July 10, 2011

The Antidote to Peachimonia

So I just watched The Social Network.
Yes, for the first time.
I don't have what you would call easy access to Hollywood movies, where I live.

Brilliant movie, I think.
I think most movies are brilliant.
I don’t know squat about making movies.

The Social Network.
It made me feel like a bit of a loser.

You know why?

I kept thinking all day, 'look at that Zuckerberg guy.
He's done so much in such little time.
And look at me. I'm doing nothing.
Drawing stupid stuff and writing about my incompetence in different areas of life and making awkward attempts to justify them'.

I compared myself to Mark Zuckerberg.
Weird but true.

I do that a lot. I have the OCD.
Obsessive Comparative Disorder.

Well, actually, all of us do.
It's a human trait.
Well, obviously NOT the Disorder part.
Or the Obsessive part.
But the rest of it.
I really think that’s true.

Its like a computer chip embedded in our brain.
We do it automatically. We compare.

Compare ourselves to others.
Compare others to others.
Compare others to ourselves.
Compare others to others and ourselves;
and ourselves to others and others;
 and others to ourselves and others.

Got you all mixed up didn't I?
So I made a pretty pointless circle diagram to explain.

It provides no clarity at all.
I'm not really sure what the point of it is.
Except to make me look smart.
I was bored when I drew this.

Let me explain how deeply embedded our need for comparison is.
I won't draw any more diagrams.
I promise.

I love sport and I love people who excel in sport. So please don't take this to imply that sports are bad. Other than the fact that I'm hopeless at it, I've got nothing against sport. Of any kind.

My point is, that isn't the very essence of all competitive sport - Comparison? Who's faster than whom?
Who's more skillful?
Who's got more control over their nerves?
Who runs the fastest, jumps the highest, swims the longest, throws the farthest?
Compared to everyone else who runs, jumps, swims and throws.

Other than marathons, where most participants run for themselves rather than winning, sport compares everyone who wants to be compared.

And sport has been around since time immemorial.

I mean, it's been around for a while.
I hate saying time immemorial. If it's immemorial, how do you know about it?
You know about it, because it's been remembered over the ages.
Which makes its quite memorial in my expert opinion.

Competition and it's less aggressive cousin comparison, therefore, have been around for EVER.

The younger dumber brother is compared to his smarter older sibling; kids compare their toys; teenagers compare their looks; adolescents compare the attractiveness and popularity of their girlfriends/boyfriends; young adults compare their education, affluence and lifestyles; older adults compare their kids' cuteness, smartness and lifestyles; old people compare the intensity of the pain and number of ailments they suffer from.

Going back to The Social Network and my imaginary competition with Mark Zuckerberg, my OCD prevents me from getting on Facebook.

The very idea of which, I just found out, was built on the foundation of comparison.
(The Hot or Not/Facemash thingamajig).

And here's the thing about Facebook. Everyone put's their best foot forward. You only see the happy pictures. The pictures of the new girlfriend. The pictures of the latest party. The pictures of the most recent holiday. The wall has the latest good news. The newest cool stuff that's happening in everyone's life.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. Show me a guy that takes a picture of himself sulking after his girlfriend dumped him and I'll show you a masochistic freak.

All I'm saying is that the information is skewed.
And this bias is extremely misleading.
And for a person with an OCD like mine, it's downright devastating.

Because even the happiest moments in my day would pale in front of someone's on-going back-packing tour of Vietnam.

What makes us discontented with our condition is the absurdly exaggerated idea we have of the happiness of others. 
-French Proverb

The French really hit the nail on the head with this one. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Especially not in French.

I often wonder what would happen if the whole 2012 prediction does come true. And all life on earth were to be wiped out.

Since Facebook represents about 600 million of the human race, I would think it would be an appropriate representation of us. So I imagine, we would preserve it in one of those 'Austin Powers' like time capsule.

Then, later, in the year 3512, some green, one eyed, three antennaed, purple suit wearing aliens would land on the planet. And they'd discover us in all our glory in the form of 600 million Facebook profiles.


They would go through all the profiles, one by one, and see happy things.
Look at happy thoughts (or writings on the wall).
Witness us metaphorically poking each other in good faith.
View pictures of people smiling. Laughing and enjoying themselves.
That might take some time for them to figure out.
The fact that we're actually 'smiling'- as a sign of happiness.
Because they, themselves, would have no teeth.
And their way of smiling would be by changing from green to purple.

