Most of us have had this experience: browsing through countless options on Netflix, unable to commit to watching any given movie--and losing so much time skimming reviews and considering trailers that it's too late to watch anything at all. In a book borne of an idea first articulated in a viral commencement address, Pete Davis argues that this is the defining characteristic of the moment: keeping our options open. We are stuck in "Infinite Browsing Mode"--swiping through endless dating profiles without committing to a single partner, jumping from place to place searching for the next big thing, and refusing to make any decision that might close us off from an even better choice we imagine is just around the corner. This culture of restlessness and indecision, Davis argues, is causing tension in the lives of young people today: We want to keep our options open, and yet we yearn for the purpose, community, and depth that can only come from making deep commitments.
In Dedicated, Davis examines this quagmire, as well as the counterculture of committers who have made it to the other side.
Dedicated is Davis’s attempt [...] to show that commitment, so often associated with conservatism and traditionalism, can be a radical act ... What follows is a combination of cultural jeremiad, self-help guide and call to action ... Part of his argument is that the grinding, painstaking work that commitment entails is necessary to effect any lasting transformation ... Dedicated is occasionally moving, but it isn’t unsettling. There’s something of the earnest law student about it; the writing feels assiduous and conscientious, as Davis takes care to persuade us that between the zealots of the past and the zealots of the future, there really is a third way ... Given the book’s emphasis on not just confronting difficulty but delving into it, the gardening bit feels a little too comfortable and familiar. Rhetorically, though, it makes sense: The metaphor of a plant is easier to accept than the chaos of another. Davis’s point is that we have to start somewhere. He has planted a seed with this book. Now watch it grow.
In a world of infinite options, Davis makes a plea for commitment. He acknowledges that we fear that we’ll regret our choices or miss out on opportunities. He also recognizes that there’s value in sampling different paths, especially for young adults. But ultimately, constantly jumping between options becomes tiring rather than fulfilling ... Well-versed in the current zeitgeist, Davis is insightful without being preachy, and his wise guide to commitment should be on everyone’s reading list.
Drawing on abundant examples of 'long-haul heroes' from friends, family, public figures (Martin Luther King Jr., Ken Burns, sports champions, and political activists, among many others), and myriad interviewees, Davis makes a persuasive case for dedication ... An earnest invitation to reassess personal priorities.