Starting with Greeks a very long time ago, not participating in society
would cast us aside and one would be heavily criticised for not participating in the group. Thus having more of a private life, we would be defined as useless. This is where the word “idiot” stems from.
While its origins came from the criticism of private people who kept to themselves in Ancient Greece, today the word idiot seems more of a reductory adjective about how stupid or lacking we are in the mind department. It’s difficult not to see how the word has defined an entire culture against any introverted activities which require being on one’s own in order to create. A culture, which doesn’t value introspection and dreamery, time to ponder and create at one’s natural rythme.
In my last article, I made a reference to Vincent Van Gogh, in Range by David Epstein.
In Range, David writes about how Vincent spends most of his life trying a vast number of practices, tries many career vocations before coming back to his childhood desire of drawing. Vincent had been heavily criticised in childhood about how he drew and this had created an anti belief about his skillset. His creativity was stifled because he believed he needed to live up to others standards. One night during a storm, Vincent discovers his talent and pleasure of working with paint and the rest is history. Though lived most of his life shunned and feeling a failure. This same process of late discovery David talks about in his book is one that many writers encounter later on in life, after having had adventures and experiences to form who they are and discover what they like. Which solidifies their self identity as an artist afterward.
Although being called an idiot might have made us feel fear that the entire community would ostracise us in Ancient Greek times. Today, keeping to one’s self is still regarded by many as something wrong. Though, something which wasn’t clear in that era was the amount of people who need that private time to themselves for the creation and the formulation of their creative process. Introverts, Artists, Creatives, anyone who needs to gather their thoughts because they’re sensitive to the world around them, who get over stimulated while in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They all need one thing, Privacy.
In today’s world, too many people participate and not enough people listen. This makes for a noise like experience and saturates us. Where a town center would maybe hold 1000 people back in the day. Today our town center is social media platforms. Anyone with any desire to say anything can speak. Only this creates a sort of fog of stupidity which mutes anyone who has anything important to say but doesn’t necessarily have the desire to speak the loudest. This comes back to Rosa Parks during the civil rights movement in America. A silent calm voice holds a far reaching message.
While young 15 year old ticktokers rake in Millions of dollars for twerking and saying something “likeable” to the culture around them. “Likeable”, what others like. Not anything of value but something they like. Something which keeps them in their mental comfort zone.
Eating Greens wasn’t considered something I liked when I was young, but I still ate them, because they were good for me. The same goes for listening to counter points of view, different ideas, anything which shifts us out of our comfort zone. This morning
I started my day with a cold shower. It wasn’t nice at first, but I relaxed into it and came out feeling invigorated.
All this to say that in today’s world, saying something that people like will make you instantly famous, while what you’re saying doesn’t even need to make sense. While people saying sensical things will seem dull and boring because it’s not exiting or exotic will make you an outcast and you can potentially lose your position. ahem, ahem… Jordan Peterson…
Anything which isn’t bitesized, condensed, devoid of hard work and meaning, even sensical and grounded isn’t interesting to anyone who was born with a smartphone in their hand. This leads me to the thought of people discovering the outside world.
Where we had childhoods outside, in the countryside, discovering, imagining, playing, cycling, climbing etc.. Anyone born with a smartphone directly developed the inner world with virtual scenery and adventures but no sense of grounding or reality.
They didn’t actually have the adventures, they didn’t experience the muscle aches, the cold rain, the setting of dusk, the wind upon their faces, the experience of physical competition while running faster than their friend etc. This lack of external development makes for people who are solely dependant on their phones. Whom, might even be scared to go out for physical adventures. This makes for people who are dependant on notifications and cannot spend time on their own.
Though increasingly, as we advance through time, real values and respect of the human condition takes a backseat. Money becomes more important, and anyone who doesn’t fit the traits of societies successful pioneers are shunned and outcasted. Doing stupid things in flashy colours, with loud dramatic music and visuals which supposedly catches attention is valued. Is our society full of Stupid people or is it full of idiots?
Obviously there are idiots (people who need private time to create), but the level of stupidity is high and the number increases daily.
I’ll be an idiot for now and let the cloud of stupidity pass. Maybe we’re in the morning of our lives and it’s still early in the age of internet. Maybe this fog will pass when they run out of hot air, we’ll go towards a more productive society where people share meaningful content rather than attention grabbing nonsense. Maybe.
For now, stupidity and idiocy are two different things in my mind. But I will let stupidity pass so I won’t have to strain myself to talk louder than the next…
“As early as 1856, have interpreted the word “idiot” as reflecting the Ancient Athenians’ attitudes to civic participation and private life, combining the ancient meaning of ‘private citizen’ with the modern meaning ‘fool’ to conclude that the Greeks used the word to say that it is selfish and foolish not to participate in public life.“
“It is certainly true that the Greeks valued civic participation and criticized non-participation. Thucydides quotes Pericles’ Funeral Oration as saying: “[we] regard… him who takes no part in these [public] duties not as unambitious but as useless””