I started off reading this essay a bit curious about what it could actually *be* about. With a subtitle like ‘Why, in the entire history of human life, did awesomeness become the great virtue of our age (and suckiness its vice)?‘ you can’t blame me. And then it was on Aeon, an otherwise fairly staid, philosophical, rational magazine. Sort of like an Onion article but in a publication like the Economist, if you know what you mean. I was intrigued.
Suffice to say it’s an awesome piece. Read the article to know how that’s actually the biggest compliment anyone can give it.
In particular, I liked the way Nick Riggle positions suckiness:
The deepest suckiness comes from a kind of bad faith, from a false sense of culture and community as a static or grey thing, simply there whenever you need it, your bottomless source of connection. The sucky person doesn’t understand that social bonds need light and water and nutrients. They aren’t something you can just pay for and find waiting on Netflix. This kind of existential disposition to suck is the kind that can do more than cast a pall over a party or add a sour note to an otherwise beautiful connection. It can actually make others feel that the spirit of awesomeness is not worth tapping into, that being game is not essential, or that you can just let others bring everyone together. It can make one cynical and unenthusiastic. It’s the black hole of the suckiverse.
All in all, the piece captures not only a bit of modern language but the behaviour that makes its usage so much a part of modern fabric: the universal human need to celebrate the positive, and the reason why we want to do it: because we all have an ‘existential disposition to suck’. The Netflix analogy of suckiness is excellent – very ‘instant gratification’, which despite awesomeness being a modern thing, it isn’t – its impact is something that’s much longer lasting. Is the need for instant gratification sucky? Yes, in a way, I suppose – and I’m often guilty of it.
Made me think of the tools and services we use to try and be more awesome, and less sucky. That’s one of the simplest ways of explaining the success of many apps, I’ll wager!