The simplest and safest way to live your life is by cultivating “sameness”. Look around at what successful people do, and do the same thing. All your cool friends go to college? Go to college. They all work in a start-up? Work in a start-up. All your middle-age friends take up Pilates, take up Pilates.
At an individual level, this works remarkably well. Play it safe. Do what others do… and I can always guarantee a comfortable middle-class existence.
There is an alternative to cultivating sameness and that’s cultivating weirdness. This is slightly different from cultivating “your weirdness”. I could wear a funny hat. That would get me attention. But my purpose in cultivating weirdness is not to “look different” but rather to “think different” (as Apple liked to say). Cultivating weirdness is not the same as joining an “alternative scene”. That would be another instance of “sameness”.
On social media, instead of following just people who think like me… I avoid people who think like me. Instead, I seek extremists in all directions. This means that, yes, I do end up reading for hours people who take the bible literally. I am routinely exposed to people who are openly white supremacists.
I also try to be slightly out-of-sync, but with a purpose. Is gardening out-of-fashion? Interesting. Let me be a gardener. Is everyone wearing a smartphone? Interesting. Let me go without a smartphone.
This way of life is terribly inefficient. That’s because accepted ideas are much more likely to be useful than weird ideas. But my goal is not to be right. What I hope to provide is a critical reflection. In other words, I don’t mind being wrong as long as I am wrong in an interesting way.