Essay On Mediocre

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Our “hobbies,” if that’s even the word for them anymore, have become too serious, too demanding, too much an occasion to become anxious about whether you are really the person you claim to be.

If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon.

Tim Wu (@superwuster) is a law professor at Columbia, the author of “The Attention Merchants: The Epic Struggle to Get Inside Our Heads” and a contributing opinion writer.

I think this derailment occurs to many non-professional writers and it makes me very sad.

There are depths of experience that come with mastery.

But there is also a real and pure joy, a sweet, childlike delight, that comes from just learning and trying to get better.

Lest this sound suspiciously like an elaborate plea for people to take more time off from work — well, yes.

Though I’d like to put the suggestion more grandly: The promise of our civilization, the point of all our labor and technological progress, is to free us from the struggle for survival and to make room for higher pursuits.

But there’s a deeper reason, I’ve come to think, that so many people don’t have hobbies: We’re afraid of being bad at them.

Or rather, we are intimidated by the expectation — itself a hallmark of our intensely public, performative age — that we must actually be skilled at what we do in our free time.

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