Comments 6

  1. Kristan Hoffman December 4, 2012 6:37 pm

    Hm. I have a problem with that comic — or rather, the mindset that it (purposely or not) promotes.

    The question is, What's wrong with being unremarkably average?

    “Average” by its very definition is what most people must be. So why aren't we encouraging people to embrace that, to understand what a value it is, to be happy and proud of themselves for their quiet but solid achievements? Society may be carried forward by remarkable, exceptional people; but it is CARRIED by the unremarkably average masses.

    Put another way: Perhaps the ant colony would be nothing without its queen, but what would the queen be without all the other ants?

    I don't mind a swift kick in the pants — lord knows I need them often enough — but I do have some problems with kicks that come at the expense of others (implicitly or otherwise).

  2. rose December 4, 2012 7:41 pm

    I see why you think that the title may seem to advertise the content “at the expense of others,” but I guess one of the main drawbacks of the bite-sized notes I take here is that I don't really offer a holistic view of what I'm posting.

    Chris always prefaces his notes with something similar to the following:

    “Is this story compelling to everyone? Absolutely not. I get emails every week from people who seem to enjoy telling me how wrong I am. But that’s OK — I get far more emails from people who do get it. Remember, there is no “everyone” — you want to attract the right people, and part of that process involves gently steering the wrong ones away.”

    Some of his language is pretty black-and-white, which both causes conflict and is necessary for his purpose. I spend a lot of time worrying about offending people, and therefore never actually put a focus on what I'm doing. I have a need to be a little too “inclusive.” Much like choosing a genre or audience for book-writing (you have to be okay with the fact that if you write a sci-fi book, people who are staunchly against sci-fi may never read it), Chris's comic is aimed at those who “don't” want to be unremarkably average. The fact that it's in comic form lends itself easily to tiptoeing on the edge of satire, and you kind of feel compelled to take its message with a grain of salt.

    Anyway, in the end, I agree that many people, in fact, most, are content and happy to be “unremarkably average,” which, could just be with a less condescending tone, “normal.” I agree that we (being society, being countries, being organizations, being people) can be great without the ones who are content with the average lifestyle. I don't think there can be a “great” without a measuring stick of “average.”

    I also don't think that this “normal” population is the target audience for this particular author.

    In the end, I think the message is not: “If you don't do something extraordinary, you suck”

    I think the message is: “If you dream of doing something extraordinary, do it.”

  3. rose December 4, 2012 7:43 pm

    *also, implicit in my own message, “average” is entirely relative! so i think everyone needs to take a good hard look at their own goals, and what “average” even means to them. For example, I went to a public university. A lot of my parents' peers consider this unremarkably average. I can go into detail on why I don't consider this average at all.. but again, such a relative term!

  4. Kristan Hoffman December 4, 2012 8:09 pm

    I don't think your “bite-sized” note is to blame at all. I didn't have any feelings/opinions until I clicked through and read the comic (twice).

    And I tried to sit with my feelings and see if maybe they were a snap reaction. But no, I still think his comic — and the way each panel portrays average-ness as a dim, undesirable, and meaningless existence — puts down normality, even when you take into account his audience and/or his medium and/or the relativity of what “normal” means.

    On the other hand, I love what YOU said:

    “In the end, I think the message is not: “If you don't do something extraordinary, you suck”

    I think the message is: “If you dream of doing something extraordinary, do it.””

  5. Kristan Hoffman December 4, 2012 8:13 pm

    Oh, so, clarification: I realize now that the illustrator and the originator of those statements are two different people. THAT could be amplifying the problem I have with it. Like a game of Telephone, the original message is being slightly distorted as it travels from its source and becomes simultaneously garbled and amplified.

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