A few people who I have run into lately have asked the standard question: “What have you been up to?”, a troublesome question of cultural dimension.
My answer lately has been, “Nothing of consequence.”, and the reactions to that have been interesting to note.
One of the more mature human beings I know, Mark Lyndersay, took it in stride, perhaps because I have been uncharacteristically open with him a few times.
Others, though, seem boggled by my response. The modern human condition, most certainly as fatal as it ever was, comes with a need to demonstrate some level of progress to others. It is expected that the progress will be exaggerated to some degree – some overdo that – but there is this need to report some level of moving forward in the context of society.
Buying a house. Buying a car. Getting a better job, or promotion, a new significant other, the removal of an old significant other… all the way down to minutiae, like buying new clothing or something that somehow is supposed to improve status.
And this, in turn, is used by others who are connected to you to show others the value of their status being connected to you, and so on. This is how those networks are built.
So to tell people you are doing nothing of consequence, whether true or not, is amusing, and I think productive.
It’s a reality check. When I think of what I have worthy to report, I think of what will be remembered not even 100 years from now, but 20, and in this day of age it boils down to…
Nothing of consequence.