We would be the happiest, most fortunate, luckiest race that ever existed.
We were never be dissatisfied with life. We would never complain. We would never sulk and whine.

We would be like a whole race of alien Buddha.
Living blissful lives.
Aliens would worship us.

Oh great humans- show us the path to light.
 Show us the way to eternal happiness.
Lead us to Nirvana- oh great human race!

Imagine the poor suckers.

You know what they'll be doing?
They will comparing their insides with our outsides.

Because Facebook records our outside.
The face we want to show the world. The part of our lives we want to talk about.
In other words, our best part.

We put our best foot forward.
In fact, every part we put forward is our best.
The very best we have.
Our biggest toe.
Our longest finger.
Our strongest arm.
Our whitest tooth.

You know, the theory of 'keeping up with the Jones's' is a well known and thoroughly studied phenomena. It spawned a disease, that I heard, was called 'Affluenza'.

The Facebook corollary is the impression that everything is just hunky dory.
Life is rosy-peachy.
A disease that I'd, therefore, like to call 'Peachimonia'.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing.
I'm just saying it's a thing.
It might not do any harm to anyone. This peachimonia.
It might be like a dormant virus that never gets activated in most people.
But for those with OCD, it could be fatal.

The comparison per se isn't the problem. The problem with peachimonia is that it compares apples with oranges. Like the poor green aliens, I compare the totality of my life (my inside) with the 'face' of someone else's life (the outside).

What's the antidote to peachimonia?
  • Find out about everyone's inside.
That would entail an immense amount of effort and expenses.
I'm talking hidden cameras, telephone tapping, private detectives etc. And even then there's no guarantee you'll have even the slightest clue about anyone, and their 'inside'.
And it would annoy people if they ever found out.
You'll have to deal with lawyers, litigations and stuff.
You don't want to get into that.
Trust me.

  • You join the comparing race. So every fun place you go, every fun thing you do, you take pictures to put onto Facebook. You make sure your 'outside' is fit for comparison with everyone else's. And you exercise extraordinary willpower and fortitude to compare only your outside with everyone else's.

  • You stop comparing.
This brings me back to the first point that comparing is an embedded chip in our brain. I'm not sure it's possible to switch it off. To NOT compare. So the easy way to NOT compare, is to NOT get onto Facebook.

I stress the point that this is an antidote for those who suffer from peachimonia.
I have nothing against Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg.
Mark Zuckerberg doesn't know I exist.

If anyone who knows Mr. Zuckerberg is reading this, please tell him I love him.
And please ask him not to sue me for defamation.
I love Facebook.

It's just that I can't use it because of chronic peachimonia.

Okay, all jokes apart. I know it's a huge deficiency in my personality. I can't hide behind the excuse of peachimonia forever, however convincing it may be. 
Which is a LOT.
A LOT convincing.
I'm totally convinced.
I'm so convinced it's almost impossible to un-convince me.

The truth is I have to work on my resilience and my belief in myself to be able to withstand the pressures of social networking websites. 600 million people seem to be doing it just fine. So what's my problem? Right?

I'll work on it.

I found a really great quote here, to help me.

Modern dance pioneer Martha Graham said:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time.

There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

You know what that means?
That means that despite Mr. Zuckerberg's booming success, he's probably not pleased. He, too, is as dissatisfied as me.
Except…  well…  he has less of a reason to be.

But that’s not the point.

The point is I'm here because I need to be the way I am. And if my life isn't as fun and peachy as other's lives seem to be, well, it's not my business to compare. Maybe I was put on this earth to be boring and non-peachy.

That's my job and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability.

The point also is, I'm getting on facebook.
With all my boring glory.
My bore galore.
I will see you on Facebook.
I'll send you a friend request.
I'll be your most boring friend yet.
I'll get onto facebook.
You better believe it.
I'll be there.
Actually, a couple of days later.
I have house guests this weekend.
And then I have to catch up on a lot of work.
I'll be tired after that, so I'll rest a bit.
And then…
If it feels good.
I might…
I don't know.
You know what??!
Forget Facebook.
I don't need it.
The stupid green aliens won't miss me.
And if they do, I'll preserve this blog in a time capsule.
Then they'll worship me.

I'm not sure why they'll do that.
But I hope they will.
I know.
I need help.

Note to aliens in year 3512:
I don't think you're stupid. I just said that. I don't mean it.
 We humans tend to do that a lot.
I love you guys.


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The Pious Hippie by Ms. Pious Hippie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.