When we start to weed out our rationalizations and excuses we find that, sometimes, our excuse-making can be insidiously subtle.
I have noticed an uptick in the use of buzzwords lately in media that seem to reinforce self-defeating behavior. I will list 3 big ones here.
Triple H (not the pro wrestler):
1)Hipster. Originally, this word was coined to describe bourgeois white people who would spend ridiculous amounts of money to try to appear “hip” within (usually poor) black jazz circles. Gradually, it came to be used to describe anyone who tried too hard and came across as pretentious. Then it was used to describe nihilistic-minded people who were precious and high brow about low-brow interests — such as collecting tighty whitey underwear or pez dispensers.
Now, “hipster” is used to passive-aggressively dismiss anyone who threatens one’s sense of self-esteem with their discerning tastes and/or comfort being ridiculous in public. I have witnessed people from all walks of life described as “hipsters”, from goths to new agers to suburban soccer moms to frat boys at the beer garden. In most cases, it is a cynical way of rationalizing one’s own refusal to be discerning and/or inability to have fun being ridiculous in public. It’s a form of excuse-making intended to boost one’s (lazy) self up while tearing down someone else who makes effort (even if that “effort” is ridiculous).
2)Hippie. An older acquaintance of mine who fashions himself a “Beat” complained about hippies on his social media outlet of choice and I asked him what he meant by “hippie”. He described phony “flower children” who jumped on the bandwagon (back in the day) because it became popular and in doing so refused to take baths, wore beads and rags, and refused to be anything but wishy-washy in all situations. That sounded fair. I asked him for a specific example today and he couldn’t provide one.
In modern usage, “hippie” seems to be a derogatory swipe at anyone who starts to sincerely care about improving themselves, their communities, and the planet itself but have only taken the first few baby steps (trying to fit in with people who think this way in order to organize and find some truth in their lives with other people). Most of the time, the people snidely labeling others “hippies” are doing so because they are too cynical and too scared to try caring for themselves and participating constructively in their communities. They tend to be too nihilistic and self-obsessed (minus any self-loving) to embrace the idea that their habitat (and the survival of the species and other species) is worth caring about. Yes, the people who first stumble onto this path tend to be adorably naive, but swiping at them out of fear and self-loathing might not be the most enlightened approach. Instead, maybe try figuring out why people taking the time to actually care about important things feels so threatening.
When I used to suffer from severe, chronic, clinical Depression, I fancied the idea of wiping out civilization, rationalizing it with “the world would be better off without us.” I find it funny that, after curing myself of oozy Depression, I want to keep humanity around.
3)Hypocrite. This word is consistently thrown at the crabs trying to climb out of the bucket by the crabs at the bottom who can’t get enough of a grip to pull them down. I can’t count the number of times I have witnessed someone making a sincere effort to improve themselves called a hypocrite because he didn’t get every detail and aspect of his life perfect the first time. The vegetarian who eats gummy bears, the person with a workout routine who doesn’t breathe with emphasis on the diaphragm, the volunteer at the homeless shelter who refuses to give money to bums in her neighborhood (for fear of being followed home), the meditator who tries too hard, the self-help enthusiast who doesn’t do (all) the exercises in the books, the public speaker who gets nervous, etc… I have heard these kinds of people labeled hypocrites and many others with similar “and, but’s” in their lifestyle choices.
The truth is that it is better to make a sincere effort and fall short in some regards than it is to do nothing or, worse, to try to make people who make effort feel guilt or remorse (or social isolation at making an effort.
People who are too lazy-minded to dedicate themselves to living sound principles like to tear down people who conspicuously make an effort. It’s just another way of rationalizing a failure mindset + lifestyle and making excuses. Why? It’s a lot easier to attack someone than it is to learn from them or, better, to reach out and help them.
To be fair, there are people who conspicuously highlight themselves as being on the path of improvement and sincere effort who are legitimately putting on a show and being hipstery hippie-crites. These people feel that the only way to boost their self-esteem is to show everyone what “great people” they pretend to be and use the appearance of this path as a way of saying “see how much better than you I am!” This phenomenon does indeed exist and it’s grating to witness. But, in my experience, this kind of person is a much smaller minority than you see on TV. Most people who try to improve themselves or the world around them do it because they are invested in their evolution and the betterment of the lives of others.
“Rubbing it in people’s faces” or being “preachy” can happen when people new to this path start experiencing the benefits and want to share with the world but don’t know how. People who have been vegan for a few months and get past the difficult “withdrawal” period are a great example of this. Having near-limitless energy and an overall feeling of joy and well-being (after years of feeling heavy and tired with gross skin and frequent diarrhea/constipation) can be exciting and the urge to share it with everyone is understandable — but it’s also obnoxious.
I was vegan for 8 years and, holy smokes, if you can do it and maintain a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet, it feels like you’ve discovered a miracle or developed a superpower. I stopped being a vegan because I love travel and it’s too much of a hassle to keep up in some foreign lands. I sometimes found being occasionally surrounded by obsessed veganites to be too annoying for my lifestyle. And I have an unhealthy nostalgia for diners and diner food and enjoy having meetings in diners.
I try to eat as healthy as I can about 85% of the time and feel great about 85% of the time. I’ll take 85%.
But to circle back around to the point: be careful what language you use and try not to passive-aggressively attack people making an effort just because you don’t feel like trying in your own life.
Why not spend that energy on building the life you want instead?
What other examples of marginalizing people with buzzwords have you seen?