We live in a dishonest society

I’ve reviewed and referenced Mark Manson’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, before on this blog and today I want to tackle another topic inspired by the contents of said book. It’s a discussion about honesty and how I have to agree with Manson that here in the western world, we live in a dishonest society. I feel that this is important to recognise and be aware of on a conscious level because while I hear people constantly acknowledging deceit and distrust, these same people are still consistently shocked when they are on the receiving end of it or hear some shocking news about a scandal involving lies.

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On a brief side note, I’m one of those people that doesn’t believe the blurb about living in a “free country” or “free society”. We do but we don’t. It’s duality. We are free in that we aren’t ruled by violence, oppression or religion and we must never forget our freedom to do a great many things that we take for granted, things that people living in harsher environments beneath hardline governments could only dream of. At the same time, we are also sublety controlled through advertising, poisonous propaganda, social expectations and the media. In this respect, we are not as free as others with the biggest tragedy being that we simply cannot see it staring us in the face.

In the book, Manson reflects on time spent in Russia and how the bluntness off the Russian people initially shocked him and came across as rude. In time however, he came to realise that what he was witnessing was frankness and unadulterated expression.

“Honesty in the truest sense of the word. Communication with no conditions, no strings attached, no ulterior motive, no sales job, no desperate attempt to be liked”

“In this case, Russia had me reexamining the bullshitty fake-nice communication that is so common in Anglo culture, and asking myself if this wasn’t somehow making us more insecure around each other and worse at intimacy”

We can all relate to this. Grinning and bearing a shitty situation. Pretending to like co-workers when in fact you cannot stand them or the shit they come out with. Lying to your partner and saying she looks great or that her jeans don’t make her arse look fat. We’re constantly lying to each other and maintaining false frontages and these are only small, everyday examples that we aren’t even aware that we are partaking in. This shit goes all the way to the top and filters down into all levels of society like poison.

In a sense, it is understandable. After all, you can read this post (or any other far superior takes on the subject) but changing your attitude overnight is another thing altogether. Society won’t change with you. The reactions of others won’t be what you need/want to hear. For a full-on shift towards pure honesty to occur, society as a whole needs knocking over and re-building and that isn’t going to happen so the only other way forward is to commit to honesty and be willing to take the hits as everybody and everything resists you, despite an existence of honesty and openness being what everybody vocally cries out for. It’s fucked up isn’t it.

After all, standing up in the office and telling your co-workers that they are talking bullshit or telling them what you really think of them might end your career or – at the least – make your working environment too uncomfortable to continue with. Deciding to give the finger to the ‘grin and bear it’ approach could land you in similar trouble. And telling your girlfriend that her outfit looks terrible or that her backside does look fat in those jeans might put you in the doghouse or make you a newly single man. All of this despite society begging for honesty and the truth.

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The positive in this is that there are people who will appreciate honesty, even if they don’t say so. It’s a start at least. Trouble is, they are an elusive bunch. Some people do appreciate that being called out on their bullshit helps them to remain humble and continue to improve themselves or learn from criticism rather than be offended by it and fly into a rage. There are women who will listen to your unfiltered opinion (pun totally intended) on their outfit and tell you to “get fucked” but secretly appreciate your honesty. After all, what is the point in asking how you look if you are only after one answer? Men despair over these situations all the time: tell her she looks great and she says you’re lying or telling her what she wants to hear. Tell her she looks terrible and she gets pissed off. There’s no winning! At least if you have been honest then you have been true.

If she gets upset about your critique then it’s not her fault but the way that society has conditioned us over generations. She’s not upset at your criticism, more likely upset as a result of society’s pressures to be beautiful all of the time and to be extraordinary. If you really care then yes, some dishonesty and tact may sometimes be necessary – if you know that telling a brutal truth will flare up an existing condition such as anxiety or an eating disorder for example. On the flipside, your significant other may decide that she’s wearing what she wants to wear and that you’ll just have to deal with it. That’s something else to be admired and promoted by the way. That’s a woman not necessarily agonising over every detail or being totally controlled by the fashion industry or the expectation of others.

