In this seventh letter, Seneca asked Lucilius to avoid the crowd. When he said the crowd he meant the public crowd, a group of people whose ideals and principles may be different from ours because as per Seneca they could easily and unconsciously corrupt our character and hinder our goals for self-improvement and reaching our potentials. “To consort with the crowd is harmful; there is no person who does not make some vice attractive to us, or stamp it upon us, or taint us unconsciously therewith. Certainly, the greater the mob with which we mingle, the greater the danger.” He mentioned about watching gladiator fights and the effects of the gruesome games on his peace of mind where the crowd craves on nothing but blood. He details on the letter how the crowd behaves as they watch the games and said “Nothing is so damaging to good character as the habit of lounging at the games; for then it is that vice steals subtly upon one through the avenue of pleasure.”
We no longer have gladiator fights these days but certainly, we are more exposed to ‘strangers’ than they were 2000 years ago in ancient Rome. In this age of social media, we are constantly bombarded with information that does not serve our interest in self-improvement. This is the reason why I write stoicism journals on this website on a regular basis to keep myself on track with my character improvement. There is not a single time when I scroll my social media feeds somethings going to bother me and disturb my peace of mind.
Regardless, Seneca asked Lucilius to empathize with those people who may corrupt our character. “You should not copy the bad simply because they are many, nor should you hate the many because they are unlike you. Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. “The Stoics have always reminded us to be indifferent with the external and our character is our control at the end of the day.
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