Get Serious

Supreme anger and motivation are not normal reactions to Don’t Look Up. The anger, sure, Adam McKay hoped you would feel that. But motivation? Inspiration? Not on some grand political level, but on a personal level? Yet, here I am deeply motivated to change my own life.

My how we have become a deeply unserious people. We spend so much of our time listening to absolute buffoons talk about absolutely irrelevant stuff. We rapturously watch vapid people live their shallow lives. And then we complain about all of it … only to turn on The Bachelor as soon as the new season commences. Twenty-six seasons!!! How? Why? This is the anger. This is the don’t blame the media since they are only what they are because that is what we will buy. This is also the smugness, the looking down on all those people who stupidly consume trash TV and who consider themselves “informed” after “reading” takes from partisan hacks who are so clearly not thinking completely that a total novice could listen to them once, with no background information, and ask them obviously important questions that any serious person who seriously was after the truth would have investigated and yet when asked such questions, tada, the hollow mind tasked with nobly carrying the “news” to the population meekly says, “Let me get back to you on that.” And so when you are the person who not only knows the questions but the answers, you get to feel all smart. You’ll ask the heavens why people don’t just drop the hacks and come roam with the real minds, but you’ll not actually want them to join you, for then you’ll lose your aura of superiority. When everyone knows what you know, how will anyone know you are smart?

But that pretension isn’t the problem per se because it’s all quite accurate. The problem is that its accuracy lets you off the hook. While you might not be watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians, are you really 100% hardcore devoted to only SERIOUS things? Like, are sports all that different from reality TV? And isn’t all wandering on the Internet equally unproductive, not just scrolling through celebrity blogs? If you browse “smart” content without ever giving over your attention, who cares if it’s smart? Checked out and passing time is checked out and passing time. You might soothe yourself with rationalizations of how there’s the chance you’ll learn something important that the celebrity-blog-checker doesn’t have, but how often has that long-shot hit?

Maybe you are even worse than those you condemn because they are totally honest: there are no illusions about “value” or “learning” in the reality TV crowd – mindlessness is the entire point. And don’t think it isn’t appealing to you as well. There’s a reason you pass on all those 15,000-word pieces.

But why? Why aren’t we using excessive time from all the advancements and conveniences of 2022 to do more, learn more, be more? Because it’s hard. More time doesn’t change the fact that mindlessness is easier than being mindful, that relaxation is easier than determined concentration. What can change, though, is a mentality about what can be done in short periods of time. Hard stuff requires a getting ready for in a way that easy stuff does not. So when the window is small, we feel justified in caving to easy. How can I read a book when I only have a minute? I’ll just check my phone… Reject this! Reading isn’t hard. Stop thinking it is. Stop thinking you have to get into something. Not worth committing if I can’t really sit down. No. No way. You have trained yourself to be soft. You can train yourself to be hard. There are so many minutes you are just giving away. Where did all the time go? It went to 3 minutes of opening your phone and 10 minutes of scrolling and 5 more minutes of checking your messages 5 minutes after you just checked them and 7 minutes of forgetting which tab you were working in and on and on. That all adds up if you use it well. Stop thinking you need an hour. You don’t. You can learn a language, enhance your vocabulary, read a great novel in the in-between minutes. Get aggressive with them. Seek them out. Love them.

GET SERIOUS about your life and what you can do with all this time!