The Triumph of the Trivial

by Stephen Mills on October 8, 2011

The other day I went to a blog I regularly read and I was dumbfounded by the subject of the new article on display.  It was something like “How To Read More”.  I thought he has to be kidding right?  But no, in all seriousness the article was about how to read more with 10 strategies to accomplishing this amazing feat.  I’m not naming the blog because this celebration of the trivial is not unique to that blog.  It is widespread and I’ve been guilty of similar things myself.  I’m sure the author thinks he is writing something valuable.  But what struck me was wondering how many of the hundreds of thousands of subscribers to that blog thought it valuable?  Is anyone besides me thinking this is useless trivia?  I doubt it, at least not many.  Other than to actually pick up more reading material and turn more pages, I’m not sure exactly what it is I need to know.

I ended my dance with Facebook for the same reason, the celebration of the trivial.  Other than being a place where people perform for public consumption, the trivia was simply mind-numbing to me. We have got to a point in our culture of trivia that we think it is normal that one of the most popular blogs in the world needs to tell us how to read more.  Our culture is so saturated by useless trivia that we don’t even notice it anymore.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve read on some blog or elsewhere about how to declutter.  But seriously who needs it?  The one time I did a significant decluttering I went to my closet with a bunch of giant bags.  I went through all my clothes.  I think I eliminated about ⅔ of my clothes from my closet.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t use any advice from all that reading about decluttering but instead just used my common sense.  If I no longer wore it, I got rid of it.

I don’t like to watch TV much but my wife usually has it on and I can’t help but pick up on what is being said some of the time.  One of the most common phrases that comes out of my mouth any more is “And that is considered newsworthy?”  I live in the huge metropolitan city of Houston, TX.  One of the network stations here on the local news was telling us the other day that health inspectors found a cockroach at some restaurant I’ve never heard of.  Really?  In a city of this size that kind of trivial nonsense is what earns a time-slice of the airwaves?  Even without watching TV intentionally I seem to know way more than I want to about Ashton Kutcher’s and Demi Moore’s marital problems.

Don’t misunderstand me.  Everything does not have to be serious.  I’m a big fan of smart humor and I spend a good amount of time joking around.  I’m all in favor of relaxing and enjoying life.  But seriously do we need Gurus to tell us how to read?  Are we so freaking helpless we have to take a class in how to relax or buy a self-help book on the subject?  Can we not figure this simple stuff out for ourselves?  I guess I’m just becoming a cynical old crank, but good grief.  Let’s spend our time on more substantial things.  Do you really want to look back over the last few years of your life and think about how much time was spent on such useless trivia?  Try reading instead, and I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you how to do that.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

NomadicNeill October 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm

It’s giving people a false sense of achievement, it feels good without costing any effort.

“Yes, I read a couple of self-help blogs today… I’m closer to my goals”
NomadicNeill´s last [type] ..Can You Make Money Online Without Becoming A Get-Rich-Quick Guru?

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Jacq October 9, 2011 at 11:04 am

You think that’s bad? In one of his books, LB has a section on how to take a bath. To think I’ve been doing it for 46 years with moderate success (even though I don’t monitor said success) and didn’t know I should have a process beyond turning on the water. Maybe pouring a glass of wine. I must say that I like reading in the bath though.
Jacq´s last [type] ..Is blogging a waste of time (and possibly money)?

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karen October 10, 2011 at 6:28 am

I agree that this is bad..It give to the people wrong achievement..
karen´s last [type] ..A Little Advance Tax Planning Can Keep Most Arizonans Out of Hot Water with the IRS

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ella October 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Yep I agree with you, too bad people go after traffic instead of quality and value for their readers.
ella´s last [type] ..Meeting Minutes Examples

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Speed November 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Most of what people read is petty, pointless trash too. How many people will read Ernest Becker’s “The Denial of Death,” a book which might just force them to re-evaluate their whole existence?

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