I never liked going to parties in high school. I just didn’t get what was so fun about it. Later, in college, I felt the same way about going to out to the bars. The noise, horrible music, crowds, superficiality and omnipresent threat of drunken violence was extremely off-putting. Many of my friends thought I was strange because I didn’t engage in these activities, and didn’t seem to enjoy myself even when I did.
I eventually settled in with a like-minded group of friends who, rather than thinking me crazy for not wanting to hit the bars, understood exactly why I felt that way, because they felt that way, too.
For a few years, I was surrounded by people who enjoyed stimulating, intelligent conversation. It was an exciting time when learning new things and discussing intellectual ideas provided me with a tremendous amount of satisfaction. Being around smart people challenged me and made me smarter. Engaging in conversations on difficult subjects helped me understand them better and taught me how to express and defend my own ideas.
After graduation, my goal was to earn a PhD and become a college professor. I went to Japan in the mid-1990s with the intention of studying in a graduate program for a couple of years, after which I planned on returning to the U.S. and getting the PhD. I ended up working in corporate Japan long-term and got an MBA instead. Given the sorry state of college today, with its safe spaces and hostile attitudes toward free speech, I am glad I never achieved my original goal.
In contrast to my college days, living in Japan was, by and large, a lonely proposition. I found it next to impossible to make friends among the native population. Worse, I had almost no opportunities to meet other foreigners. In most positions I held, I was the one and only foreigner in the workplace.
In my experience, Japanese people mainly talk about work. A lot. They discuss work during work. They discuss work as they inhale their lunch so they can quickly get back to work. When drinking with coworkers after work, work is the main topic. This is all fine, as long you really like to talk about work. Or maybe something funny you saw on TV. The Japanese workplace is also a hotbed of gossip, another activity I loathe. For obvious reasons, I didn’t make much of an effort to make friends at work.
For many years, I thought the reason I was unable to make friends or enjoy life in the corporate world was because there was something wrong with me. Perhaps I just didn’t get it? Everything I did felt disingenuous and devoid of meaning. I felt uneasy going into the office in the morning and couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there at the end of the day.
Eventually it dawned on me: my unhappiness with the corporate world is identical to my dislike of the party and bar scene when I was younger. It is simply wrong for me. I was not born to sit at a desk all day, take orders from a clueless middle manager and feign interest in marketing and finance.
The corporate world is drab, soulless and boring. Globalism is a cancer that is destroying what good is left in human civilization. I cannot, in good conscience, accept money to perpetuate these anti-human systems, which propagate evil masked as mediocrity.
Honestly, does any of us do work that provides satisfaction and a sense of pride? How many of us have achieved self-actualization and are living an authentic life on our own terms? Many people lack the basic intelligence to even understand these questions, much less answer them. Many more of us have been brainwashed into accepting mediocrity and evil, as this is the only way we can earn enough to consume and survive.
We know it’s wrong, but the alternative is scary, and probably worse. So, we all just go along to get along. It’s safe and easy, but it is also fucking miserable. We look at people who say they love their job with a mixture of jealousy, annoyance and incredulity.
The older we get, the harder it becomes to escape the chains that enslave us. Taking chances seems foolish. We have families, responsibilities, and most importantly, debt. We dull the pain and try to mask uncomfortable reality with booze, dope, sports and lots and lots of TV. We live vicariously through celebrities and athletes, desperately trying to convince ourselves that selfies and social media make us somebody, too. We think we have something important to say, but so does everyone else. No one is listening and no one cares. All that matters is we continue to produce and consume.
At some point, we need to be honest with ourselves: this party is no longer fun. And it’s only going to get worse as we get older. Our efforts to keep up, get ahead and buy ourselves more freedom are paradoxically helping perpetuate the very system that is enslaving us and robbing us of everything we deem important, not the least of which is our precious time and energy.
If you don’t like this party, you’re not the only one. You’d be crazy not to want to run for the exit.