It never ceases to amaze me how, in our information-saturated culture, people still take stuff at face value. If it’s on the printed page, or especially on the screen, people just turn their critical faculties off. Let me start with a story:
My last semester of college was a total blowoff. I already had enough credits to graduate at the end of the previous term, but I figured that since I was on scholarship, I might as well use the remaining time to really lock down a job. One fell into my lap over the break, but it was too late to withdraw my registration and file for graduation. And that wasn’t all. My GPA was such that I could’ve failed every single class in that final semester and still graduated. And finally, the job was all the way across the country….
In short, absolutely nothing I did, or didn’t do, that final semester meant anything at all. I was as responsibility-free as an “adult” human can ever hope to get.
This had some interesting consequences. I got laid a lot more, for one thing — sorry about the crudity, but it’s a great illustration of the principle. The principle being: “When you truly don’t care, you project this invincible vibe that attracts people.” My friends were all shocked — not just about the getting laid part, but the fact that my whole personality seemed to change. I am not, as you might imagine, the most outgoing, happy-go-lucky guy, but that semester I was.
I mean, why not? I’d hit on varsity cheerleaders and sorority goddesses. I turned in wildly counter-intuitive assignments, just to see what would happen. I signed up for Intro to Conversational Chinese. Totally bombed it, but seriously, why not? I’ve always wanted to know if I have a knack for languages (turns out I don’t), and that was the hardest one in the course catalog. So long as I stayed alive and out of jail, I could do whatever the hell I wanted… so I did.
The lesson I drew from this: Certainty is liberation. It’s bliss. I still had anxieties, of course — e.g. how was I going to do in my new life, all the way across the continent? — but in my current context, I had no worries at all. I was King of the Dorm, because, quite simply, I could afford to be. I had three hots and a cot, endless free time, and a give-a-damn meter stuck on zero.
If I were quicker on the uptake, I’d have identified that instant as my turn to the Shitlord side of the Force. What in god’s name am I doing, hitting on the homecoming queen? Doesn’t matter. She could blow me off so viciously that dudes three blocks over would wince and cover themselves,* and I couldn’t care less. Why not shoot for the moon? If I win, I’m a dorm legend; if I fail, I’m still a dorm legend for having the balls to try it. In two months, I’ll be a thousand miles away and nobody will care about either of us.
Fast forward a decade or so. Now I’m in grad school, and the lessons of my brief time as King of the Dorm are coming back to me full throttle. No one else on this earth, I assure you, is so dogmatically certain of anything as ivory tower types are of everything. What they believe today might be 180 degrees from what they believed yesterday, but they still believe it with a fanatical zeal that would make Torquemada blush. Whatever “it” is, it is the capital-T Truth, and they alone possess it….
So why are they always so fucking miserable?
Let’s stipulate, for instance, that gender really is just a social construction. Even if it’s not, you’re dogmatically certain of this. Crucially, everyone else in your world is equally dogmatically certain, so even if it’s not, it is. Shouldn’t you be much, much, much happier? So you’re really a wingless golden-skinned dragonkin. Cool. Everyone else is 100% on board with this. You should be the happiest wingless golden-skinned dragonkin on earth… but you’re not. You’re miserable, and you do your damnedest to make every single other person you come in contact with miserable, too.
As a wise man once put it, if you run into an asshole in the morning, well, you just ran into an asshole. If you run into nothing but assholes all day, then you’re the asshole.
Same question to atheists. I can understand nonbelievers being tormented by their uncertainty, but an atheist is dogmatically certain there’s no god… so why aren’t y’all happier? Why, exactly, does the kid with cancer make you mad? The universe, you’re sure, is nothing but the random collision of atoms. It sucks for the kid that those atoms collided in that particular way, but why are you mad? More to the point, why are you mad? It’s like getting mad at gravity for that apple bonking you on the head. There’s no cosmic injustice without cosmic justice. I’d expect a zenlike calm, but instead, every time I write something about atheism (which I really don’t very often), I get a whole bunch of sour, bitter, angry atheists dropping in to tell me that I’m the asshole.
Take it out as far as you like. You want to know why “impeachment” is a sham? Turn on the tv, but leave the sound off. Does Adam Schiff look like he believes a word he’s saying? Does anyone?
We’re so saturated with information that we’ve forgotten how to read people. We’ve forgotten how to engage our critical faculties. I’ve long said that the easiest way to refute a Liberal “argument” is simply to take it seriously, and follow it out logically. The same is true for people. If they actually believe what they say, then they’d behave in a certain, predictable way. They don’t behave that way, ergo….