In Praise of The Superficial
I thought for a while about the title. Is superficial the right word to use? Maybe I should use shallow? In the end I settled of superficial. In the end, I digress, hopefully the general point is conveyed.
Now why is someone who writes this kind of blog praising the superficial?
Well I guess for me it starts with my aversion to grand hypocrisy.
A Little StoryOne of the things you'll hear about if you're in the Muslim community is the value of the community. I suppose it does offer advantages for many people. But here's the thing, the number of very lonely people who don't really appear to benefit from it who thus repeat the mantra boggles my mind.
How do you preach the value of the community when you constantly feel alone and oppressed? I look at these people; men and women alike with a puzzled look. They will speak as if their community is above 'white people' who don't have a community. Yet how do they actually feel when in that community? Alone and oppressed? How do you feel alone surrounded by people? Very easily if there's just a formal connection with people.
I noticed the same thing with religion. Religion offers much to many people, yet the number of people who repeat the mantra of religion boggles my mind again.
A person once preached the value of prayer and the shame of those without religion. Yet this was a person who struggled with self control, was fearful and neurotic.
It really is the obese person thinking they're better than everyone as they talk about their latest diet fad. Just because you associate with a movement doesn't mean you actually contain the value and benefits of it. Just because you associate with 'deep' subjects doesn't mean you are actually 'deep'.
SuperficialWhen we think of superficial, we think of people who focus on things that can be easily seen. Maybe you might associate superficial with the following:
Deep or Thoughtful
You can pursue religion, politics, spirituality, science, politics in a very superficial manner. Most people who claim these realms are not very deep or soaked in meaning.
In the same manner, you can pursue 'superficial realms' with great depths. The body builder who shapes his body and eats right. The well dressed person who keeps up to date on the fashion styles; who spends an hour perfecting their hair. The party goer and entertainer who to raise to the top of the popularity game.
Appreciate the Superficial
Where I've come to appreciate the superficial is that the people involved actually have less bullshit. The average religious person probably hasn't thought very deeply about religion, yet they claim knowledge of the divine and the purpose of the universe. The average political activist is not very deep, yet they claim knowledge on how to solve complex social and economic problems. They focus their life with intensity in areas they cannot solve or make a deep impact. They might even develop hatred for the opposite side. Who knows the answers to these very difficult questions? Who is really capable of grand social and political change?
Yet, the guy who knows how to dress amazingly in a suit with perfect hair. If that is his focus, I've come to appreciate it. It is depth without bullshit so to speak. He knows it is merely about perfecting the look. The hipster who toils with beards and urban farming is simply living his life making the outside trends his domain. He knows it is a silly trend.
In the end I'm reminded of a thought I had a while back in my life
I saw a kind of equivalence between the two.
Raves and religious prayers seem to offer the average person the same thing. A sense of spiritual belonging and being around the masses.
In the same way, a political ideology might offer the average person the same thing as a silly social movement. Being a hipster gives people the same social affiliation sense.
In the same way, a scientific world might offer the average person the same thing as dressing well. A focus to their life and something to excel at.
I use the term average here. Everyone is on a spectrum. There are not doubt people who are truly deep in religion, politics, or science. I am speaking mere of the average. If I meet a person for the first time and they appear to talk a lot of politics. I don't assume they are more deep than someone who focuses on getting their hair just right.
Learn to love the superficial. The people might have less bullshit and the topics at hand more fun and silly :) I've come to love it.