Addiction to Mediocrity: The Desire to be Like All the Rest
Nowadays, the word “normality” has acquired a strong meaning. More than a concept, it’s ended up being a mantra of the current world. However, according to many thinkers, the desire to be normal and to return to normal when something has been disturbed has been infected with mediocrity.
Many have a genuine obsession with being in a “center” position, as they feel that’s the best place to be. Nevertheless, the center isn’t a state of equilibrium, but a gray place where mediocrity usually lives. Not a lot, not a little, neither here nor there. This is precisely what some call ” normality.”
As a matter of fact, there’s so much interest in staying “normal” that it sometimes becomes an obsession and can lead to mediocrity. It means “being like everyone else”, not straying too far from the herd, or being different in any way. You obey the rules and don’t get out of order unless disorder becomes a trend, that is.
” We all walk towards anonymity, only the mediocre arrive a little earlier.”
-Jorge Luis Borges-
The “normal” and mediocrity
Mediocrity leads to people being neither exceptionally good nor bad. They don’t do anything overly commendable, but they also don’t do anything significantly destructive either. In ancient times, they spoke of it as aurea mediocritas, or the “golden mean”.
The Epicureans deemed it desirable since they considered excesses led to suffering. However, currently, mediocrity isn’t an effort to regulate aspects of reality in order to achieve just proportions. In fact, it’s an attitude that equates “the normal” – understood as common – with the ideal.
José Ingenieros claims, in his book El hombre mediocre (The Mediocre Man), that what defines mediocrity is the inability to forge great ideals and fight for them. The ideals to which this philosopher refers are not those imposed by culture, but those that each individual builds in an authentic way.
For many people, the ideal today is to coincide with what the majority define as good or desirable.
The economically productive and socially successful human being is the mirror in which many want to see themselves reflected and the measure from which they judge their own progress.
Banality as the norm
Current ways of life invite you to remain on the periphery of reality. Indeed, it seems as if the idea that things are simply as they are has been well and truly integrated into society, and there’s no choice but to adapt to the inertia this idea generates. Furthermore, there’s no possible way to live other than to produce and consume. In other words, becoming a part of the market is what’s seen as “the reality of life.”
In many cases, great efforts must be made to achieve small achievements. The coordinates of this reality indicate that enjoying a salary and having money to buy things are the goals to be achieved. The belief that there’s no “beyond” has been indoctrinated into society.
Regardless of the political implications, what we want to highlight is the fact that it seems as if everything is questionable, except the very foundations of this particular reality. It’s as if the big questions about the meaning of existence have disappeared and the issue is considered to have been resolved. As if there were no roads left to build, but trails already made to travel.
Mediocrity concerns the intimate desire to go with the herd without questioning why. Also, with feeling satisfaction in being approved by others, regardless of what basis or for what purpose that approval is given.
Even differentiation has become a regulated matter. We live in times of “minorities” who affirm their identities and claim their place within a pre-designed scenario. Minorities fight to be recognized by the majority. It’s the same old story over and over.
To escape from mediocrity, you don’t have to become a misfit or an anarchist. It’s enough to recognize yourself and try to be faithful to those principles that you’ve built through your own reflections, over and above any promoted or demanded loyalty.
Stake your claim on what you are and not how you appear. Stop seeing yourself as an erratic and inconsequential “me” and learn to look at yourself as part of a story, of an eternal universe.