Kilian Jornet and the Parallel Realities

Kilian Jornet and the Parallel Realities

Rush Books, Culture, Running

3 min to read

Found the below insightful commentary from Kilian Jornet…

We live in a world of parallel realities that observe but choose not to understand each other. When we get up in the morning and browse the news or check Twitter, we get the false impression that we are everywhere. We see images of a terrorist attack in Baghdad, a protest in Murcia, or a migrant boat that’s just sunk off the coast of Greece . . . and since we are all parents, children, or immigrants, we identify with what’s going on. A few seconds later, we read a comment by a politician out of context, and we either applaud or get mad. Then a viral video grabs our attention, and we laugh our heads off at something dumb. And then . . . and then . . . Everything seems close. We experience everything virtually. It’s easy to get updated on everything, every day. Until the moment you find an article about something you know a lot about, and you feel a pit in your stomach as you read, because you’re suddenly amazed to realize what kind of drivel people write. And in the end, this makes you doubt the truth of any news from an area you’re unfamiliar with. Appearances end up prevailing over facts, and the issue is often reduced to finding an easy polemic to draw people into the media. Meanwhile, injustice continues, far from any debate, and those who suffer keep suffering in their world. You can wear your fingers out clicking on LIKE and sharing links: the two parallel realities will never converge.

For a few years now in our society, our materialistic focus on personal image has become as important as our capitalist, materialistic focus on well-being. Until recently, the cultivation of a personal image was limited to politicians and pop stars, but today, nobody is immune. It all began when they started trying to put us at the center of everything, with the typical entrepreneurial slogans, like “You are your own brand!” It continued with companies choosing potential employees based on their social-networking profiles. Or with tech multinationals deciding whether we were better or worse, authentic and unique or a waste of space, according to how many comments or likes we received. Or with our loss of privacy, when it became possible for anyone who cared to find out what you ate, what music you listened to, where you bought your socks, who you admired, and where you were thinking of going on your next vacation. We’ve become obsessed, and now we’re like putty, working away at trying to fit into a mold. We have ended up turning into—they have turned us into—a tiny piece of the commercial world.

It’s becoming harder and harder to see the line between what we call “I” and what we say is “mine.” We have come to believe that we “are” what we “have”: my body, my mental faculties, my clothes, my house, my husband or wife, my children and friends, and even my reputation, work, and bank account. We base our feelings on what we have, and lose sight of our interest in what we are. The rules of satisfaction or frustration depend on whether we can attach a possessive adjective to a noun. And this trend seems very difficult to change.

Sports have not been immune to the shift. In fact, they’ve been subjected to it faster and more intensely than other spheres. The sports we are sold today are a spectacle, and a spectacle needs an audience. And the audiences are no longer in the stadiums. Or, to put it another way: yes, they are—they’re in the one massive stadium the world has become.

Everyone has a preferred seat, in their home. An athlete is an athlete twenty-four hours a day and, on top of training, he has to live “authentically” and have a “take” on everything. And since he’s no longer just talking to four freaks who understand him—the audience is no longer a minority but global—everything he says must be straightforward and simplified, to quickly catch the attention of a public that consumes information at the speed of a machine-gun firing a round of bullets. I know I have five or six seconds to produce a spectacular image that will leave you, the spectator, breathless, and grab your attention because it’s interesting and not just entertaining. There’s no need for complicated explanations and “insignificant” details, since those can get a little too interesting. You have to go straight for an easy headline, for a number that’s easy to understand and compare, for competition between news items, athletes, people.

We do it to “reach” people, but then we realize that by trying to reach everyone else, there’s one detail we’ve neglected: we can no longer reach ourselves. And we have changed our perspective without fully realizing it, because we act, think, and write with the knowledge that we’re being watched and analyzed by an audience. As a result, we are changing what we do, and especially how we do it.

Excerpt from: Above the Clouds: How I Carved My Own Path to the Top of the World by Kilian Jornet.