20 year old diary entries of Mr Nobody:

Feb 9th 1997

I’m so excited! I can’t believe what I’ve come up with: it’s so obvious, so simple! How come nobody thought about this before? Maybe they have, actually, but never did anything about it? Ah, no way! Nobody could ever pass up an opportunity like this! I’m going to talk to my friends about it, but I’ll be all casual. You know, like, hey guys, what would you think if this were done? Their reactions, man!

Feb 10th 1997

Today was pretty uneventful. I spoke to my friends, they thought it wasn’t such a hot idea. I quote ‘That’s a crock of sh*t!’ I don’t like swearing, even in my own personal diary. It makes a person sound uneducated. Add the eff word everywhere and you’ll never need another adjective!
Ah well, they’re probably jealous. That’s what somebody told me once: if someone doesn’t fully agree with you, they’re jealous of you. It did seem silly at the time, but it turned out to be a pretty accurate observation. I’m going to keep my distance from these guys.

Feb 14th 1997

I told Sarah. But my sister was so wrapped up in her work, all she managed was a feeble nod. She has a thesis to compose, I really shouldn’t have bothered her.
I’m going to watch another movie: I’m binge-watching! None of them have really fresh ideas, though. I should write a movie plot for these guys.
I don’t have a Valentine. I stopped talking to my friends, remember? Kind of includes Janine as well.

Feb 20th 1997

Yep, took the huge step, told my parents. My mother was pleased. Dad guffawed (check it out, new vocabulary word). ‘Good luck getting that going, son!’ he remarked, and disappeared behind the tabloid again. The headline screamed ‘READ THE LATEST SCANDALS: STAR X AND CELEBRITY Y CAUGHT HOLDING HANDS!’
I really hate these tabloids.

Feb 21st 1997

I looked over the idea. It doesn’t appeal to me anymore. Maybe I shouldn’t have told all those people. No wonder I got such sparse positive appraisal. No wonder nobody thought of this! Plus, Sarah got back to me today. She said she had heard the idea but it would be best to abandon it. There really is no use in trying to propagate it. She’s right. My parents were right. Heck, my friends were right! It’s useless discussing this now!

We’re in a fast-paced age that is thriving on ideas and individuality. Where teamwork was once the key to stepping forward, an individual is regarded as the most powerful entity. When this powerful entity starts undermining and underestimating itself, we have a serious problem.

Enter: the 21st century youth. He is currently enrolled in a top educational institute. His parents are well-off and they’re paying his college expenses. His grades are okay, and he has managed to get a part-time job at his father’s company. Every single day, when he wakes up, he first checks his phone.

On Facebook, he sees:

Great job! Need an accolade?

On Instagram, his friends have shared the following meme:

I’m sure a thousand college students are highly motivated now!

His Twitter page is loaded with pictures like:

I don’t know which is more ‘hilarious’ – putting yourself down or comparing yourself to a machine.

Scrolling through his Linked-In profile (which is supposedly a very professional platform), he is mildly surprised to see posts like:

Your money defines how much you can travel and experience? Way to go!

Every single day, this 20 year old (with his whole life ahead of him) is constantly exposed to media that promotes:

  • Putting yourself down
  • Degrading yourself
  • Signalling to others what a loser you are

And this media celebrates the art of self-degradation.

It is trendy to make yourself look like a fool.

When a powerful individual is convinced that everybody around him acts and feels this way, he’ll be convinced that this is normal. This kind of behaviour: setting multiple alarms because you know how you suck at waking up on time, living on two-minute noodles because your body is not worth a healthy diet, stealing a few minutes of sleep during classes because you know you’ll get terrible grades either way; it becomes the norm. It is incorporated into our daily lives.

I used to be part of conversations like these (guilty!). In fact, I’d contribute heartily with my two cents’ worth of how we’re so hopeless and we should never expect any better. Something clicked though and I began to realise how these random conversations were affecting me. The process was insidious and its effects reverberated everywhere, winding their way into my perspectives, my opinions, and my life. I was destroying myself, and all to get a laugh or two at the latest ‘I’m such a loser!’ joke. Steering myself away from people and conversations heading that way, I can now see unprecedented changes in how I think and perceive things.

In this era of ideas and innovations, every person matters. It took one Abdul Sattar Edhi, one Steve Jobs, and one Muhammad Yunus. I really doubt these three spent days and nights with friends, discussing their latest failures at life in general over cups of coffee or mugs of beer. They believed in their own abilities and they managed to show it through their achievements. Two of these prodigies have passed away, but people still attest to their brilliance. Such was their dedication and commitment.

Three prodigies of the 21st century: (from left to right) Steve Jobs, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Muhammad Yunus

Of course, on the other extreme, you have people who are bent on making sure you know what trials and tribulations they have gone through to get where they are now. They want you to know how they’ve been betrayed and broken down, but still pushed through it all. My sister and I amuse ourselves with posts like these:

Please don’t judge me too much for finding this funny.

Hey, life is tough. Even though I haven’t really experienced much, I am a 21 year old with a chronic autoimmune condition that usually affects 60 year olds. It’s very trying (the side effects of steroids are quite a hassle), but I don’t complain about it and my struggles and God knows what else (in fact, most of my family and friends have no idea what is wrong with me, besides the apparent side effects like the lovely moon-face). Because there is no point in doing that. At the end of the day, you’ll only feel sorry for yourself.

You are larger than life. Play your role to the fullest!

Here is the last diary entry of Mr Nobody. He is 42 years old now. He stopped writing in his journal because it was becoming a bit of a burden.

Feb 12th 2017

Little Patricia! She’s a real goddam laugh. Made me laugh, told me she’s thinking about this big idea. Told her not to worry her pretty little head too much about it. Nobody cares. I think I said that as well. She looked sad as hell. Can’t do nothing much about that. She’ll know soon enough. This world is cruel. Gotta protect my little daughter.
Divorce going well. Patricia visits her mummy next week.
Job going good. Don’t really enjoy working with mechanical parts, but it puts bread and butter on the table.
Sarah’s doing great, spoke to her today. Her little devil of a son is pestering her about the latest computer game. What is it with kids and shooting games anyway? Friends doing well as well. Most of the boys are travelling like crazy. And get this – some of the girls are still single and working. Times have changed! Back in the days, getting married was all that was on a girl’s mind! Janine’s married though. Sounded happy.
Still don’t know where I put that damned little gossip mag. Has some pretty hot stuff sometimes. Very entertaining.

The Great Dichotomy