Opinion | In Praise of Mediocrity - The New York Times


90 bookmarks. First posted by aebraddy 11 weeks ago.


I’m a little surprised by how many people tell me they have no hobbies. It may seem a small thing, but — at the risk of sounding grandiose — I see it as a sign of a civilization in decline. The idea of leisure, after all, is a hard-won achievement; it presupposes that we have overcome the exigencies of brute survival. Yet here in the United States, the wealthiest country in history, we seem to have forgotten the importance of doing things solely because we enjoy them.

Yes, I know: We are all so...
ideas  productivity 
6 weeks ago by doneata
..Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur. The population of our country now seems divided between the semipro hobbyists (some as devoted as Olympic athletes) and those who retreat into the passive, screeny leisure that is the signature of our technological moment.

..In a way that we rarely appreciate, the demands of excellence are at war with what we call freedom. For to permit yourself to do only that which you are good at is to be trapped in a cage whose bars are not steel but self-judgment. Especially when it comes to physical pursuits, but also with many other endeavors, most of us will be truly excellent only at whatever we started doing in our teens. What if you decide in your 40s, as I have, that you want to learn to surf? What if you decide in your 60s that you want to learn to speak Italian? The expectation of excellence can be stultifying.

..Lest this sound suspiciously like an elaborate plea for people to take more time off from work — well, yes. Though I’d like to put the suggestion more grandly: The promise of our civilization, the point of all our labor and technological progress, is to free us from the struggle for survival and to make room for higher pursuits. But demanding excellence in all that we do can undermine that; it can threaten and even destroy freedom. It steals from us one of life’s greatest rewards — the simple pleasure of doing something you merely, but truly, enjoy.
Lifestyle 
7 weeks ago by AfroMaestro
But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.

If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon. If you’re a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following. When your identity is linked to your hobby — you’re a yogi, a surfer, a rock climber — you’d better be good at it, or else who are you?

Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur. The population of our country now seems divided between the semipro hobbyists (some as devoted as Olympic athletes) and those who retreat into the passive, screeny leisure that is the signature of our technological moment.
health  psychology  via:ayjay 
7 weeks ago by jfbeatty
But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.

If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon. If you’re a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following. When your identity is linked to your hobby — you’re a yogi, a surfer, a rock climber — you’d better be good at it, or else who are you?

Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur. The population of our country now seems divided between the semipro hobbyists (some as devoted as Olympic athletes) and those who retreat into the passive, screeny leisure that is the signature of our technological moment.
health  psychology 
7 weeks ago by ayjay
"The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure."
Interesting read.
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7 weeks ago by mlotspaih
In Praise of Mediocrity
The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure.
7 weeks ago by reagan2000
via Pocket - In Praise of Mediocrity - Added October 09, 2018 at 07:59AM
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8 weeks ago by matt.grieser
via Pocket
IFTTT  Pocket 
8 weeks ago by kissane
> But demanding excellence in all that we do can undermine that; it can threaten and even destroy freedom. It steals from us one of life’s greatest rewards — the simple pleasure of doing something you merely, but truly, enjoy.
re-read  what-we-believe-in  psychology 
9 weeks ago by arnalyse
Opinion | In Praise of Mediocrity | In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
9 weeks ago by zelle
Opinion | In Praise of Mediocrity - The New York Times via Instapaper https://ift.tt/2R9FooT
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9 weeks ago by craniac
Good god, yes.

“Yet here in the United States, the wealthiest country in history, we seem to have forgotten the importance of doing things solely because we enjoy them.

Yes, I know: We are all so very busy. Between work and family and social obligations, where are we supposed to find the time?

