Speakeasy was founded in 2021 by a corporate stooge, an investment banker, a web designer, and a science-wiz grad student. To various extents, each one of us was seeking a medium to explore personal empowerment through self-reflection. We worked in fields of expedience – where our overriding life decisions were dictated by financial well-being, social standing, and familial acceptance.
Let’s call it: The Easy Way. Life was set on autopilot. The landmarks of marriage, mortgage, and morgue remained pre-arranged and unquestioned.
As you’ll see from our writing, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, stability in providing for one’s self and family is perfectly respectable. However, over the years we became less enamoured with the direction our lives were taking. The shine had begun to wear off the consumerist apple. Those salaries were less and less capable of justifying our dependence and more and more underscored our blind adoption of the values of our time.
Reliance on materialistic possessions became unhealthy — even addictive. The financial treadmill of buying just one more thing before we found happiness remained elusive. The Visa bills kept ballooning.
Social media became a toxic battleground of political intolerance and social judgment. Airbrushed lives were valorized. Self-adulation, narcissism, and braggadocio – the currency for today’s generation – overtook concepts such as fairness, justice, and charity.
We suffered a collective tragedy of the commons. Our inflated sense of self crowded out precious room for disagreement and understanding.
As a result, we were left unsatisfied with the menu options for the average twentysomething today. Educated, yes. Ambitious, yes. But spiritually and ethically, hollowed; immature; unrooted.
We’re not another website bent on eviscerating the current generation. We’re not joining the bandwagon griping about ‘kids these days’. In fact, rather uncontroversially, we’re happy to say that Millennials and iGeners are the most tolerant generation in history. That is a net positive. Moreover, the arc of acceptance and tolerance is trending in the right direction.
Nevertheless, we’ve lost sight of important things in our lives. More so than ever before, we judge ourselves and others by the brands we can afford. We marry and socialize within strict harmony of our socioeconomic status. The Meritocracy Trap, as Yale Professor Daniel Markovits calls it, has made us simultaneously wildly wealthy and unimaginably unhappy.
Something is deeply broken within our modern feedback loop.
Speakeasy is an online platform to crowdsource new perspectives. Whether the stories are real or fiction, comedic or poetic, they all share a common strand of speaking to the problems of being a decent person today.
Unfortunately, for many of us, conversations about personal growth and emotional maturity have largely vanished from public discourse. Instead, today, many of us are more lost and aimless than ever before. We seek moral instruction from Instagram influencers and Hollywood stars because society has allocated little room for earnest discussion about ethics, morals, and practical philosophy.
David Foster Wallace once spoke about a pair of young fish swimming in a stream one day. A bigger fish passes by. “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” he asks. The two continue on their way, ignoring the comment until finally one of them looks over at the other and asks, “What the hell is water?”
So, can you tell me now? What the hell is water?