Why has the world become so interested in the mundane? While TikTok’s popularity has increased during the COVid shutdown, it is not an anomaly in social media. Take for instance the popularity of such Reddit category’s as “Mildly Interesting” or “TIL”. One could at least understand the interest if a bit of trivia is on offer but more often than not people are watching videos of other people performing mundane tasks. Occasionally someone in a video might have on an interesting outfit or perhaps master a specialized trick such as their cats catching ping-pong balls in the air. But why have we become so fascinated by watching other people create videos of seemingly odd behavior? Are we that bored during the pandemic that we reward the mundane with multiple viewings?
Human creativity knows no boundaries. Whether an artist is creating a fantastical piece of art that captures our imagination or a writer’s prose is transporting us to a long forgotten time, we have always had things to inspire us to reach further and dream bigger. Yet when it comes to the things on social media that so many people applaud or make “instant stars” overnight, I question where our creativity has gone. While this is not to say that there aren’t some truly amazing videos that circulate through various media, more often than not it’s the mundane that is garnering praise. But perhaps there in lies the secret – we are celebrating people that are brave enough to put their ordinary lives online for all the world to see. Perhaps the popularity comes from the fact that people who watch social media and up-vote these videos aspire to the reach the same fame without the rigor of training or study.
My fear is that rather than celebrating the exceptional we are allowing the ordinary to be enough. And if the ordinary is worth celebrating, then no wonder people are willing to refute science for the sake of “looking cool”. I had hoped that the shut down during the worldwide pandemic would inspire people to look deeper into their psyche and develop talents and tools to use when we re-enter the work space. Instead, people are happy to be on the sidelines watching others achieve two minutes of fame for the sake of what? Lost time will never be gained.
So mediocrity is just that – the mundane and it has captured the world’s attention.