“If you’re not willing to downgrade for a year to focus on the lifestyle you want forever then you care too much of what other people think.” - Jim Carrey
The word involution (内卷) has swept over Chinese social media in recent years. It describes the experience of being locked in futile competition, ranging from college education (e.g. 985 trash) to tech industry (e.g. 996 ICU). People desperately want to leave, amid online meme runxue - “the art of running” - took off.
While the phenomenon is particularly tied to China, the issue of meaningless competition isn’t.
Do you know the number of h1b applicants in 2024? About 800,000.
What about 10 years ago? About 80,000.
A 10-fold increase.
If there’s any takeaway other than getting a US working visa today is much like winning a lottery ticket, that’s the US immigration market is getting too competitive for ordinary foreigners like me. In other words, it’s saturated.
Pursuing the same path - climbing the corporate ladder in the same tech or finance firm, buying house in the same school district, or even chasing the same hobby - might look wise, but in reality, they fuel rat race.
If you don’t have money problem, and you understand the probability of a Chinese student success at getting into Tsinghua University - merely 1 in 10,000 - you’d easily see the rationale in immigrating to the US to apply to Ivy League schools, assuming a degree from a prestigious institution is what you want.
Why is competition so hard? Because competition is essentially imitation, and imitation is to become anyone else other than yourself.
You may argue that capitalism is about competition. Well, that’s a single-sided view, but history tells another story -
Progress is a history of better monopoly businesses replacing incumbents. And monopoly achieved by innovation, a progress from 0 to 1 that makes future radically different from today. - Zero to One, Peter Thiel
Embrace authenticity to escape the rat race.