By Proxy

I gave some more time to the conversation we had earlier today. My personal reflection unveiled some insight I hadn’t thought about during our call. 

If you are going to tackle this issue it’s important to consider the ways that perceived adjacency shapes the way a person feels about themselves. These young men don’t just see their gurus as distant mentors, they start to see them as peers- especially the ones who are on podcasts. If you absorb enough content that person puts out, you start to feel like you know them, especially when it’s through an informal medium like podcasts. In their own right Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, and others like them, have achieved huge success. They did so over long careers, they took risks, they set out to face the world. Their wisdom comes from real life experiences, real failures, and real success. Their pupils forget that wisdom comes after long careers. You can’t just fast forward to the end result. 

Although it’s very easy to hide from your failures behind someone else’s success, or the wisdom they impart. If I fail at something, I can memorize some wisdom I heard from a respected teacher and say that I now possess the same wisdom. It shelters me from actually having to learn from that failure, from having to face it, from having to bear the humiliation of it, and from ultimately having to rebuild from that failure. At this time in my life, my biggest failure and regret is that I failed to make the best of the opportunities that I’ve had before me. So I try to attach myself to peers who found success because they tried. I can be a name dropper sometimes and it’s a bad characteristic. Their success isn’t mine, it just helps me hide from my sense of embarrassment about myself. In the same way, a lot of these other young men attach themselves to their teachers to hide from their failures or their low self-esteem. It’s a success by proxy, character development by proxy, and wisdom by proxy. It’s a way to experience the world without actually having the guts to step out on your own.