In the car with my 10 yr old daughter the other day, she asked me what Ego meant, one of her vocabulary words for the week.
I laughed. “Good question, I replied. What do you think it is?”
“I wouldn’t ask if I knew, mom.”
“Well, use it in a sentence, in context. You’ve heard the word enough to have an inkling what it means. And an inkling is as close as you’re going to get to defining an abstract like Ego.”
Her brows narrowed and I could see her pondering in the rear view mirror.
“My ego got hurt when Ms Brown told me I was singing flat this morning.” She paused. “And she really said that, mom.”
“Sorry. We’ll get back to that. OK? So Ego is feelings then?”
“Well, sorta, I guess. But not exactly. It’s more like how we see ourselves. To me, I’m a good singer. You can hurt my feelings by being mean to me. But you hurt my ego when you tell me I’m not how I think I am.”
“Do you think you were flat this morning in glee?”
“Well, yeah. When I listened I wasn’t hitting the notes sometimes. I guess I’m not such a good singer.”
“Ah, but you could be, if you practiced singing. And not the perpetual humming you do, but really practiced, daily—sing along with your favorites, or sing the notes when you practice piano.” I glimpsed her rolling her eyes at my suggestions in the rear view mirror. “Being a good singer doesn’t happen inside your head. What is the only way to really get good at anything?” (One of my many canonical refrains.)
“Practice, mom.” She sighed.
I sighed. “My beautiful daughter, I think your explanation for Ego is excellent—it’s how we see ourselves. Ego is an idea, even an ideal—who we want to be, but generally are not. We are what we do, my dear” (another of my refrains). “If you want to be a good singer, you’re going to have to practice becoming one.”
“So you don’t think I’m a good singer,” she asked woefully.
“Were still talking about defining Ego here, right?”
“Yeah. And my ego says I’m a good singer now, mom. So is ego always fake, just pretend inside our heads?”
“You tell me. Do you think our ego ever gives us an accurate depiction—paints a real picture of how we operate, how we act, what we do in the real world?”
“Probably not.” She sighed again, deflated. “Just cuz you think you’re good, or talented, or special doesn’t mean you actually are to anyone besides yourself, except if you’re famous. When you’re famous, it’s not just ego, you know you’re good.”
“Really? So, there’s a famous chef, recognized for his delicious creations. As you noted, it’s not just his ego talking that’s telling him he’s a good chef. He has 1.7 million dedicated followers on Instagram. He decides to create a new dish, and serves it to five friends. And all five hate the meal. The combination of flavors tastes just terrible. So, is the guy delusional that he’s a good chef—it’s just his ego talking—or is he really good?
My daughter considered my little tale carefully before answering. “Well, if he thought of himself as a great chef with everything he made, then his delusion was that he could be good all the time, that everything he created would be a masterpiece.”
“So then, is ego ever an accurate depiction of self?”
“I guess not. Just like there is no such thing as smart, mom.” She quoted another of my canonical refrains. Her bright smile in the rear view mirror lit up my world.
My DH and I NEVER tell our kids they’re smart. In fact, when other people do, we smile politely, turn away and snicker. Our kids are consistently at the top of their classes because they work at it. A lot. There is no such thing as smart, we preach. Smart is an abstract, merely an idea, a concept, like democracy, or potential, or ego. Smart is as smart does.
It is not our potential, or what we believe, or believe in that defines us. Our ego guarantees that none of us are who we imagine ourselves to be—good or bad. Regardless of what your ego tells you, you will never be more then the choices you make and the actions those choices lead you take.
IMAGINE working your ass off all through high school, studying instead of partying, volunteering with school and community groups so you can into a good college. You send out your applications, to Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, as you have the 4.8 GPA, and all the right clubs on your resume. Your mom kisses each envelope before mailing, “for luck,” then hugs you, with her silent prayer that you’ll be accepted everywhere, that the world will see her beautiful daughter the way she does.
Pins and needles until the letters start coming in, or maybe they won’t, and no college will want you, keeps playing in your head until February rolls around and letters DO come. Cal Berkeley wants you! UC Davis wants you! Stanford wait-listed you. And Harvard ACCEPTED YOU!! You’re dancing in the kitchen with your mom, dad, and little brother, laughing, hugging, celebrating your achievement of hard work and tenacity. For the moment, you let yourself bask in the glow of your families pride.
