Most people are born good. They’re corrupted in the process of having to adjust themselves to the world they inhabit. Some are quicker at that than others. As an example, I was always a frugal person, disinterested in material wealth. At age 27 I had it rubbed in my face that you can be a millionaire before you’re thirty, even without being lucky or a sportballs player/instagram model/soundcloud mumbler. At that point I made the switch and began seriously investing, mediocrity just wasn’t acceptable anymore.
The same principle kind of applies to speaking the truth. Consider a person like J. K. Rowling. If you seriously read what she had to say, it would be pretty clear that nothing she said is untrue. The thing you have to ask yourself however is: Why would you annihilate your career for it? For whatever reason, J. K. Rowling is the kind of person who genuinely believes all the politically correct progressive nonsense everyone else on Twitter constantly peddles. There’s one exception: She can’t genuinely get herself to believe that we should surgically start altering the bodies of miserable teenagers.
What J. K. Rowling apparently doesn’t comprehend is as following: Most of us just lie. We pretend that we believe all this stuff people require us to believe, because it makes our lives easier. Does Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks really believe the Armenian genocide took place? I don’t know, but I think if he doesn’t believe it, he won’t tell us. Is Barack Obama really a Christian, or a closeted atheist? Chances are he’s lying. Plenty of Republican politicians are lying about their sexual orientation. Plenty of Democratic politicians are lying when they pretend to be perfectly comfortable with homosexuality.
The thing is, some people end up genuinely believing in what modern society preaches, but then there’s one stumbling block that they can’t process. J. K. Rowling apparently experienced some transitory gender dysphoria as a teenager, so she can’t with a straight face pretend that we should inject teenage girls with male hormones. Most people in her position would keep their mouths shut, but she can’t keep quiet about it.
Of course you could say “J. K. Rowling is brave”, but bravery and stupidity are generally hard to tell apart from each other. What happens in the real world when you speak the truth, even when you’re J. K. Rowling, is that people just get angry at you and destroy you. Some guy in Nazi Germany who said “you know the Jews are alright, we shouldn’t kill them” would have been brave too, but speaking out about systemic societal failures is a way to get yourself in trouble, almost without exception. The trick is to be brave during moments when there’s genuinely something at stake.
I’m very bad at lying. Fortunately, most of the time I have learned to just keep my mouth shut, but if you pressed me on something, I would feel dirty if I gave a socially acceptable response. Do you think vaccines are safe? Do you think some guys in a cave carried out 9/11? Do you think the police disproportionately kill black men because they are institutionally racist? Do you think education is the solution for inequality? When I’m pressed on these sort of questions, it always causes me trouble.
The thing is, most of us don’t make a living as a 9/11 Truther or an alt-right commentator or anything along those lines, so we stand nothing to gain from answering any of these sort of questions honestly. We just learn to keep our mouths shut. Of course some people are even luckier, in the sense that they never even have these type of questions enter their minds. Do you think RuPaul sits down on a friday night with a bunch of other drag queens at his porch, opens a bottle of whiskey and says: “You know, I still don’t understand why NORAD had all these exercises going on simultaneously on 9/11?” The question never even occurs to him.
The thing that most people skip over is that you’re far more dangerous when you’re dishonest than when you’re honest. J. K. Rowling is a billionaire, but it doesn’t seem like she has figured out what to do with it. She doesn’t want miserable teenagers to have their genitalia chopped off by surgeons, a noble cause. You can say “let’s stop chopping off genitalia” on Twitter and the money stops coming in. On the other hand, if you invite some people at a college department or a feminist think tank over for dinner and you “wink wink” at them, then they’ll start parroting your talking points when you start handing them money.
So, what I’m trying to learn is to be more dishonest. It’s clear to me that this is easy for most people, it’s something automatic for them. Many people lie automatically, without even thinking about it. In addition, they don’t even question what they’re being told, so they’re playing life on autopilot. Some guy dies in Minneapolis? Change your profile pic! If you never think for yourself, the angry mob won’t even notice you exist.
Of course there are advantages to being capable of questioning what you’re told. The advantage is most obvious when you’re in business. If everyone is convinced that COVID19 is going to kill us all and we’ll need to stay in lockdown until there’s a vaccine, you can earn relatively easy money. People like Steve Bannon and Peter Thiel became rich and powerful, because they have the rare capacity among famous people to question what the crowd believes. Most famous people become famous because they parrot what the crowd believes, but a minority becomes famous because they gain power by using the crowd’s stupidity against it.
So, from this point onwards, you can just expect me to lie. Everyone else lies constantly, so I feel like I’m playing the game of life with one hand tied behind my back by being honest and I’m tired of it. From now on, when some felon gets shot while he tries to steal an officer’s gun I’ll be #outraged by this blatant #racist #whitesupremacy. From now on, I’m convinced that we’ll have 11 billion people by 2100, Nigeria will have twice as many people as the European Union, this will all work out fine and the only real environmental problem we face is a lack of solar panels.
Sixteen million people on a pile of sinking clay, forced to accept an annual influx of more people in need of cheap housing? Yeah sure, that should work out fine, the only reason you and other young people can’t afford to buy a house is clearly due to neoliberalism. Aspartame? Yeah it’s good for you, it’ll help you lose weight. No, I’m not some anti-vaxxer science-hater who reads obscure conspiracy blogs, of course I’m 100% sincere.
You knocked up the girl you met on Tinder half a year ago? Congratulations, I’m happy for you, put a ring on that! You bought some Beyond Meat stock? Yeah, with a price to sales ratio of 25, just hold onto that for a few years and you’ll be retiring when you’re thirty! I love your normiecore soundcloud playlist too by the way, I really can’t get enough of that ambient techno music referred to as “minimal” that sounds the same as the stuff every other hip soylent-gulching codemonkey listens to.
Of course every once in a while I’ll stumble upon another person with an IQ above room temperature who pretends to be dumb to fit into the crowd. When we meet each other, what do we do? We’ll carefully tread the water. We’ll probably speak in metaphors. The process will be difficult to distinguish from occultism.
This is not new. During the fall of the Roman empire, a dumb mob took control of Western civilization. It’s the mob you know well. It’s the mob that killed Hypatia and prohibited the worship of all Gods other than their own. What did smart people do? They kept their mouths shut and they started paying lip service to the dumb mob. Sure, they had their houses filled with paintings of Roman deities, but they were 100% legit Christians, no doubt about it. It’s not like they were trying to avoid getting #canceled by the mob or anything.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ll leave you with some music: