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a serious rant

Why is "taking yourself too seriously" such a bad thing?


Wouldn't the world be a better place if more people took themselves (and their actions) more seriously? Aren't we all taught to admire things like honor, sacrifice, bravery, and respect? Do we really want a world of people who run around not giving a shit about anything?

Fuck my generation. These idiots who mistake ironic detachment for intellectual discourse. These children who confuse backbiting and criticism for intimate relationships. People so scared to take a risk and actually care about anything that they tear down anyone who does. It's easy to be right all the time when you expect the worst, sure. But isn't it braver to try, to care, to do something, anything, just for the sake of doing it? Just for the lessons it can teach, every hard-won, disappointment-filled time? Is it really so hard to give a shit? And don't you have to begin by giving a shit about yourself - what you think, how you feel, what you want - before you can give a shit about anything else?

And what's more, it seems to me that telling someone they're taking something too seriously, themselves or otherwise, is just like saying, "I don't give a fuck so neither should you." And, really, when you put it that way, it seems like a pretty dumb statement, doesn't it?

But, then, perhaps I'm taking all this too seriously.

{ 1:23pm }



» Taking oneself seriously and taking one's actions seriously are two very different things, Derek. The ability to laugh at oneself is all but universally acknowledged as a virtue, while tendentious self-seriousness is all but universally derided as a flaw - it is, after all, nothing but ego in a party dress. Serious people do not stop to demand personal respect before moving forward to do good in the world.

As for how one goes about caring for others, I find it odd that you suggest it necessarily begins with care for oneself. I think that the truly moral position would suggest, quite the contrary, that one should consider one's own interests last, not first.

Finally, do I think that the world would be a better place if more people took themselves seriously? I most certainly do not. There is enough of that going around right now as it is.

– sole  { 10.12.01 @ 2:15pm }

» Heh. Yeah, and you seem to not take yourself seriously at all....

Derek M. Powazek  { 10.12.01 @ 2:32pm }

» I thought the ego in a party dress line was pretty funny.

– sole  { 10.12.01 @ 2:45pm }

» Whoa. All things begin with care for oneself. Both in terms of body and spirit, if you can't give care to yourself you will have nothing to give to others. The notion that caring for oneself first is contrary to a truly moral position is bizarre and makes me wonder if you aren't engaging in a little jousting to stir things up here.

Not that that would be a dreadful thing (note -- author not taking himself *too* seriously).

I do believe that communities would benefit if people took themselves more seriously. And by serious I mean commitment, passion and sacrifice not a dour or self-important demeanor.

christopher  { 10.12.01 @ 3:38pm }

» I laughed for what its worth.
I think both of you take yourselves too seriously...while I just don't give a fuck.

dangerman  { 10.12.01 @ 3:38pm }

» gah...christophers post sneaked in before mine now it's out of context. Now I'm completely bummed.

dangerman  { 10.12.01 @ 3:41pm }

» "Why is taking yourself too seriously such a bad thing?" Because it will turn you into a dirty, old man.

wesley  { 10.12.01 @ 10:45pm }

» because taking yourself too serisouly implys excess? Moderation is the key. You see.

Tom  { 10.12.01 @ 11:04pm }

» I'd say "taking oneself too seriously" is often confused with actually giving a shit about the outcome and meaning of your actions. If that means that we need to "Woah, mellow out, man!" then I say pass the caffeine and step aside.

And now I'm all riled up.

Kevin Smokler  { 10.13.01 @ 12:18am }

» I think there's a difference between taking yourself too seriously and reasonably evaluating what is worth getting serious about.

Essentially it seems to me to work like this - there are a lot of things that people do which are idiotic. There are a lot of things that people say that are idiotic. There are a lot of things that people will say TO one that are really upsetting or irritating. There are a variety of ways of dealing with it - there's spelling out to them why they're wrong, there's getting angry, there's ignoring it, there's making a joke out of it. In fact there are almost infinite ways to get the same point across.

So the question isn't WHAT point you try and get across, but HOW you get it across, and what effect it has on your relationship with that person, your own person mood, and the dynamics of a group.

These things are all worth thinking about. You can get riled by someone without letting them KNOW you're riled. You can make it clear that you don't agree with what they're saying - or even that they're talking rubbish - in ways that don't turn their idiocy into an argument between the two of you. It's about PITCHING it right.

And the prime example is taking yourself too seriously. If people think they're really pissed you off or that your dogmatic about something, then their ways of reacting back to you are limited. They can back down (lose/run), they can keep pushing (fight) or they can try and pretend (and get you to pretend) that they DIDN'T piss you off, or it isn't important. That's their only range of options, and none are particularly pleasant.

The trick is offering more and more options to them - a huge variety of ways to GRACEFULLY admit they're wrong. You have to give people a way OUT. Everyone has an ego to maintain, everyone wants to feel good about themselves. One can't corner people with the irresistable light of passion, seriousness and committment and just expect them to agree...

Tom Coates  { 10.13.01 @ 3:48am }

» whenever i begin to think i am taking myself to seriously, i look at the quandry and try to decide if it requires that i be serious, or that i be sincere. after some thought, sincerity usually wins as well as quells the storm. sincerity jocelyn means what she says.
seriously jocelyn gets momunmental housecleaning accomplished, however.

jocelyn  { 10.13.01 @ 2:05pm }

» I'm too old and too tired to take anything seriously...except maybe the fact that I will retire in 5 years and 8 months. Then, maybe I'll have the energy for philosophical discourse!

– Momma  { 10.13.01 @ 6:40pm }

» i don't believe in a lot of things, but here's one in which i do: irony is boring. it's so much more refreshing to be sincere.

elizabitch  { 10.13.01 @ 7:25pm }

» : raised eyebrows : Might I ask what brought this rantage on?

No, *seriously!*


roe  { 10.13.01 @ 11:37pm }

» I believe that the best quality you can have is the ability to laugh at yourself.

People who 'take themselves too seriously' can't do that. At least in my perception of the term.

tracy  { 10.14.01 @ 12:26am }

» Well, it depends how well you can cope with being cut off at the knees, time and again, by the flippant and the snarky, by the antagonists and the ironists. Here's to quiet integrity.

– nick  { 10.16.01 @ 5:13pm }

» indeed without a modicum of seriousness we'll all be mired in a society of buffoonery and that would be no good. but accepting the fact that sometimes it's better to laugh than to stomp your feet is the beginning of not taking yourself too seriously.

in my opinion, the fact that this, and several other of your writings stem from a comment made about cheese is silly.

sc0tt  { 10.17.01 @ 7:15am }

» Hey sc0tt -- Actually, this post was motivated by generally waking up on the wrong side of the bed, coupled with being told that I take things too seriously by people who's emotional depth bottoms out at tearing up over an episode of ER for the last, oh, 10 years.

And those "other writings" you mention? That's a book, baby. And Dangerman's little stunt (which, again, has nothing to do with this post) was the perfect intro to a chapter about rules and hosting. Because every community builder's worst nightmare is a user like that: willfully, stubbornly, and self-righteously off topic. How you deal with those instances, and what you learn from the experience, is hugely important, no matter how seriously you take yourself.

Anyway. I feel much better now. Really.

Derek M. Powazek  { 10.17.01 @ 10:52am }

» hmmm. where to begin? first off: excellent point. i do believe that there are way too many of "our generation" that are trying to adopt the "american-badass" attitude: not giving a shit about anybody or anything, because it's a waste of time to them and they're WAY too important to bog themselves down with the worries or concerns of others. they'd rather just "look cool" because they're *supposedly* going against the grain.

"going against the grain," in my mind, IS embracing others, concerning yourself with the problems of others because, in this day and age, most people are too caught up in their own personal lives -- trying to get ahead at work, trying to be the perfect person, trying to create the perfect lifestyle for themselves -- that they miss out on the intimacy that can be shared with another person; whether it be a friend or loved one. that's the stuff that life should be made of.

of course, since we live in a society where the "how much money do you make? what series BMW do you drive? why should *i* give *you* the time of day; what can YOU do for ME?" questions take precedence over a simple "how are you doing?", it just goes to show that people care more about themselves than they do about anything else.

whatever happened to self-sacrifice? whatever happened to putting other people before yourself? whatever happened to treating people as you'd like to be treated?

god knows that my moms wouldn't let a day go by without saying those things to me.

i fear that i'm getting off-topic here (well, i think i started that from the get-go), so i'll just try to summarize and quit bothering ya. :)

i take myself seriously, simply because i think that my thoughts on most subjects are fairly dead-on, and most people that agree with my viewpoints are on a "higher plateau" of thinking and contemplation than the "people whose emotional depth bottoms out at tearing up over an episode of ER...". those kind of people you just can't explain anything to (nor can you expect them to understand), because they thrive on the inconsequential; they thrive on not giving a shit about anything substantial in the goings-ons in their or others' lives, that the only concern they have... is that - fooling themselves into thinking that they're A-okay because they don't give a shit about shit. it IS a sad state in which they live, and i wish that knew the answer that you're seeking... but i don't think there is a definitive answer.

i'm sorry. i just wasted 3 minutes of your time with my ramblings.

john e. mays  { 10.17.01 @ 4:41pm }


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