conditioning, and realize that the objective of their lives is not to reflexively compete with everybody else for first place in everything -- and that it is all right simply to be the best at being the person one is, at which everybody can be a world champion at. That’s why the wisest of the wise have advised throughout the ages, “Know yourself,” because in doing so, one will be a highly-motivated expert of his own life and times.

Unfortunately, contemporary education teaches us that personal experience is not important but that generalizations are more valid than one’s own, personal experience, which causes a lot of problems for those who fall out of the range of “average” in anything. On some scale, everyone is exceptional in some, if not many aspects -- which was virtually an obscure but in the long-run, most valuable observation of the time -- made by a biochemist who noted the tremendous variability among people to the extent that it was proper to speak of those differences not in terms of percents, but folds. That is to say, that what one person might find annoying and another not notice at all, there might be one exceptional individual, who might actually die from that exposure.

This was in a time in which researchers quite confidently and smugly pronounced, “There is no intolerance for dairy products -- or aspirin.” And then for that matter, the fitness levels of everyone could be definitively measured by their performance on a treadmill stress test. It didn’t seem to bother the developers of such an idea that most world-class athletes (which should be a standard of something), almost always fell out of the range of normal -- because they were exceptional. But in the new social engineering, the average became the normal, and then the ideal. Thus the mediocre became the standard -- rather than the exceptional and extraordinary.

So while researchers were determining conclusively what was the average, they showed little interest in what produced the exceptional, which might have been a more valuable, significant finding. The mass media, guardians of popular culture, promoted the average as the ideal, into the tyranny of the consensus, majority, mob rule. What the average person thought, was more important than what the best ideas were. In every case, the best ideas should submit to the most popular notions -- whether they were valid or not. It was truth by whomever could sell their idea the best, and control the thinking of the majority, of which they found themselves conveniently in control. It was a temptation too great not to abuse.

The popular media became too powerful -- and that became the seeds of its own destruction, arrogance and abuse. It never learned to handle power responsibly -- which is always fatal. That may be one of the great lessons in disciplining oneself for athletic participation -- that one learns about his own power, and can control it. Very powerful individuals are especially proud of their “gentle touch” -- their delicate control of prodigious power and skill. A weakling will think that a show of brute force, intimidation, bullying is all that is required to appear to be powerful.


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