But I’m going off track here. Back to quoting the book:

“But in the “free” West, my Russian teacher continued, there existed an abundance of economic opportunity – so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually BE that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression. Knowing a lot of people superficially was more beneficial than knowing a few people closely”

“This is why it became the norm in Western cultures to smile and say polite things even if you don’t feel like it, to tell little white lies and agree with someone whom you don’t actually agree with. This is why people learn to pretend to be friends with people they don’t actually like, to buy things they don’t actually want. The economic system promotes such deception”

“The downside of this is that you never know, in the West, if you can completely trust the person you’re talking to. Sometimes this is the case even amongst good friends or family members. There is such pressure in the West to be likable that people often reconfigure their entire personality depending on the person they are dealing with”

All of this genuinely hit me quite hard. On the surface, it’s basic knowledge that we are all aware of. We all know that this is going and we are all guilty of it. So why do we allow it to continue? For the reasons I already mentioned mostly, namely reprocussions from a society that has been conditioned to be false and ignore the beauty of raw honesty. Another reason is that people seem to get upset and offended ridiculously easy these days and so it is sometimes viewed as “safer” to either say nothing or to simply agree rather than poking the hornet’s nest with a stick. Also, resolving to be honest is a commitment: a commitment to a new life where you are likely to be ostracised or branded an outcast, a “bad” person even.

Look at how anybody daring to raise their head above the parapet and challenge popular opinion with some honest views is roasted on social media and branded a racist, sexist, homophobic, mysogynist or outdated personality. The world won’t appreciate your honesty BUT it will rip public figures to shreds, starved dog-style, if said figures have been caught lying or being dishonest. This here is a prime example of the dishonesty and blatant hypocrisy in our society. It’s right there on the surface but we can’t see it.

On the other hand, if you can find like-minded people to surround yourself with or a partner who appreciates your honesty (and is equally as honest with you) then you can have a much more fulfilling life. It isn’t easy but you have to ask yourself if you want to continue to be a part of the machine. Does the prospect of living in a superficial, hollow society drowning in falseness for many more years sound like an appealing future for you?

At the very least, it’s food for thought.

You know nothing (and that’s okay)

Fewer people irritate quite as much as those who walk around reciting quotes from Game of Thrones, believing that they are humorous for it and not the copy/paste boxset-obsessed sheep that they actually are. There’s only so many solemn “winter is coming” warnings that you can tolerate whenever the outside temperature drops a few degrees for example. And don’t get me started on those who mimic The Hound and contribute to the oversuse of the last bastion of hard-hitting, impactful naughty words – cunt.

There is however, one quoted-to-death line that is perfectly applicable to our actual lives even if the vast majority of GOT followers probably dont realise it. That line – as you’ve no-doubt already guessed by the topic title – is Ygritte’s observation of “you know nothing, Jon Snow”

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[image: thesaint-online]
On a surface level, this was Ygritte criticising Jon for making assumptions of the wildlings based solely on what he knew or had been taught by those living in the safety of – or beyond – The Wall. But it’s here that we can delve deeper and discover that a quote from a TV show does in fact reflect us and our society. You may not have the luxury of seeing as many perfectly-formed breasts as some of the characters in ‘Thrones and you certainly can’t expect to soar the skies on the back of a dragon but you can rest assured that you really don’t know anything.

It happens all the time on a daily basis and this humble blogger cannot excuse himself from the guilty. We go around professing to know things for certain or believing that our methods or strategies are the correct way forward. The basic truth is that by thinking like this, we close our minds off to other options and possibilities. How do we know that what we are shown on our newsfeeds is in fact the truth? How do we know for a fact that our way of working is the most efficient if we refuse to even try the suggestions of others? How do we know that somebody we are attracted to is actually interested in that way (or vice-versa)?

That’s not to say that you or I are wrong in what we do or believe but we might be. Might be. That’s the key thing to remember and take away. We might be wrong because for as much as we know for a fact, there is so much more that we don’t know. On top of that, even the few nuggets that we can hold on to as “fact” may be flipped upside down before our very eyes on the basis of new evidence or a fresh perspective that we hadn’t previously considered.

“You are not bigger than your own ignorance”

An example from my own life: a month or so ago, I mustered up the balls to ask out a girl that I had been into for some time. After past experience in mis-reading the signs and plain old delusions when it came to previous women in the past, I felt a lot more confident and assured this time. I felt fully in control of my emotions, hadn’t rushed into it and was rocking my new mindset of “if she says ‘no’ then it’s going to be shit but that’s life and I won’t waste time analysing it”. We’d been talking for a while now and it felt like positive talk: friendly yet teasing and I was sure that I could feel a spark. More importantly, I am a shit conversationalist and a bit of an introvert but even I often lost track of time and ended up chatting shit with this girl for around half an hour at a time.

In short, I ignored the advice of this very post by my future self and believed that THIS time, I was right and I was in with a chance. As you probably deciphered with scant assistance, she turned me down. Now I won’t go into her reasons or my own reaction because they have no further bearing on this topic. All I’ll say is that it is totally cool between us and despite being disappointed, I got over it quickly and did at least manage to stay true to my mindset of acknowledging that her rejection was a shit thing to happen but shit happens. I dusted myself down and carried on.