But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.”
success  how_we_work  perfection  hobbies  how_we_live  history  america  culture 
9 weeks ago by alexpriest
Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur.
Kommentar 
9 weeks ago by amenthes
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
9 weeks ago by seufelipe
The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. I’m a little surprised by how many people tell me they have no hobbies. It may seem a small thing, but — at the risk of sounding grandiose — I see it as a sign of a civilization in decline. via Pocket
IFTTT  Pocket 
10 weeks ago by domingogallardo
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by flobosg
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by urbansheep
In a way that we rarely appreciate, the demands of excellence are at war with what we call freedom. For to permit yourself to do only that which you are good at is to be trapped in a cage whose bars are not steel but self-judgment. Especially when it comes to physical pursuits, but also with many other endeavors, most of us will be truly excellent only at whatever we started doing in our teens. What if you decide in your 40s, as I have, that you want to learn to surf? What if you decide in your 60s that you want to learn to speak Italian? The expectation of excellence can be stultifying.
inspiration-list 
10 weeks ago by christopherming
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by sricha27
But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time.
health  life  psychology 
10 weeks ago by basus
Lest this sound suspiciously like an elaborate plea for people to take more time off from work — well, yes. Though I’d like to put the suggestion more grandly: The promise of our civilization, the point of all our labor and technological progress, is to free us from the struggle for survival and to make room for higher pursuits. But demanding excellence in all that we do can undermine that; it can threaten and even destroy freedom. It steals from us one of life’s greatest rewards — the simple pleasure of doing something you merely, but truly, enjoy.
leisure  hobbies  excellence  competitiveness  capitalism  work  neoliberalism  dctagged  dc:creator=WuTim 
10 weeks ago by petej
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by than
But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.
Instapaper 
10 weeks ago by edmadrid
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by danbee
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by divigation
Opinion | In Praise of Mediocrity – The New York Times
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10 weeks ago by jackysee
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by breau
I’m a little surprised by how many people tell me they have no hobbies. It may seem a small thing, but — at the risk of sounding grandiose — I see it as a sign of a civilization in decline. The idea of leisure, after all, is a hard-won achievement; it presupposes that we have overcome the exigencies of brute survival. Yet here in the United States, the wealthiest country in history, we seem to have forgotten the importance of doing things solely because we enjoy them.
politics  health  life  argument 
10 weeks ago by kmt
RT : "In praise of mediocrity"
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10 weeks ago by mathewi
In Praise of Mediocrity // I like this a lot. I also think we underestimate two things:
• b…
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10 weeks ago by ampressman
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by AramZS
In praise of mediocrity
loopinsight  spike 
10 weeks ago by edan
The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure.
life  excellence  nytimes 
10 weeks ago by jorgebarba
If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon. If you’re a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following. When your identity is linked to your hobby — you’re a yogi, a surfer, a rock climber — you’d better be good at it, or else who are you? [...]

Especially when it comes to physical pursuits, but also with many other endeavors, most of us will be truly excellent only at whatever we started doing in our teens. What if you decide in your 40s, as I have, that you want to learn to surf? What if you decide in your 60s that you want to learn to speak Italian? The expectation of excellence can be stultifying.
health 
10 weeks ago by terry
'There is a real and pure joy, a sweet, childlike delight, that comes from just learning and trying to get better'
from twitter_favs
10 weeks ago by carlfish
Very few people pursuit hobbies just because they enjoy the activity
ml 
10 weeks ago by simsalis
“But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them. Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time. Our ‘hobbies,’ if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.”
tim-wu 
10 weeks ago by jasdev
"In praise of mediocrity"
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10 weeks ago by peterhoneyman
"In praise of mediocrity"
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10 weeks ago by fkbarrett
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by marcinignac
In Praise of Mediocrity The pursuit of excellence has infiltrated and corrupted the world of leisure. Mr. Wu is the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic…
from instapaper
10 weeks ago by ntdef
It's my love of disc golf in the form of a NYT opinion piece.
health 
10 weeks ago by pb
The promise of our civilization, the point of all our labor and technological progress, is to free us from the struggle for survival and to make room for higher pursuits. But demanding excellence in all that we do can undermine that; it can threaten and even destroy freedom. It steals from us one of life’s greatest rewards — the simple pleasure of doing something you merely, but truly, en
work 
10 weeks ago by vlandham