On Just Being a Person

Most of my favorite comedy overlaps with philosophy. Good comedy makes you think and laugh because it makes you interact with reality in a way that steps outside your normal perspective. That special brand of comedy that can make you laugh and feel uncomfortable with how close it gets to incredibly core truths about yourself and the world -- that's the good stuff.

Louis CK always seems to have something profound to say when he visits Conan. First, the idea that cell phones are retarding the emotional development of children:

"I think these things are toxic, especially for kids...they don't look at people when they talk to them and they don't build empathy. You know, kids are mean, and it's 'cause they're trying it out. They look at a kid and they go, 'you're fat,' and then they see the kid's face scrunch up and they go, 'oh, that doesn't feel good to make a person do that.' But they got to start with doing the mean thing. But when they write 'you're fat,' then they just go, 'mmm, that was fun, I like that.'"

And then he brings it around to the adult side of things. The idea that we're all constantly distracting ourselves because we can't stand to be alone:

"You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That's what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That's being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty—forever empty. That knowledge that it's all for nothing and that you're alone. It's down there."

Maybe that's a bit cynical, but the overall point is a good one. How often do we reach into our pockets and grab our phones in order to break the awkward tension of not doing something.

We could all stand to have a little bit more of just sitting around -- just being people. When every little free space in our lives is filled with a new bit of information flowing from our phone where is the room for anything incredible to happen? The stroke of insight? The next big idea? Even just a second to let our brains slow down and absorb the fact that we live in a complex, beauitful, and ever changing world?