I recall a particular sequence in the first Matrix film that reveals the lead character Neo being told by the Oracle to focus on a Latin template bearing these very words (English translation: ‘know thyself’). Flailing attempts at ‘knowing oneself’ constitute the primary quest for entire generations born in and after the 80s. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people say “I don’t care what people think” and marvelled at how silly they sound saying it. A more apt apologism might be “I ‘try’ not to care what people think or say about me” or “I don’t let people’s opinions influence my decisions” but both seem inevitable.
I have finally come to terms with the fact that we all navigate our lives away or towards the ‘people’ that surround us. If you are a rebel you are one because you do not conform to societal standards; if you are a conformist you are one because you do; If you are a nihilist it is because you just don’t care like other people do; if you’re a zealot its because you need other people to care as much as you do. The irony, however, lies in the fact that ours is perhaps the most insular generation of all time. The internet and its corresponding gizmos now allow each of us to physically escape the public whenever we choose by maintaining our individual doppelgangers in cyberspace.
Yet the independence that was supposed to have come with modernity seems to be lost. It would be a relief to for once look in the mirror and appreciate ones’ face for what stands out pleasant rather than being bombarded with what needs fixing; to be able to take solace in literature, music and films without the added element of their ratings, their perceived triteness/ depth or the general consensus that defines the “in thing”; to like or dislike something, anything on the premise of ‘taste’ that has not been outlined by the media, society, religion or culture. I recognise that we are all a constant work in progress but it would be good to know that we are our own ‘works’