This episode examines the subtle madness of crowds; why ‘upgrading your peer-group’ is a recipe for disaster if you don’t understand what it really means; how to help others without them becoming dependent on you; setting strong personal boundaries; and how to avoid the chill embrace of the Success Vampires of this world.
Seneca was appalled at the blood-sports of Rome, but not because of the violence itself. He warned that if we join the crowd and lose ourselves in its midst, we subtly but continuously poison ourselves. Substitute reality TV, political rallies and social justice warrior stand-offs for the Colosseum, and the same drip-drip-drip of poison continues to infect us today.
So are we consuming mental junk-food? Or can we study ‘the crowd’ to learn something more fundamental and useful about the human condition? We think the latter, and in this episode we explain how we can and why we should.
Seneca tells us that we can hardly cloister ourselves away from society, but that we must be very selective about the company we chose. How careful are you being today?
Going out into the world inevitably means meeting people who can seem so much more confident, smart, and successful than us – and so the slippery slope of comparison begins… if we let it. We set out the strategies we need to have in place to stop that happening, by building a strong sense of self which isn’t reliant on others for validation. It’s not easy, but it’s absolutely essential.
This isn’t about ‘upgrading your peer-group’, as entrepreneurs and business coaches like to call it. They advocate becoming a Success Vampire and feeding off the blood of those who’ve actually achieved something. No – this is about true mentorship, which means including people in your life that you can help; teaching as well as learning.
It’s when we help others that we truly learn about ourselves; and it’s when we teach something that we really, deeply learn it. We improve ourselves as we strive to help improve others.
On top of all that, Jon and Dre ponder whether they’ve lost or found themselves in the crowd, in which we find both the best and the worst of human nature; Dre explains how porn taught him to be dynamite in the sack; and Jon comes up with a graphic analogy about all this philosophy that will probably haunt him into an early grave.
- Do crowds unleash our inner savage?
- Why social life might as well be ’10 Reasons To Become Autistic’
- How to avoid feeling awkward and defensive when challenged
- Does watching violence poison our minds?
- Double-blind Jesus studies
- Success Vampires and how to spot them
- Does art exist if there’s no one around to see it?
Find Out More:
- Like us on Facebook to ask for the Audible download code for Seneca’s letters
- The full text for free on WikiSource
- Ryan Holiday’s superb and accessible book on Stoicism: The Obstacle is the Way
- Tim Ferriss’s brilliant TED talk on ‘fear setting’ and Stoicism
- Jon Ronson’s book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed
- Jon’s article for High Existence on self-harm