form and content

Many of the common place ideas we have accepted our whole lives are becoming irrelevant in the changing world. We are at the tail end of an ideological period, and things that were once relevant like everyone going to college or buying a house no longer represent the best advice.

The smart phone apps which should make our lives easier, more efficient, and better make us more exhausted, scared of showing our true selves, and chronically connected in an unhealthy way instead. Those high paying jobs we were promised after college where we could flex our mind muscle and do good work that made a difference never materialized. We were told to follow our dreams, but no one told us that dreams are irrelevant when you have debt and bills to pay. What matters is making ends meet, and not many are lucky enough to make their passion a sustainable career. Fundamentally, there is a problem with our actions and the result of those actions.

So, what happened? We live in a time where form and content do not work together, but are mismatched. We are sold ideas about what something is going to do for us (the form), but in reality (content) the result is different. Why does the form of our life not match up to the content of our life, and, more important, how do we understand the form of things, their true purpose, and chase actions that make our lives better in a pursuit of some ultimate end?

This problem of a form and content mismatch started a very long time ago and continues still today. Today, form is driven by marketing, because in our over saturated world filled with too many people drowning from too much of everything, we needed a good way to get through to people. When a concept reached critical mass, often propelled forward by marketing, and generated enough hype a product or service made a killing.

The goal became creating a form that would connect with people, instead of a form that would match reality. At one point the form might have matched reality, as in the case of pursuing a higher education. Before the market of post secondary education became saturated, going to college made sense. You really could get paid more than a manual labor job. But, not necessarily anymore. We have become a highly educated work force that works jobs which require us not to think.

Form, though; is a concept, and deeply ingrained societal concepts take a very long time to adjust. Ideas follow their own cycle of birth and death, and an idea rises from infancy, gaining popularity, and reaching critical mass where it peaks and becomes so widespread that a thought to the contrary is taken as hypocrisy. But, the rise comes with a fall, as people begin asking themselves, “is this true?”

An idea that once seemed fundamental to a society begins crumbling, and in the void created new ideas take shape. The crumbling takes a long time. Changing culture takes a long time. As ideas fall, and new ones take their place, the new forms realign more closely with reality, at least for a time. Are you picking up where this is headed? Everything is cyclical, even ideas.

Your best defense against becoming victim to mismatched forms is to question everything. Get comfortable with the fact that the structure of our society is built on ideas, and that ideas shape our actions. No idea is so fundamental that it cannot change. Just look at all of the countries throughout the world that have collapsed, only to be rebuilt on a brand new government or political system. Since we have not endured a massive collapse and restructure the impermanence of ideas is difficult to see. We have not had the grace of longevity and overcoming upheaval to temper our ideas.

We become connected and deeply invested in ideas because of how we were raised. Had the idea of the time been something completely different, you would feel just as passionately about that instead. Hold all with a grain of salt, realizing that the idea will pass and something new will appear, and trust yourself. Even if others think different from you, believe that your own ideas hold merit. Believe that form and content can align.

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