Ego-tripping my way through life …

Last week I saw Birdman, the fantastic(al) yet painfully realistic feature by Iñarritu, the director of Biutiful21 grams and Amores Perros. I’d never dare to review this masterpiece, but I’d like to refer to it as a starting point on the discussion on our Ego.

This year I organized the third and my last edition of a three day creative festival in Utrecht, one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands. Cultfest is situated along the central canal of the roman city and takes place in several private wharf cellars that are made accessible to the public for a weekend.

This years theme was Ego, a confrontational and sometimes controversial guidance to work with. All the participants (programmers, volunteers, locations, organizers) were asked to take a closer look at themselves, to research the role that ego played in their lives and to present their findings within their work, product, relationship etcetera.

As the artistic director I prospered: the program was divers, playful, deep and breezy at the same time. Within my role as general festival director I experimented with new methods, failed, played with roles, failed, got up, failed and still encounter my ever present Ego on a daily basis. Through ups and downs.

And I love it. The realization of being able to research my own being and behold & mold my personal growth is one of the most awesome features we have as human beings.

Now back to Birdman.

Popularity is the slutty cousin of prestige

Three years ago I opened a Twitter account: because i could, not because I should. To be honest I’ve only used it to promote my festival, once in a while to address in my opinion relevant news or to rise questions. I never gave it to much attention, until last week when all of a sudden I posted nine tweets on one night. NINE. It might not seem much, but coming to think of it nine is an awful lot when I only tweeted 120 over the past three years. So I tweeted almost 12% of my twitter existence on one night. Why you would ask? Was the subject that interesting? No, my ego got a hold of me and I didn’t even notice.

Watching Birdman I giggled. This actor who played the successful role of a superhero in several movies is now in search of a new purpose, a new version of himself and a new way of being seen. I studied human rights, organized festivals and am now making the transition to yet another field of work. Why because? Because I can.

In a way, Riggan, Sam, the rest of humanity and I were all the same while I watched the movie.

And it came to me: apparently my twitter trip was a touching cry for attention. I thought I was writing witty yet extremely accurate representations of the status quo, waited to be seen and acknowledged and got captivated in the act of sending. My voice got lost in translation. Lost in the online language I had deliberately and haughty ignored until then. And now, I got slapped in the face by my former disinterest. It said: fuck you with your stupid I’m so analog-attitude!

And you know what happened? My ego ‘error-ed’: I kept sending messages out, in diverse variations: five, six, seven, eight, nine tweets. And then I woke up: what happened? I asked myself. What am I doing?


I was feeding my insecurity by asking the unknown world for approval. I wanted to been seen,  accepted and confirmed in my decision to change direction. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Because that’s what Cultfest taught me this year: Ego means I. When my ego whines like a spoiled adult, it’s in need. Apparently I neglected it’s needs. Apparently I neglected my needs. The need to express, to be taking seriously, to learn and share my opinion and so on.

So from now on I try to address my whining with care and love. To embrace my right ‘to not know’.

And more importantly I try to show the same behavior with others. Because most of the time offline and online extreme omnipresence can be traced back to an unheard ego  And I kinda feel like hearing those ego’s.



It’s because you want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole world out there where people fight to be relevant every day. And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it.

– Sam in ‘Birdman’