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[image: fluentin3months.com]
The point is, I believed that I was right and that I knew what the outcome was going to be when I was clearly wrong all along. Obviously I don’t regret sticking my balls on the line and taking the plunge and on that note I do want to say that taking what I’m saying onboard here doesn’t mean that you should fall into the trap of over-analysing a situation or being paralysed by indecision because you haven’t got all of the facts. You may never be able to access all of the facts or every side to a story. You can’t, for example, know all of the facts surrounding a big news story in a far flung part of the globe because you can’t be there to see what’s actually happening behind the veil of bullshit and propaganda that our western news outlets put up. You also can’t read another person’s mind and therefore can’t always predict how they really feel or how they view something. But you must still form an opinion or still have a go at getting that girl’s phone number or putting yourself out there in some other way.

It’s okay to be ignorant but it’s not okay to be intentionally ignorant is what I’m saying. I have come to see that it’s far healthier to always remember that you could be wrong. Don’t stop reaching for things and don’t necessarily change how you live your life but just remember that we rarely possess all of the facts and even when we do, there isn’t always the guarantee that those facts are untainted and raw. Don’t make assumptions (assume makes an ass out of u and me as Alice says in Stephen King’s book, Cell), don’t presume that your way of doing things is necessarily the best way and certainly don’t believe that you know the truth because the TV or internet told you something was so.

Knowing that you might be wrong helps keep your mind open to new ideas and information. It helps you listen to others and it makes you a much more humble person and not a closed-off “my way or the highway” individual. Don’t sacrifice your values or beliefs but be open to challenges and new perspectives.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong!

You don’t deserve anything

Recently I have made a lot of posts about things such as books and cars, subjects I do intend to continue covering (because this blog is a free-for-all as far as what I feel like talking about is concerned) but now it’s time to return to some of that real talk.

Or at least my attempts to make “real” talk. I could always be wrong but being wrong is another topic for another post.

So: you don’t deserve anything. I don’t deserve anything. Nobody deserves anything.

Obviously, the word “deserve”, its deriatives and the situations in which it is applied can cover a wide variety of scenarios and – as with pretty much everything on this mudball – there are exceptions. In this case, these exceptions are applications of the word “deserve” that I see as fair game and therefore exempt from what this post is about. Correct uses of deserving if you will. The two main exceptions that I want to define before I continue are:

  1. Saying that somebody got “what they deserved” after acting like an arsehole, being a criminal or choosing to be reckless in the face of all warnings. I don’t believe in karma or some sort of cosmic scales but I do believe in statistical odds and the fact that nobody can get away unscathed forever. Plus there is that added human satisfaction of seeing a corrupt celebrity behind bars or a car-jacker ran over by the very vehicle he was attempting to steal – that sort of thing.
  2. Saying that somebody deserves something more than another. The point of this post is for me to explain that nobody deserves anything but IF something fortunate or extremely positive WAS to happen to somebody then I see nothing wrong with judging who is more deserving of being the benficiary of that luck. Example: a struggling, honest working-class family is more deserving of a freak lottery win over a millionaire who still buys tickets because they still aren’t satisfied with their needlessly bloated bank balance.

What I actually want to address are all the whiny moaners with first-world problems, banging the woe-is-me drum and telling people that they “don’t deserve this” or that they DO in fact “deserve this to happen”. I should know because I used to be a whiny, entitled moaner myself before waking up a little bit more and realising some harsh truths.

It’s a problem born of negative mindsets such as entitlement, jealousy and pure ignorance. We’ve all heard people proclaiming that they deserve things and if you stop to consider their words then you may conclude that they are really fucking irritating “look at me” people who believe that their life is shit and perpetually swirling around in a shit-stained toilet bowl, destined for an appointment with the Sewer God. You may well have already reached this conclusion and elected to minimise your time around these people to try and limit the amount of unhelpful negativity that can – and will – rub off on you. We all know people like this.

There’s the unlucky-in-love guy that mopes around saying “I really deserve a girlfriend by now”

There’s the work-shy woman who does nothing to get a better job or stop blowing so much money on rubbish, all the while telling her friends that she deserves to have more money.

There’s that person we all know who is completely blind to what they DO have in their lives and eternally bleats on about how “nothing good ever happens” to them. These people also tend to come out with the old classic, “it’s about time I had some good luck”.

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[image: metrocebu.news]
There are a few harsh truths and points that I’d like to make to anybody who thinks like this, some of which helped me. I’m not saying that I’m a successful or “reborn” person at all. Fucking far from it. I consider myself to still be at the beginning of my own journey of development but I do feel that I have at least woken up to these truths and driven off a lot of those unattractive, entitled misconceptions.

