I’m vain in the membrane


I’m getting fewer and fewer views on this blog. It shouldn’t bother me, but it does.

I created it to capture my thinking, to understand myself better, to improve my writing. I think I’m making some headway on these goals.

I did not set it up to build a readership or a following. Frankly, if I think about it, I’m embarrassed that people might even be reading it. But for some reason, I check the readership stats. I check them every day. Sometimes many times a day. Every day fewer people read what I write. I care, and I know I shouldn’t.

My vanity.

Do people not care about what I’m writing about? But wait, I don’t care if they don’t care, I’m doing this for me.

But surely people are interested? I’m writing about interesting stuff! Not everyone cares about my ridiculous ramblings. In fact, who would ever want to read my internal monologue?

Look at the title – it’s cool and makes me sound all intellectual! Yes, but I’m not. I’m a bit of a phoney. I’ve tried reading Kant and given up. I made it 50% of the way through Piketty and got bored. I’m an intellectual weakling, really. Even my wife’s philosophy dissertation was a struggle.

My vanity. My need for validation. It permeates my life, not just this blog (by now you’ve noted the Kant and Piketty name drop). I work as much to hear “great job!” as I do to have an impact. I love cooking, but I only push the boat out and make an extra effort when people are coming over, especially people I don’t know well. I spend money on stuff that usually means nothing to me other than the fact I want to show you that I have this nice stuff that makes a statement about how cool I am.

The first step on any journey of self-improvement surely needs to be the shedding of vanity.

The problem, the flipside, of course, is that we are judged or, at least, we feel judged. I am judged if I wear what I want or what I’m comfortable in when I’m in a meeting with serious people. I feel judged when you come over and all I can give you is an oven-baked ready meal. We make snap decisions with few data points. Cambridge First, eh? Must be a great person to join our reputable firm! Criminal conviction? Get out of my sight. Our current system, our limits on time, the weaknesses in our brain all mean that we struggle to see past the superficial, the manicured presentation, the haircut and the shoes.

My vanity gets in the way of my theoretical self-improvement, my vanity allows me practical progress in this messy, imperfect world.

In reality, my vanity is not the problem here. The problem is that I’m too weak to overcome it – I care far too much about what you think of me. The problem is that I can’t see past your shiny surface and get a sense of the person below – your real story, not the one you want to tell me by your tweed jacket and beard.

My vanity. Please read this blog.

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