The Danger of Vicarious Living

Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person: “vicarious pleasure”.


I don’t watch any TV but somehow I have become shamefully addicted to X factor.

I have been thinking about it and I think the real reason deep down is that I am jealous of the contestants.

Not that they are on TV etc but that they are taking a REAL risk on their musical dreams, dreams that run deep in them that they have held for years.

I am good at risk taking in other spaces but music is one I hold dear and thus scares me more to make myself vulnerable.

We all watch, read or listen to stuff to switch off which is pretty normal and probably restful and helping keep us balanced.

I guess the danger is if we live our dreams through others we are not actually writing or telling our story at all. 

I am challenging myself to go and write or practise after I watch X factor so I don’t just become a stuffed monkey!

PS. Misha B is obviously the winner 🙂







7 Replies to “The Danger of Vicarious Living”

  1. The part that strikes me about X-Factor is that everyone on the program says they really desperately want to be a pop star and that they want it more than anything in the world. Very few of them want it enough to put in the hard work doing gigs in pubs or recording stuff and building up a following the same way that many of the non manufactured bands do. Instant success rarely lasts.

  2. Hi Dave,

    At first I was ready with an arson of insults to launch at the X-Factor but your thoughts oddly make sense. I have always felt sorry for the fame chasers that do everything they can based on little talent or imagination in the hope that they can have the same shallow lifestyle that the celebrities they read about in OK magazine have.
    But there are a few that catch my attention, those that have the courage and audacity to put a genuinely talent under the scrutiny of industry professionals in the hope of making a career out of doing something they love.

    I have always shy’d away from really putting my musical ability at risk for fear of rejection or failure. But the more I sit and do nothing, the more vicarious I become.
    But then I am reminded of something one of my musical heroes said.
    “The more I try and sound/act/look/wish-I-was like this musician, or that musician, the more I sound like me. In my failure to be like my heroes, I become my own sound and people dig it!”

    I don’t know about vicarious living being dangerous, it depends on who you are as an individual. If you allow other people’s success or courage to overshadow you, then you are doomed. But if through a vicarious journey you find your own sound/courage/ideas etc then good on you.

    I am all for vicariousness if it eventually leads to inspiration and motive to do something great.

  3. Pj, thanks for your honest thoughts. I think if we can channel that vicariousness into action then happy days!

    When lives that were born to create, are dominated by spectating I often see a sense of dissatisfaction with life, I have felt it in my own life at times.

  4. Great blog, bro.

    In 2004, I wrote on my MySpace under the what Television do you like section: “I’d rather let TV be made about me than waste my life watching other people live theirs!” In that year, I was invited onto two national television programmes. Go figure! Oh, and just for the record, they weren’t singing compeitions. I’m not talented in that, like you Dave.

    I think you’ve got it spot on concerning ‘vicarious living’ by the way. And it’s a great reminder to us to keep believing – and put fear in it’s rightful place. To live OUR lives, not the lives of other people – whether mentors, parents, teachers or the like. I was just saying to friend yesterday, I’d rather live in reality and learn how I can improve in my skills base, than just live risk averse – and never really know what I was capable of, while wishing I was like this person or that person.

    I sometimes wonder if Marx was around today he’d say, television entertainment – and living like a brainless consumer – was the opium of ‘the people’ or ‘the reluctant musician or artist’. The message being, just get out there and build a life for yourself! Afterall, Mr Cowell et al, are the people raking it in on account of other people’s lack of bravery, aren’t they?

    On another note, in us being a successful pioneer – or artist – there will always be an allure, particularly as we get older – to become synthesized with the establishment – to secure what we’ve been enjoying – aside from ‘instant success’ – into something more manageable, more financially and relationally dependable or rewarding.

    That’s the other side of ‘the risk’ of aligning with commercial mentors – not to mix my metaphors too much. I.e. conformity to the establishment, trading off our originality for commercial acceptance, and settling to get what we never inherited by birth. Maybe that’s just rooted in our need for approval and security, as we negotiate the life the banks and the marketers tell us we need to lead. I want it all, I want it now, sang Queen, stating the cry for those desperate to use their time well, and be willing to sacrifice their hidenness for the benefits of exposure.

    I think what PJ said is good – a reminder that we still need support and elders to look up to as we pioneer as free men and women, so we don’t fail or make errors they did. But, yeah, on reflection, I think maybe living in the ‘middle zone’ is the best for us all here. Being free to dream and build that dream in time, credibly, with the occasional help we need from those seasoned enough to have made a similar journey, all those years ago.

    Hope you’re okay in Newcastle Dave, and know you are loved and believed in x

    P.s. I think you could get through to the X-Factor finals. But is that REALLY the way you want to do it? 😉

  5. Thanks Phil,

    RE X Factor, my point was not that I am considering going on the show! I don’t think anything would convince me to at the moment. The point was when I look at them telling their stories and taking risks I feel like I want to be creating and telling mine, hence getting back on the geeeeeetar and start writing again,

    Thanks for reading.

  6. You’re welcome.

    Yeah, I understand. I said that in a non-literal, tongue-in-cheek fashion. Just to spur you on! I’m glad you’re inspired to write.

    When I’m back in the South, let’s head to that open stage night at that Notting Hill arts club we chatted about.

    If you were invited to play, you’d be guaranteed applause from Al, Nat and I, and maybe hundreds more, as they discover you too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *