You know who you are. You've turned over your locus of self control for the collective good. You've given up your mind and soul for others. You have adopted the standards and norms that are acceptable to many people some of the time. You have in fact, dumbed down.
Why do you feel like you've entered the twilight zone of arrested development and whatever potential you once had left with your divorce settlement?
OK. I know. You are expecting some words of comfort and sensitivity. Forget it. You made the huge boo boo of dumbing down. Now at almost any depth your logic and reasoning falters. You have been called an intellectual wienie by your co-workers, neighbors and immediate family, all of whom are your biggest fans. That should tell you something.
You are the bane of Silicon Valley. Employers hire you because they need bodies. They know that at your best you're good for showing up and behaving somewhat responsibly until you leave. That's it. You are known as a generic sheep with a herd instinct.
At some point in your life, probably just before or after puberty, you lost the locus of control on yourself. You ceased to be the one in control of your destiny and have instead decided to let others do it for you, a task which they have always eagerly accepted.
Over a relatively short period of time, your perceptions have become increasingly distorted. You come to conclusions like the sky is falling, everything is the fault of the government and everything in the universe is equal to everything else.
As your thinking further deteriorates, you begin to fantasize that everything in the whole world is driven by oil, the U.S. is always wrong and any negative news about the U.S. is in some twisted way, good news.
In the advanced stages you feel you are qualified to judge people by their looks, opinions and political party affiliation. Despite being such a cynic, you paradoxically think your candidate is the one candidate that is different than all the others that ever were. You have long stopped judging candidates by what they believe and instead judge them on who they know. You are the culture wars.
At work, you drive your boss nuts. You always show up and you always do what you are told but you produce little and contribute little. Your creativity and innovation is zip. Several times you have been passed over for promotions assuming you would have the decency to quit, but you didn't. As your opinions, attitudes and beliefs become more hardened and negative, you find more and more folks getting irritated simply by your presence.
At first you just accept a simple concept such as 'all societies are equal and just.' As you mentally repeat this idea over a period of time you start to believe it. This causes the neurons in your hippocampus to turn to a dark, green liquid and folks start to suggest you take a vacation to recuperate since they can see your mental capacity is declining.
Eventually you deny yourself any sense of excitement or accomplishment as you are convinced it is bad to ever do anything solely for yourself, except of course the bathroom visits. Because of your skewed and depressing views; active, productive folks start avoiding you altogether and start making up excuses like they just came down with the plague and want to be a good amigo and not spread it to you.
As you finally descend into the category of 'loser' you find that anyone that is not a loser avoids you as if you actually did have the plague. The only ones that can stand to be around you are your fellow losers and there comes a point where even they stop seeming very friendly...
Like the critics that criticize because they can't create, you criticize those that stand out and haven't succumbed to the 'we are all dumbed down' credo. They in turn don't do business with you, hire you, marry you, socialize with you, befriend you or help you when you can't figure out the right spreadsheet formula.
If your spouse hasn't joined you on this dumbing down quest then she will soon be leaving you. Another sign of this is when one starts regularly grinding his teeth. The person they hoped they could change when they got married turned out to be a bigger fool than they imagined. To make things worse she doesn't necessarily even leave you for another man or another woman, they just leave. They don't need an excuse let alone a reason...
In the end you turn bitter because no one buys into your baloney anymore. You lose interest in that which does not support your fantasies and over time the effect becomes more pronounced. As you lose your interest, you become less interesting. Sadly, at some point you begin to realize that you are such un-fun that all your friends and family are trying to avoid you. They see you as mix of sad, stupid and goofy.
Like Buddha says, a hundred years from now who the heck will care. But if you want to get admitted, get the job, get the promotion, get the sale, get married, get the contract or just about get anything else, just remember that your collective thinking is all your fault.
Understanding that it is all your fault might not make you feel any better but that insight just might be your only way out.
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Jack D. Deal lives in Collective Thinkers Land, California. Related articlesmay be found at www.jddeal.com and www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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