It is the social movement that seems unstoppable to the frustration of governments and corporations around the world. The internet and various forms of social media are playing a critical role in the viral takeoff of this trend-setting movement.
“We in the Mediocrity Movement celebrate being average” says Harry Lee on a flying visit to London from his hometown of Singapore. He adds, “Actually we like to think of ourselves as being just a little below average.”
Although there is no central organisation for the movement, I recently met with two activists from different sides of the world that are taking the lead in explaining this counter-cultural movement. Janet Smith from Chicago and Harry Lee took time from their schedules to explain the basics to me when they were in London recently running workshops for new members.
The first thing I discovered is that people in the Mediocrity Movement call themselves “Mediokers”, seemingly unconcerned about the poor grammar and spelling that the designation entails.
Janet explains, “The strength of us Mediokers is that we are quite simply the majority of the population. The top 25% are excluded as being too hip, intelligent, beautiful and rich. The bottom 20% don’t seem to want to tag along for their own reasons.
“So by definition we are the middle 55% of the population, with a mean position just below average at 47.5%. These statistics make for a pretty good definition of the word mediocre” she concluded.
Harry then breaks into a sort of rap song pointing his fingers in the air: “We … Are … Medi-oc-ri-ty”. This appears to be an attempted rendition of the Sister Sledge classic “We Are Family” but with poor tone and worse scanning. Harry smiles at me, pleased with his performance and unaware of my grimace.
“Our movement is both a celebration of being Mediocre but also importantly the joyous freedom from not aspiring to be exceptional”, says Janet taking up the argument. “In our circles it is frowned upon at being too good at anything. Don’t have too many friends on Facebook, don’t try too hard in dressing up for the evening, buy a normal car, play down your salary. Our expectations in life are reasonable and easily met.” Janet says.
“In any case, what’s cool about taking a foreign holiday? You are more likely to find us down the local pub having a drink with our friends in the local community. We laugh and sing a lot”, Harry adds.
In a Skype interview later, Jason Strong, Marketing Director at Big Corp, voices his concerns. “Our business model is built on the premise that we can sell exceptional lifestyle outcomes to normal people. Of course they can’t achieve these aspirations, so they come back and spend more money with us in an endless cycle that frankly generates huge profits for us.
“The Mediocrity Movement undermines this whole value proposition. We are racking our brains trying to find ways to make Mediokers feel insecure, but they all seem so content.” Mr Strong said with a shrug.
Governments are finding this trend worrying as well and many lawmakers are openly calling this the end of democracy.
Sir Geoffrey Leader, the government Whip opines, “For any government, democratic or even communist, legitimacy rests on providing people with an ever increasing standard of living. ‘Vote for us and we will reduce taxes and increase your pay packets’ is the basic slogan of any government. For this promise, people seem prepared to endure poor infrastructure, bad public facilities and awful pollution.”
Sir Geoffrey continues, “This deal between government and voter gets undermined if the Mediocrity Movement takes off. What more can we offer the voters if people are happy with what they earn and comfortable with their lot in life? Where do we go from here?” he asks with a panicked look on his face.