  1. If you want something, you have to go out and get it. Obviously, putting this into practice is a completely different thing but the first step is to accept this truth. Yes, there is such a thing as freak luck but sitting around waiting for the chaotic element of life’s fabric to randomly toss you a bone is a fool’s game. If you want more money then you have to go and earn it. If you want to be better at flirting with girls or have more success getting laid then you have to practice, practice, practice. If you want to overcome an obstacle then you have to be prepared to tackle it.
  2. Shit happens. Sometimes it feels like shit is happening to you more than it is to your friend or that cocky mofo at work but shit happens to everybody. The difference is that those who seem to be able to dodge the brown bullets probably aren’t walking around moaning all the time. It’s okay to feel shit or to acknowledge that something that happened to you was crappy but dwelling on it for too long, over-analysing or – worst of all – believing that life is out to trip you up at every corner really won’t help.
  3. You are not special. What gives you the right to state that you deserve something? What have you done to earn that something? You need to realise that there is no universal force that sees an individual injustice and decides to step in and console the person with a reward for suffering it. It would be fantastic if such a thing were true but it isn’t.

The absolute worst people in my mind are those who believe their life is terrible when others, looking in from the outside, can see different. Most of us here in the western world have a roof over our heads, jobs to go to (regardless of how ‘good’ they are) and easy access to food/water. A lot of us get up every morning without fail and aren’t afflicted with diseases or horrible conditions and yet still we moan, moan, moan. I had a brief moment of relapse last week where I thought something along the lines of “my job is shit and I’ve had enough”. Then I saw a homeless man sitting in the doorway of a shop with a handmade sign telling passers by that he used to serve the country in the armed forces. I gave myself a metaphorical slap and reminded myself that there is absolutely nothing for me to be complaining about. I can only imagine what a homeless person’s reaction would be to the whining of a middle-class person with a home, car, family and job. It must sound utterly disgusting and hellishly ignorant.

The bottom line is that nobody deserves anything. Yes, there are people amongst us who deserve nice things more than others but the reality is that there are no free handouts. Complaining won’t change a thing and you will be forever miserable unless you start acknowledging the things that you do have and start working to get to where you want to be.

It’s time to wake up.

Suppressing our emotions = bad

So: this whole Liam Neeson thing that caused a major media shitstorm. It got me thinking about us and our society here in the West; about how our culture has developed to encourage the suppression of our true thoughts and feelings. After all, if you admit to an irrational thought-train that pulled into the station in response to a painful personal scenario (like Neeson did) then you are immediately torn into by social media and the militant SJW factions that have been waiting for the next major celebrity to slip up. It is my opinion that we should be able to discuss our darker thoughts openly providing that we haven’t actually acted upon them of course.

Now, I don’t want to go on about this Liam Neeson thing too much because the story is really only a springboard for this topic but I will quickly re-cap it for the three people that missed it the other week as some context is usually helpful. The short of it is that somebody close to Neeson was raped by a black man “years ago” (no actual specific date/year given) and the movie star admitted to walking the streets for a week, hoping that a black man would randomly start some trouble with him so that he could kill them.

“God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions. I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way but my immediate reaction was… I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.”

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [uses air quotes with fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”

“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that. And I’ve never admitted that, and I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.”

“It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it.”

I’m not going to dissect this too much though because the interview has already been analaysed to death. Also, I’m not here to look at the racial side of Neeson’s comments. What I WILL say is that he was crazy to expect he could admit this stuff and not invite a turbo-charged media storm. It’s – sadly – the age we live in and one seemingly innocent admission could sink a career.

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[image: CNN.com]
And this is the point of this post. There are many with a neutral stance on this story who are saying that Liam Neeson should have just not said anything. As I mentioned just above, I can see why this line of thinking comes about but all it encourages is a suppression of our thoughts, feelings and emotions. What Neeson admits to is some pretty heavy shit and while I could never support what he did, I can still understand to an extent. Clearly the crime affected him deeply and sometimes, these things give birth to wholly irrational thoughts and mental states that seem insane when looking back on them with the benefit of time’s passage. At the time however, the irrational nature of these emotions is very difficult to see if it’s you in the eye of the storm.

