‘Now, there are times when a whole generation gets caught to such an extent between two eras, two styles of life, that nothing comes naturally to it since it has lost all sense of morality, security and innocence. A man of Nietzsche’s mettle had to endure our present misery more than a generation in advance. Today thousands are enduring what he had to suffer alone and without being understood.’
‘You are far too demanding, too hungry for today’s straightforward, cosy world, satisfied as it is with so little. You have one dimension too many for its liking, so it will spit you out. (…) it is no home, this fine world, for people like us who, instead of nonsensical noise, demand music; instead of pleasure, joy; instead of money, soul; instead of industrial production, genuine labour; instead of frivolity, genuine passion…’
Hermann Hesse ‘Steppenwolf’
‘ YOU MAY BE REPLACED TOO’ read a leaflet I found underneath my doormat the other day. It made me chuckle. Erasure of people has been going on for a while now but no one was paying attention; no one ever cares for people who don’t fit in. I was aware of my own disappearing before the news of the phenomenon became public knowledge. From one day to another, everyone unglued their eyes from their screens and realised that they were tricked like kids- with sweets and white lies. But there is no such thing as ‘from one day to another’. There’s no such thing as revolution. It’s always an evolution, enabled by us and done by us. In this case, the evolution involved erasing ourselves from the equation before the final act was even planned. We made it all so easy.
Nothing is for free; nothing is given to us purely for our benefit. We should have known this but we never learn. We always leave the past in the past and look into the future, hoping it will be better than the present day.
Everywhere you turned you could hear people preaching. ‘You can be whoever you want to be in this life’, ‘Imagine you have it and you will truly have it!’, ‘It’s all up to you and only you, no one can tell you what to do. Only you can limit yourself in this life!’. And so a lot of us smiled and raised our heads to look up for the first time because we felt so powerful, and we kept asking ourselves why we hadn’t thought about this earlier! ‘Why no one told me this before?’ (‘Because they don’t want you to know it!’), ‘Why no one told me that I can be my own boss?’ (‘Because the rich people out there want you to stay poor!’). This elated feeling among the nations lasted for a while. For a while, people were fed this wonderful, refurbished old knowledge. For a while, some of them succeeded. It was organic, it wasn’t planned, it was just happening to people who showed up and did the spiritual work, it seemed.
It wasn’t long before the same people who raised their heads in elation, started feeling overwhelmingly disappointed. They were given the voice, hence they thought what they have to say mattered. The cacophony of voices was more deafening and confusing than what you would hear near the mythical Tower of Babel. People thought they need to shout louder, do more and faster to get their important voice heard. This time, virtual preachers said: ‘Do this and your voice will be heard’, ‘Do it our way and we will pick you’. And so we stopped looking inside to find our unique voice. We looked at the rules and we started producing instead of creating. Nothing was organic anymore, we planned everything to perfection. We would say things that could offer a chance for the best results. All things valuable were underneath the surface that hardly anyone wished to explore. We became actors, acting out scripts of our lives that were yet again not written by us.
I was among those who looked up to the preachers and thought that all my hidden dreams and desires that I had deemed impossible, based on the life I was born into, were, in fact, possible if only I believed they were and acted accordingly. I met many people who were thriving in our new world. I also met people, who like me, encountered problems on their way. Maybe you are one of us? Tell me, did you also listen to your own voice, genuinely trying to understand who you are and what you want to do? Going against the flow is never easy but you persevered because once the door to our true nature is open, it is even more painful to close it, isn’t it? There you were, realising why you’re here and what your true voice is, only to look around and see that this voice of yours is not needed anymore. The world moved on and skipped your contribution to it. Now the only voices that push through the noise are the ones that fit in with the calculated requirements.
Surely, it’s not the first time in human history that ‘a generation is caught between two eras’. It has always been so but this time, it wasn’t just some generation. It was spanning all living generations and spared no one who exhibited the wrong traits. There was no one in our plastic world not affected by depression. Everyone assumed that the fast pace of our lives and constant comparison with others was responsible for the plague. But no one realised that the real culprit was the pseudo-positive voices of liberation, telling us to take matters into our own hands. The seeds were planted and we were put in charge of cultivating it. This is how we became our worst judges, putting ourselves through the most intricate punishments.
If everything is in your hands and if all you need is to really believe and act, who would your subconscious mind blame if your life didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to? YOU did not believe hard enough. YOU didn’t try hard enough. YOU and only YOU are to blame. At this point, a lot of us joined the ranks of those whose voices fit the suggested narrative. The virtual world seemed so much easier once you let go. There were guides and tips for everything and all you needed to do was to say and show things that attract the attention of algorithms. You say what has to be said and you get a reward. Simple as that. One simple change led to another and without even realising it, people with their heads up started walking around with their heads hanging low again; but this time they were not blaming anyone else for their failures. They were beating themselves up for not trying hard enough and wondering what they had done wrong. And on their own accord, they went back to their masters, just for a while of course, hoping to figure things out a little bit better, a little bit later.
The final act of the play that has been in the works for so long is in the final stages of development now. All actors have learnt their scripts by heart, they have merged with the characters they were cast as. I am an actress too. A very good one for that matter however, my voice is not heard; my movie is silent. I imagine that I have been cast as one of the characters in Metropolis. I am still trying to fit a triangle into a rectangular slot and say things I feel I need to say. Things that boil inside me, that hurt me, that I can’t accept even though I know nothing will ever be the same again. And so you will not hear me speak, even though you will see my lips move. Sometimes, you may hear me sing. The door has opened and I refuse to close it. I won’t be a contender for any awards, I know what roles bring the biggest applause and I am not interested in them.
What kind of actor are you? We, the silent ones, need to find one another. Yet again we are facing a moment in history when we become obsolete. This is a story of figuring out. It will evolve and grow as I go. Things may change, disappear, move around. It’s a stream of consciousness that I hope will help me understand how to carve out a place for myself in the world that has no empty seat for me. At the moment I am still fighting but the script has arrived. The envelope is laying on the table and I know that if I open it, things will get easier. I could just fall asleep and let them lead me.
To be continued…