Thinking About Kanye West's Recent Tweets (Part 1 Of 2)
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! The improved weather means that summer is finally here.
Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to take advantage of the nice weather. I've been in the lab for the majority of this weekend, working hard to finish as much as I can before I leave for California.
Between lab work and Forbes writing, I haven't had much time for myself. Hopefully that will change once I'm out on the West Coast working my internship.
Before anyone mentions this, yes, I know this post is late since it's Monday. Oh well, you're still getting a weekly blog post. I was planning to write up a post on where I'm taking my professional (Forbes) writing in the future, but I'm waiting till I publish my last post for the academic year later today.
Until that comes out, I'm going to be talking by some recent Kanye West tweets that stood out to me. This is going to be a two-part series. I'm focused on the two below for this article, and I'll address the some more in a follow-up post later this week.
Here they are:
Starting with the bottom tweet, I understand Kanye to be saying that most people work in the world (or reality) as it is, while a smaller few can redefine and move it on a collective scale. I think there's a lot of meaning to this first tweet. Societies tend to develop very narrow definitions of success that its members should all strive for. These limited notions of success tend to exclude other valid and notable ways to live, which discourages people from taking their own path.
American society is guilty of promoting narrow views of success. The standard mantra is generally to do well in elementary, middle, and high school, go to college, get a stellar paying job after college, marry, have kids, work a traditional thirty to forty year career, then live out your golden days in retirement.
Now, I'm not saying this is a wrong way to live, but it's definitely not for everyone, including me. To be fair, a conventional life in a modern-day society like America is a safe, rational, and perfectly fine way of living.
However, bring this back to Kanye's quote, society's "consciousness" tends to heavily view this as being the only kind of success one should strive for, versus exploring your own interests and living life on your own terms. This discourages people from pursuing their passions, and ultimately working to shift their own "consciousness" as to what's possible in their lives.
A secondary effect of this is that if you see other people all around you taking the conventional path in life, there is little opportunity to engage with others who have deliberately not taken that standard path. Without an alternative to question the dominant societal narrative, you're less likely to shift your own "consciousness". Thus, you're led to just tailoring your efforts within society's working definition of success.
There's a lot of evidence for this too. The proof lies in modern advertising. You're shown ads every time you consume media. Brands are trying (and successfully) convincing you to buy status markers from where you shop for food or clothes to where you even go to college (if you can afford it at all). It's not easy to insulate yourself from the constant bombardment of consumer messaging.
I would probably say it's impossible to do so in our modern society. Your "consciousness" is being contained within society's definition of what it determines to success via advertising. These ads make emotional appeals to your self-worth to get you purchasing their products or services, which shows their influence on confining your consciousness to what society thinks has value.
As Kanye implied in his first tweet, the majority of people are confined to this "existing consciousness". But there are a few people who can remove themselves from that echo chamber and shift the perspective on their own.
Those who practice the arts are the ones most likely to challenge what beliefs and views we take for granted. Painters, musicians, entertainers, writers, etc. The work that these creatives produce is aimed at investigating the our current reality, and getting us to question what is being delivered to us in everyday life. Questioning the assumptions that underlie our societal interactions and what we come to value is incredibly important for yourself. Just accepting modern life at face-value denies you the opportunity for introspection. This introspection is key to understanding yourself relative to others in society, and what you like and dislike about your current lifestyle.
Understanding what internally motivates or discourages you in a huge step in shifting your "consciousness". I feel that those in the arts have an ingrained habit of introspection because their work is subjective, and to some degree, even arbitrary. There are no right and wrong answers, unlike what society would like you to believe in it's form of success. Being able to grapple with this ambiguity in life opens the door to "shifting" your "consciousness".
Bringing this current understanding into West's second tweet, my takeaway from his next quip is that those are stuck within this "existing consciousness" are envious of those who are not limited to conventional definitions of success. The envious ones work hard to reinforce what we collectively promote and value in the status quo as to avoid dealing with their inner feelings of inadequacy. This insecurity stems from observing others who don't value the same things as they do yet still succeed in life.
There's a lot of truth to West's second statement. So much of what we see in day-to-day media praises the absolute wealth over having time to spending with family and friends. Society endlessly praises individuals who go at it alone, working long, tedious hours in their careers to get ahead. Getting ahead allows them to buy more stuff. Buying more stuff (specificially, the right kinds of stuff that we all deem valuable) reinforces society's "existing consciousness" to themselves and others viewing them. Instead of appreciating others who manage to find meaning in different ways, society works harder to implicitly and explicitly influence them not to pursue their alternative lifestyles and choices.
I think it's sad. There's something to be gained when an individual walks a different path in life compared to everyone else. For me, I like to see people bucking the trend and setting out to do their own thing. It gives me courage to take a hard look at my life, and make the difficult choices to lead myself where I want to be in the future now, instead of harboring regret when I'm older and settled into a conventional lifestyle.
I'm really glad Kanye has returned to Twitter. I'm excited for his album coming out June 1st, and I hope to have another post (Part 2) of my thoughts on some other of his tweets later this week before the album drops.
What do you think? Has West dropped wisdom on us? Or is this just a stream-of-consciousness on digital display?