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Goodbye Kardashian – Hello Epictetus

Is the sun finally setting on this age of narcissism? If so, what will replace it? If it were up to me, we’d be entering an age where “cool” was defined less by wealth and celebrity, and more by the ingenuity of one’s thoughts – An age where success was defined by the meaningfulness of our lives.

“I feel really blessed because I genuinely love the process of getting my hair and makeup done.” ― Kim Kardashian

If you’ve listened to my podcast or read my recent articles, you’ll know some themes have emerged. Among them;

  • I’ve offered one of many possible definitions of culture – “culture is the socially acceptable neurosis for a given period of time” – the current neurosis being narcissism.
  • I’ve posited that the internet and social media facilitate and accelerate the collective consciousness; a concept first introduced by Carl Jung.
  • I’ve spoken of shifts in the economy and online marketing which I refer to as the new “economy of authenticity“.
  • And I’ve written about a new movement I see that is currently in play – “A push-back against the pervasive group-think and grievance culture, in favor of one that celebrates individuality, freedom, fulfillment, and purpose”. I’ll call this the “movement of meaning“. Ben Shapiro has alluded to this as the subject of his next book.

“We suffer not from the events of our lives, but from our judgment about them” ― Epictetus

In order to properly thread this article together, let me put forward one additional idea:

  • Progress is serpentine – In other words, while there may be a degree of consensus as to what a “better future” looks like, the path towards that future is highly contentious. As such, we tend to oscillate between extremes. This is why most democracies swing between liberal and conservative governments. Once the folly of a given path is revealed, we shift in an opposing direction as a means of counterbalance. Often this new path is equally flawed, eventually leading to another course correction. In hindsight, the path we took to achieve the progress of today was not a straight line, rather it was one that bent to and fro.

“Stretchmarks are my biggest fear of life.” ― Kim Kardashian

Computers, the internet, social media – the information age itself; is one big social experiment. We don’t fully know where it will take us. I believe we are just now maturing past the infancy of this new age. But what comes next? What’s on the other side of the initial superficial presentation of self we saw during the dawn of social media? It is perhaps presumptuous of me to assume the majority of the population has grown sick of this, but I believe there is at least a sufficient mass who have grown tired of it so as to start shunning it as a behavioral norm. What is the opposing value we are drawn towards, to which our path will bend in our pursuit of progress?

I believe (or perhaps just hope) it is a return to the age of stoicism, wherein lies the foundations to achieve this “movement of meaning”. It takes the virtues of stoicism, after all, to properly achieve meaningful lives: wisdom, temperance, justice, and courage. Understanding our individual purpose (our unique meaning) is essential to being truly authentic. As an advocate for a new economy of authenticity, I am therefore an advocate for this movement of meaning.

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

“People who post lots of quotes have major issues. I can’t take all the quotes in my feed. Twitter is OK but Instagram is for pics!” ― Kim Kardashian

Do you believe there is a “movement of meaning” happening? Is the sun finally setting on this age of narcissism? Or is this all just wishful thinking on my part? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. And if you’re interested, please subscribe to our YouTube channel, where I have some very cool conversations with some very cool thought leaders!

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