Unfortunately, our society has grown highly competent at playing Judge/Jury/Executioner and so if you are considering letting some shit out that has been weighing your mind down then it will take some huge balls to do so. After all, rather than take a balanced approach and attempt to disagree but also understand, it’s much more fashionable to loudly condemn a person for their perceived sins. It’s even easier to do this if the confessor in question wants to open up about anything relating to race or sex. Finally, if you are a celebrity or somebody of high profile, then expect the brain-dead social media sheep to jump on the bandwagon and bleet their rage. Not necessarily because they give a shit but because it makes them look fashionable to be commenting on a high profile news story and be seen to be appalled by something, anything. It’s easy to condemn from that safe spot behind your screen isn’t it? I guarantee that at least 90% of people wouldn’t even bother getting involved if social media was non-existent and doing something about something meant getting off their arses to join physical protest marches.

Hypocrisy rears its diseased head at this point because we are constantly being told that it’s “good to talk” and to be open but it seems that this only stands if the nature of your problems or innermost thoughts is acceptable by the standards of the mindless Twitter mobs, the easily offended and “Won’t somebody think of the children?!?” brigade. Anything remotely controversial or worrying means that you ARE a racist or that you ARE a sexual predator/rapist. As I touched on at the very start of this post, there is a clear divide between having bad thoughts and actually doing something about them. I am in no way excusing those who have followed through on them because it means that somebody else has been hurt or had their life destroyed as a result and the offender needs taking out of society and either punishing or rehabilitating.

But how many of these crimes could have been prevented if society was more open about discussing our more unpleasant thoughts? I ask because it’s basic knowledge that suppressing emotions or hiding certain things only makes them grow stronger over time, perhaps to the point where they warp minds and the owners lose control. We’ve all heard the one about the shy, innocent girl actually being the filthiest of the lot due to suppressed sexuality or having to “watch out for the quiet ones”.

I’m not saying that there is complete, consistent truth in those random examples but one thing I DO know is that nobody is black or white. We are all both. Yin and Yang. Light and Dark. Good and Bad. To try and completely suppress the unsavoury and socially unacceptable segments of our psyche and become modern day saints in the process is a foolish and impossible task. That’s why I believe it is important to talk if it will help ‘release’ some of the bad thoughts but we must be comfortable in opening up without being sent to the figurative gallows. We must also learn to understand and accept that we all have a darkness within and that acknowledging its existence and being comfortable with it could well be one of the best ways of controlling it.

I often like to return to this fantastic quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

“Where the light is brightest, the shadows are deepest”

At the end of the day, I can’t take the self-righteous whiter-than-white do-gooders seriously when they scream about people being wrong or the devil incarnate for simply having human thoughts. Irrational and unpleasant, yes but human all the same. We evolve over thousands and millions of years so to expect society to shed its primal, territorial instincts so quickly (in relative terms) with no margin for slip-ups is ludicrous. The fact that we are as civilised and morally conscious as we are NOW is a small miracle in itself and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

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Even this White Knight chess piece casts a shadow…[image: Tiptopprops.com]

The self-righteous and uber-SJWs amongst us try to be as white and morally superior as possible but the stronger their light becomes, the longer the shadows grow. It’s why those crusading for “good” causes have been known to employ suspect tactics in order to get what they want. On a more basic level, these people are no different or better than the average man or woman and will be harbouring the same dark thoughts or desires behind closed doors, even if only in small, harmless quantities. You can’t have Good without Bad due to the nature of a small thing called Balance. The best we can strive for is to be as Good as possible and keep the dark in check while acknowledging that it is there.

So next time somebody “does a Neeson” and comes out with something outrageous, stop and take a moment before reacting. I’m not telling you to agree with their admission or to let it slide without challenge or scrutiny but at least try to understand and ask yourself if you have been in their situation yourself. Can you actually relate? Are you qualified to judge their state of mind without the relevant experience? Most importantly, did the person in question actually act on their irrational thoughts?

What I’m saying is, don’t preach tolerance and freedom of speech if you aren’t prepared to tolerate other people’s thoughts or allow them to be honest.

Book Talk: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck (Mark Manson, 2016)

tsa-1I’m somebody who isn’t really that happy with their life and so – this admission out of the way – I’ve read a lot of self-help material and watched countless motivation and self-improvement videos on Youtube. Thing is, a good chunk of this stuff is, as it turns out, complete bullshit that doesn’t sink in at all. Even worse, a lot of it could be detrimental to our quests to improve. All of this advice that instructs you to be forcibly positive and happy 24/7 for example…it’s actually the opposite of what you should be doing.

Well, according to Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck that is. Avoiding the negativity in your life and plastering over it with forced affirmations and fake-it-until-you-make-it positivity is no good. Refusing to acknowledge problems means that you will never solve them and if you furiously focus on positives then all you are really doing is reinforcing the existence of the negatives. This is just a taste of the kind of insight this book offers.