August comes round, and you are settling into your dorm room at Harvard. Your roommate is nice enough, though she’s hardly there. Unlike you, she’s very social. She got into Harvard on her daddy’s dime. He went there. She got a free pass into the school, as did ex-president George Bush Jr. If nothing else, Harvard is incestuous. Many of Harvard students are related to past students, with money.
You love your classes. Your professors. You are doing well in the college environment, even if you haven’t made any real friends, already a few months into your Harvard experience. You assure your mom you are fine, though you don’t tell her you’re feeling more than a bit lonely. The popular girls, like her roommate, came in with money, came from money. They dress trendy, buy expensive, look sharp, act confident. Make it in Harvard, or not, they have no worries after school. The rich rarely have to worry like the rest of us.
You come back to your empty dorm room one afternoon, turn on your computer, and are about to get started on the paper you have to write for Expository, but the image on the screen stops you dead. Your face stares back at you, next to some other young woman. Under her picture it says, “HOT!” Under YOUR PICTURE it says in bold lettering “NOT!”
This is the beginning of Facemash, which eventually became Facebook. This is MARK ZUCKERBERG’S idea of fun—making women feel like shit at his expense. IMAGINE what that child must have felt when she saw NOT under her Harvard profile picture. IMAGINE if it was YOUR CHILD. OR YOU.
And here’s what ZUCKERBERG said the first night he released Facemash: “I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of some farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.”
This is MARK ZUCKERBERG than, and THIS IS MARK ZUCKERBERG NOW! He is still the same ugly, petty, small man/child, pulling the same ugly crap, indifferent to anyone but himself, ignoring the pain he is causing across the globe. Zuckerberg was already a second year student at Harvard. He was not a child. If ZUCKERBERG was a decent man, a man of goodness, not cruelty, he never would have COPIED HOT OR NOT, an app that was already out there. Zucky just ripped it off! To debase Harvard WOMEN. Shame on you ZUCKY, and your MAMA and PAPA, for not teaching you how to treat others with kindness!
ZUCKERBERG is still indifferent to anyone but his own needs, even TODAY. His Facebook recommendation engine helped get TRUMPY ELECTED! How? His recommendation engine only shows you what ZUCKY WANTS YOU TO SEE. You do NOT see all your connection’s posts. ZUCKY WON’T LET YOU. He shows you only posts that REFLECT YOU. We are all merely seeing posts that reflect our own opinions.
ZUCKY only sees his own reflection too. It’s what allowed him to debase WOMEN at Harvard. It is allowing him to keep his screwed up recommendation engine on and running, as you are more likely to BUY from people reflecting your position. Russians, Republicans spreading lies, ZUCKY doesn’t care. He cares about getting and keeping advertisers. His new “fake news” AI department is a joke. I know someone working there, and they tell me he really isn’t trying to stop it at all. It doesn’t serve him to do so. He wants advertisers, and you don’t get them limiting ad sales.
He got lucky debasing WOMEN from an app he RIPPED OFF. Now he’s god, to so many. Sadly, they are so blinded by his “success” and they can not see the ugly little man/child he was @Harvard, and still is. Humans get our moral fiber between 0 – 8, maybe 10 years old. He clearly didn’t get much moral guidance. And amoral people RARELY CHANGE. They need a brick to the head, to ‘hit bottom,’ and ZUCKY ain’t fallin any time soon. Now, he’s guiding the world to disaster, to make money from advertisers, to keep FB going. (And this is what Millennial, and MBAs deem “success.”)
My wish for you, MARK ZUCKERBERG, is to THINK with kindness, ACT with empathy, instead of what you were obviously raised to be– totally and completely self-interested. Your power was wielded by chance– mean, thoughtless, sexist, dumb luck, literally. Imagine how you and your wife would feel if YOUR DAUGHTER was voted NOT HOT, deemed UGLY her first year at Harvard, as no doubt she’ll go there with the money you have made on the trillions of wasted hours all of us have spent on your platform.