Up With Mediocrity

 Posted by at 11:58  Up With
Nov 032013
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Brace Yourself for the Mediocre

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“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.” Joseph Heller

Coots want to honor mediocrity today. It is easy to take mediocrity for granted. It looks so easy but it is not. People fail to appreciate the difficulty in maintaining an even keel in life; charting that difficult course between accomplishment and blithering idiocy. Most people just  can’t manage this. Try as they might, they fail. They either excel at something without even noticing  or expose their stupidity because they don’t know how to maintain proper discipline.  Humans are complex and operate on many levels which makes the seemingly simple task of being mediocre almost impossible. Most people have some dimension of their being which stands out. There seems always to be some talent or skill which is unique or memorable and most people just don’t have the skills to cover it up. This is why for most people being mediocre is impossible. No matter how hard they try to tone down those areas, they just can’t do it. Something stands out.

Only Masters Achieve True Mediocrity

Only masters can become truly mediocre. The truly mediocre maintain a marvelous balance moderating any aspects of their life where they risk being noticed or even worse being considered exceptional. In the old days,  the world was run by such people. We used to talk about getting through college with gentlemen C’s and it was a genuine compliment respecting the sense of balance and mastery to stay on that narrow path for four years without once doing anything memorable. These were people you could respect to serve you well as elected officials, bankers, insurance agents or teachers. They didn’t have an agenda. They weren’t driven by ego or ideology. You could rely on their discretion because they had worked so hard over their lives to avoid taking a position or adopting an agenda. They had successfully beaten down any extremes of achievement or talent. They would never overshadow you or make you embarrassed.

That was then, this is now.

It’s a whole new ballgame today. Nobody has the discipline and conviction to achieve mediocrity. Without that moderation and discipline, people just let their abilities run amok, exposing incredible gaps in judgment and ability on the one hand and total disregard for modesty and decorum on the other. These days everybody operates on the ‘Lake Woebegon” standard where everybody is above average. People go out of their way to demonstrate the skills and abilities that are truly exceptional no matter how little value those talents might actually have for society or how it exposes their stupidity.   They even consider making utter fools of themselves an accomplishment since they mistake attention for appreciation. And thus today we have a world where everybody wants to be special and unique even if that uniqueness has no value to anybody else or brands them as a clown.

Can we turn back the clock to better days?

This Coot would like to see a return to the civil and comfortable world full of carefully modulated, mediocre people. Those were the good old days.  Life was simple.  Mediocrity was given its proper respect.  It would be great to return to those better times.  Break down all the egocentric meism that infects society and show people the value of a non-threatening mediocre society.   People should be recognized and appreciated for the ability to moderate any exceptional abilities they have down to a unexceptional mediocrity.

Stop the Meism

Coots want to stop all the proliferation of honors degrees celebrating the exceptional and show respect for the good old gentleman’s C student. The ones that ran our world and kept in on an even keel for so long. Enough of this egocentric self worship. Bring back the serenity and happiness that comes with a world full of committedly mediocre people.  Are you willing to join the mediocre bandwagon? What are your ideas about how we can return to those better times?




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Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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  10 Responses to “Up With Mediocrity”

  1. Hey, thanks for mentioning me in your post. If there is one goal that I have, Ralph, it is to rise to the level of mediocrity. A solid C average was what I strived for in college. Not only did it keep me out of Vietnam, but got me a nice cushie government job later in life. Excellent post, and a standard everyone can achieve.

  2. BI,
    Thanks for the comment and the support for the gold standard of mediocrity for life. Despite your exceptionally non-descript life to date, I have to suggest that these days you seem to be veering dangerously into the noticeable. I’d hate to see the work of a lifetime destroyed by a few conspicuous acts.

  3. I’ve usually found myself to be mediocre at mediocrity, except on those occasions when I degenerate into barely functional.

  4. Bob,
    I guess that that claim gives you a pass but more likely you are just a demonstration that some people just don’t have mediocrity in them.

  5. “They even consider making utter fools of themselves an accomplishment since they mistake attention for appreciation.”

    I’ve been privately railing about this for years. At least for blogging years.

    A fair number of people assume that the world breathlessly awaits their every utterance, with (of course) bated breath. Strangely, this is one of those “realities” such people claim to create. Breathe into existence, so to speak.

    Ok, back to my mediocre programming…

  6. Dave,
    Don’t sell yourself short. If you don’t do that mediocre programming, who will?

  7. Oh, at last! I fond another soul that understands, and appreciates MEDIOCRITY!
    And so well said too. I never could quite capture the true value of my mediocrity, but you’ve put it into words so well.
    Keep up the good (mediocre) work!

  8. sekanblogger,
    Thanks for the kind appreciation for my mediocre efforts to embrace and appreciate the wonder of mediocrity. Without it, life would be full of unending frustration and despair.

  9. Love this; thank you.

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