In reality, Mark Manson’s advice is all stuff that we should already be aware of but we seem to have lost our way. Taking personal responsibility for everything in your life, the importance of being able to say “no” and how to decript the (potentially shitty) values that you are living by are just some of the over-arching themes that make up this book of real talk. It’s eye-opening stuff that seems so obvious and simple yet our consumer-driven culture obsessed with the ego, financial wealth and materialism has warped our sense of reality over time.

I’m not saying “buy this book and your life will be fixed” but all I CAN say is that this is the first self-improvement book that I burned through at a great pace then read again immediately. And you know what? I think I might even read it a third time. There are many lessons and pointers that you can take from the book and implement in your own life straight away but The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck has resonated with me so much that I feel like ramming it into my mind.

I’ve learned that I probably complain too much and that I also blame others and past events for my problems. I’ve learned that I need to take personal responsibility for 100% of my life. I’ve taken away new ways of thinking and looking at life.

As I said, all seemingly obvious stuff but until reading this book, I wasn’t fully aware of how much I was doing wrong in life. I’m not here to make such cliched statements as “It changed my life” but I do feel as if I have been given a kick up the arse and a bit of a jump-start. I cannot say the same for 99% of other books or videos that I have tried.

The book is very easy to read too as it comes across as more casual and direct-talking versus other alternatives which can sometimes be a bit too stuffy and loaded with psychology-speak. I would even go as far as to say that it is an enjoyable read in general regardless of whether or not you are looking to get anything out of the experience. If you are like me though and want to improve yourself and figure out where you might be going wrong then I would heartily recommend putting the other stuff on hold and giving The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck a shot.

Youtube Comments: An Embarassment to Humanity

Many things frequently convince me to part with my faith in mankind and the future of our race. The fact that we use centuries of accumulated intelligence and technology not for our benefit but to continue killing one another for the benefit of spiritual mystical beings for example. The periodic threats of nuclear war that threaten millions all because bullish world leaders insist on winning the latest edition of “How large is your penis?”. Or even the idea that maintaining the right to purchase military-grade firearms is of greater importance than innocent children being filled with bullets and thus denied a future, all because they did something as outrageous as show up for school.

All of these things (and countless others also qualifying as entire discussion points in their own right) rarely fail to make me think “we’re so fucked as a race, aren’t we?”. They all pale in comparison to the comments sections on Youtube videos however.

Seriously, I have come to the conclusion that if you wish to see the most hate-filled, racist, cold, emotionless, easily-triggered, tasteless keyboard warriors that the internet has to offer then this is the place to go. You can probably point me in the direction of some less mainstream, off-grid web hangouts where entities (let’s not grace them with the term ‘People’) of an even fouler nature lurk but there are two reasons that make Youtube’s warzone comments so notable as I see it:

  1. This is one of the most mainstream, easily visible and accessible internet destinations out there. The hate and bile is right there for all to see and while videos may be flagged as 18+, the comments certainly aren’t.
  2. Facebook, Twitter and other high-profile social networking services come under repeated media fire for breeding peer pressure, hate speech, extreme bullying and depression yet Youtube seems to escape the spotlight despite being just as influential and integral to its users’ lives.

It seems that any video in any genre simply cannot exist without a simple disagreement of opinion becoming an issue of the commenters’ racial identity or right to life. I have seen people told to “fuck off and die” for having a different taste of music for example and I’d consider that mild by the standards of Youtube’s trolls. Don’t forget that these entities have standards so low that you’d have to drill down deeper than the deepest layer of the sewage network to even stand a chance of finding them. When you did find these so-called standards, you’d likely feel cleaner by returning to the sewers and taking a swim in that glorious cocktail of piss, shit and used tampons.

I have screen-grabbed an example of such bizarre behaviour to dissect and this (like my “fuck off and die” recollection) is still extremely tame. This is taken from a video of Rocky II‘s training montage. I’ve edited out the names and profile pictures of those involved even though I’m unsure that some of them deserve their anonymity but what can I say; I have a bit of class I suppose.

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As you can see, it starts off fairly nondescript with somebody being a smartarse and disputing the original comment because they decided to take it as literally as possible and combine the worlds of real-life sports trainers and their fictional movie counterparts. Then the opinion is put forward that Duke (Apollo’s trainer) was in fact superior to Mickey – a fair enough opinion (even if it is presented as a fact). Then, enter the Pedant archtype who isn’t happy that people casually discussing a movie have committed the cardinal sin of confusing managers with trainers.

So far, so good, right? But then…

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I’d ask if this was really that necessary or how we made it from the manager/trainer discussion to suicide but I can’t seem to find a suitable collection of words so I’ll let this classic meme do the talking while I gather myself.

