I don’t think most people are really that honest when they’re applying to jobs or being evaluated in some way, because the thought of baring your soul out to someone and then being rejected is too much for any of us to bear. I have a friend whose great passion is going into medicine, and yet her answers to the question of “who do you want to be” from strangers or those probing little forms that you have to fill out for various purposes in life, are the most sterile, generic answers you can imagine. Read them and you’d get the impression she’s just going through the motions, or that she’s the most cheerful yet shallow person around. Her job and volunteer and university applications don’t even begin to even approach the true recesses of her soul. Probably it’s the same for me too, or for all of us. Our impossible hopes or niggling self-doubts or deepest passions can never be articulated in 500-word blurbs.
Yet this is how we’re judged. This is who we are. We are not living, breathing human beings with ideas and layers and dreams; we are our resume. We are our GPA. Matt Smith is a 3.1, and so is obviously inferior to Sally Lawrence who is a 3.7. “What do you do?” has replaced “Who are you?” Can our GPA measure our kindness and the quality of our character? Our pride comes from our list of accomplishments, instead of our quality as a human being. If you make $100k-plus a year, have a beautiful house and a nice car, you’ve made it, brother. You are the envy of all of us. You are our envy.
This is our society. The efficiency that we hold so dear has stripped us of our humanity. Who are you now? You are: coffee house barista for 1 year. Studying psychology at U of T, GPA 3.5. SIN 513 993 982. And the arbiters look at your fact sheet and say, Nope, sorry, you’re not who we’re looking for. We just know that someone else would be better at serving mushy hamburgers than you. I’m afraid your accomplishments don’t meet our requirements at this time.
Who are you now? You’re a number in a government database. You’re your tax deductions for last year. You’re a series of rants on the blogosphere. Probably this explains our 21st-century mania with sharing: we share pictures of our meals, our moment-to-moment thoughts, our music and our clothes. We don’t want to be forgotten. If no one’s thinking about us, do we even exist? Our surface thoughts and tastes can be shared, but never our souls.
This mania, to be remembered, to be accomplished, takes a toll on us. We’re exhausted. We don’t sleep. We slave away the night on distractions, on work, on the stuff that doesn’t really matter in the end. We miss something. Maybe we miss honesty. Maybe we miss feeling like a human being, with ideas and layers and dreams.