It’s a few hours after watching the Fight Club for the second time in my life that I write these words. It's been more than decade since I watched it for the first time and even though I had liked it, I hadn't realised its significance; or that it gives us the answers to all our problems.
Isn’t it surprising that two of the most important films of our generation, The Matrix and Fight Club, both came out in 1999?
1999 is the last year of a thousand years. It’s also before 9/11 (2001). It’s the internet meme of partying and carefreeness. Everything was great in 1999. The West had just won, a decade before, the scariest game of ego-based destruction (aka Cold War). Communism was done for and the good guys had finally won.
It’s almost funny how Fight Club hasn’t aged a day. Even without AI, without social media, not even mobile phones were a thing in Fight Club—Tyler makes calls from public phone cabinets. Yet every thing Fight Club presents as a societal puzzle in 1999 is the same in today’s world.
Do we not know that buying things doesn’t make us feel good for more than 3 seconds? We do. We even talk about it. Yet we still do it. If only we could stop because we realise.
As I was watching Fight Club one thought kept coming back. During the last 24 years that this movie exists, we’ve done zero progress in solving the issues that it talks about. Even worse than that: we created social media in a way that has made everything worse. Tyler Durden’s advice was to stop trying to control everything and let go. First step is to give up, he said, while trying to convince himself first.
Why is there zero amount of real progress in these issues? Why do we keep having the same problems? Why do we still tolerate our lack of action? Do we not know the solutions? We do:
Stop thinking how awesome it will be if you buy X.
Stop thinking how awesome it will be if you achieve Y.
Stop thinking how awesome you will be when you become Z.
Stop thinking how awesome—
Yet we don’t train to stop thinking. On the contrary, we avoid thinking about A by distracting ourselves with B. Yet in the same way B found itself in our minds, A will find its spot right back in.
If only there was a philosophy and some practical steps to stop thinking. If only we could control our minds.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Even if there were, it wouldn’t change a thing. We would still find refuge in anything other than facing the present. Just like kids who find random things to do when it’s time to study.
So, this is what Fight Club says to us—but it’s irrelevant. We know how we could do it so we don’t have to do it now. Knowledge makes us impotent even though people out there claim knowledge is power. Why do they say that? I don't know. It doesn’t matter anyway.
I give up.