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[image: imgflip.com]
And so it continued…

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I would attempt to commentate on this conclusion to the discussion but I don’t think I need to. For the purposes of re-capping however: a Rocky II clip inspired a conflict of opinions on trainers and managers. Said conflict then evolved into a not-so-subtle suggestion that one of the involved parties should go and hang themselves (as you do for confusing trainers with managers, real life trainers with Rocky trainers or for being a Duke fan). Finally, a good ol’ race-fuelled argument.

As I said, this is a very tame example. So tame in fact that it barely registers. Many other furious debates succeed in racking up hundreds of replies and utterly vile on-screen words that sometimes defy belief. Some may argue that I should “grow up” or just accept that this is life in 2019 but I refuse to accept that. The fact is, you don’t hear people speak this way in the real world. They are keyboard warrior trolls on a power-trip, safe behind their monitors or smartphone displays. Let’s see them stand face-to-face with a grown man in the street and tell them to go hang themselves for holding the opinion that Megadeth is better than Iron Maiden. Most of us swear and rib our mates about their opinions but it’s done with humour and an understanding of the boundaries. We know who we can share black humour or crude jokes with for example.

In Youtube Land however, there is very real malice from a sizeable number of users who appear to think nothing of making a simple disagreement personal and bringing somebody else’s ethnicity into it for no reason at all. They see no problem with telling another commenter that they used their sister as a “cum dumpster” the night before last when in reality, they are probably a basement-dwelling professional troll with no real life interior knowledge of a woman’s underpants.

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It’s over-compensation and feeling powerful by putting others down magnified ten-fold (at a minimum). Trolls and keyboard warriors on Youtube (and most other social networks for that matter) come in two varieties: the first species is neaderthal in nature and not yet in possession of an imagination. Hard-hitting, punchy insults and childlike tantrums punctuated by words such as “fuck” and “cunt” are their only form of response to anybody who dares challenge their hard-man act. Ironically, it’s these types – who seem the most ghastly and repulsive at first – who probably have the most hope of transitioning to a regular human being. A slim hope mind, slimmer than the gap that the Millenium Falcon squeezes out of after attacking the Death Star II’s core in Return of the Jedi. It’s the second species of troll that you have to be more wary of.

Passive-aggressive prose and carefully constructed replies designed to poke and prod at another is their style. Rather than going in fists-swinging with their digital mouth vomiting out swears, these social rejects get their thrills by laying the bait and toying with the fish they manage to hook. Accomplished grammar, a calm persona and the ability to respond to anything are other hallmarks to look out for. These are the sorts of trolls who refuse to let their opponent claim the last say and achieve a trouser tent by retrieving facts and figures to discredit another viewpoint or working out how to push another’s buttons. You can imagine them sitting back with a wide, toad-like grin as they watch somebody else unravel and if all else fails, they have no qualms about signing off with an ice-cold, passionless put-down.

Read too much of this crap and you begin to wonder if these people have a life outside of the internet or how awful their own existence must be if they need to throw their self-respect beneath a dumpster and communicate with others in a such a revolting manner. More to the point of this topic’s title, it’s embarassing that this is a representation of us, the human race. What happened to agreeing to disagree and accepting that not everybody holds the same opinions as us? Somewhere along the line, it became essential to always be right (a mathematical impossibility in itself) and fling insults around like uncivilised apes slinging turds. Somebody disagree with your outlook? No problem; just tell them to jump off a bridge (while promising that you will be banging their mother as they plummet to their doom).

But then again, I’ve just written a big blog post about morons and wasted some of my life analysing their motives so what the fuck do I know.

Unrequited Attraction: A Necessary Suffering

Here on Unfiltered Opinion, I’m not shy about dropping F-bombs or broadcasting my blunt assessments of news events and life. As such, it may seem that I have a harsh or unforgiving nature but I’m here today to make a somewhat contradictory confession to lead us into the topic that I want to discuss today. That admission is that I am a bit of a sappy romantic when it comes to love. I can’t get enough of things like chivalry, legends of heroic knights saving the day for their lady and all that crap. This has led me into trouble on several occasions because I have found myself hopelessly giddy for certain girls/women in the past and gone in WAY too deep with my heart while neglecting my mind and reason.

Before I go any further however, I feel that it’s important to point out that I do also believe that none of this should be applied to real world romance. Yes, there are exceptions amongst the fairer sex that will be receptive to some good old-fashioned chivalry but on the whole, the White Knight persona is bad news and should be discarded immediately if a man wishes to push a woman’s biological buttons and rev her up. I’m not saying that you should be an arsehole instead or that you shouldn’t hold doors open or buy a girl flowers but there’s a fine line between being a gentleman and just being a mug.

As I said, I have been down the path of getting too swept away by an initial attraction and this post is about coming out on the other side and being better off for some emotional suffering and hard but entirely necessary life lessons. As I also said, I still love all of that romantic shit but my head is screwed on tightly these days and I don’t intend to be so gung-ho about the flowery stuff going forward.  This is me relating (loosely to smudge over any sensitive or personal information) my most recent folly and the important lessons that I learned.

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[Image: Pinterest]
This happened a few years back now. The lady in question was somebody I met through work and it was a completely unexpected encounter that knocked me for six. Have you ever bumped into somebody for the first time and thought “wow” then been unable to stop thinking about them? Well, that’s what happened here and it didn’t take me long to think “fuck it” and go for it. I got knocked back and was fine with that at first because I was just glad that I at least knew I’d chanced my arm but still, she wouldn’t leave my head and with having to see her frequently, the attraction refused to wane.

This went on for about a year with me in full-on fool mode, telling myself that I had no chance but not believing the truth that I was attempting to convince myself of. I couldn’t get her out of my head and I got into quite a bad place where I ultimately ended up wishing I’d never met her or that she’d just leave me alone. It was a bit of a mini episode that I look back on now and feel embarassed about in all honesty. I obviously wasn’t in full command of my rationale and I still kick myself for having let it happen after going through a couple of similar albeit less dramatic scenarios in the past when I was even younger. It was self-inflicted torture and a subconscious refusal to just accept the situation and let go.

I was angry that I’d allowed this to happen but looking back on it now, I can see how this lady got under my skin. I met her at the tail end of a year where I’d been fighting depression and had some pretty nasty thoughts about wanting to just give up and not carry on. I was tired and had had enough so my state of mind must have been quite fragile at this point and my emotional guard very low. I do remember feeling that I’d had more than enough shit and that I felt like I deserved to pursue something positive. Ironically it turned out to be a massive neg in the end but that stressful experience became a life lesson – I can see that now in hindsight.

For you see, we all want to be that person who doesn’t have to deal with remembering the one that got away and nobody wants to feel like they lost out but the truth is that most of us WILL encounter unrequited attraction or love at some point. Perhaps you are desperate for somebody who is already spoken for or maybe you think the world of somebody who simply doesn’t view you as anything more than friends. These things happen. They hurt and they suck giant balls but it’s a form of suffering that needs to be endured and come to terms with because important lessons rise from the ashes of these unfortunate situations.

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[Image: weheartit.com]
In my case, the biggest take-away was learning (as I should have done years ago to be fair) not to get too invested or set on somebody and simply be much calmer about it all. So far, my new attitude towards attraction has been working pretty well and when I’ve not managed to get anywhere with somebody I’ve taken a liking to (for whatever reason) then I’ve simply thought “well that was a bit shit wasn’t it?” and moved on. Yes, I DO want somebody but I’m not desperate to force a situation and escaping being single is no longer a do-or-die mission in my head. It’s not “giving up”; it’s about having greater self-respect for myself and not ignoring oppurtunities but also not allowing them to rapidly evolve into the be all and end all.

For the majority of people, this is all pretty self-explanatory or just common, subconscious “normal” behaviour anyway so you will be probably be reading this and thinking “what the fuck is this twunt banging on about?” but some of us are just wired differently or affected by our past experiences and relationships. In my case, I’ve had to learn to alter my attitude and philosophy after that particular emotional slog and while I feel that I might be “behind” in terms of society, I am glad of the emotional suffering because I learnt from it.

This brings me to the final thing I want to touch on in this post and that is about how it seems that millenials and younger people in general today appear to be determined to actively avoid this suffering and rejection. I don’t wish to tar all teenagers and those in their very early twenties with the same brush but I have seen a lot of avoidance and complete inability to cope with rejection on social media. Rather than seeing the eventual value in suffering and moving on, it seems more popular to congregate in Facebook and Twitter’s echo chambers and feed off of others’ negative emotions while contributing their own to the big mixing bowl of depression. The extreme posts I have seen such as people making suicidal statements because they were dumped or acting as if they are the only ones to ever be rejected in the history of humanity are something else. I also learned of “ghosting” and to be completely frank, that is such a heap of pathetic bullshit that should never have been given a name let alone existence as an actual concept.

It can’t be healthy for society in general if people are growing up with this entitled attitude and believing it is better for them to indulge in each other’s misery rather than growing as human beings. Perhaps it is hypocritical of myself to make these observations after taking (in my humble opinion) far too long to learn some of my own lessons but it’s another of those instances that makes me question the negative reprocussions of social media being so tightly intertwined with the lives of the younger generation.