How One Joke Can Ruin Your Life

 

 

I had originally put the topic of this blog post down as “In defense of all jokes”. This was actually a topic I had kept on the doc since the older days of Astuka’s Blog (and so, in a way, this serves as a throwback to last week’s article). Of course, as we’ve already addressed, my opinions have changed a lot since that time… and so, do I still believe it’s reasonable to defend all jokes?

I’ll start off with my original thesis for the article. It is true that there are offensive jokes, and it is true that there are jokes that can sometimes be mistimed (i.e. “too soon”) or otherwise poorly conceived. However, my idea was that we should be judging exclusively the quality of that joke rather than extrapolating it to judge the character of the person telling it or their intentions. If a joke is bad, leave it as a joke is bad, rather than trying to dig up more out of it. Take in mind this thesis came out at a time where the “big comedy scare” was occuring; comedians seemed to be getting banned from college campuses en-masse, and many prominent comedians (most famously Ricky Gervais) were speaking out against this.

A few weeks from now I intend to write an article in full about what I call “The Shame Economy”, and I think this whole comedy scare plays a lot into that. When someone makes a bad joke, it’s very easy to change the narrative and harvest shame off of them, exiling them back to some dark corner of the internet. This was the main idea of the TED Talk by Jon Ronson, where all of our key elements seem to be in place: we have an individual who makes and offensive + poorly conceived joke, who is then set on by a group of irrational actors who extrapolate the joke to the character, and then harvest shame, and then cause a groupthink incident to occur where the woman gets much more punishment than any of us really think she ought to deserve, including a full dox as well as a constant bombardment of realistic death threats.

To me there’s two key aspects that play a role here: the audience of the joke and the actions of the individual pre- and post-joke. Starting with the first, it’s much harder to send out an offensive joke of social media, where a variety of irrational actors are scouring the feeds looking to gain a share of the Shame Economy. So, if one really did want to take a joke like this, it makes more sense to due it in a deep friend circle or otherwise with people you could trust would take the joke well. This is similar to what I do personally, telling different “tiers” of jokes based on my knowledge and relationship with the person. Secondly, I think the way the person is perceived by others before the joke makes a big difference. I think Ricky Gervais is in a much more advantaged position to make an offensively bad joke than Justine Sacco, as Gervais’ whole schtick is making jokes like these whereas Sacco was a relative no-name who hadn’t particularly done anything like this before. Similarly, I think content in post means a lot as well. Silence is probably the worst scenario in such a case, as prevailing silence from the person allows one to continue to develop false assumptions. Apologizing does work, but has a fairly low success record (that is, specifically on social media; it does have a fairly high success rate in normal conversation), and another option I like to call “Calling it out” where you make it very clear that the irrational actors are acting irrationally and that “it’s just a joke” (this is similar to something Ricky Gervais would use) actually does work fairly well in social media environments but still doesn’t have a perfect success rate (Of course, Sacco specifically wasn’t given too much of an option since the groupthink incident regarding her literally happened overnight as she slept).

So, going back to the main point of the article, I do think in the wide majority of cases jokes can still be defended, although I think individuals making these jokes should still keep in mind those two key aspects. There are certainly fringe cases where offensive jokes are the tells of more malicious behavior (e.g. a joke about jews told by a white supremacist) but not only are these cases much rarer but I also think it’s much easier to tell malicious intent in an open scenario (one could also take in mind here previous actions before the joke was told).

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Sexual Frustration and Trying to Find Love in the Age of the Internet

 

timo-stern-234939-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Timo Stern on Unsplash

 

Pick up artists. The red pill. Incels. These are topics that have interested me for a long time, mostly because they are all extreme solutions to a single problem; sexual frustration.

Really, all guys (and some girls, as we’ll get to later) understand the pain of not getting any. Whether you’re starting out in high school or there’s been a long hiatus since the last one, it can be kind of a drag to just jerk off and not feel any sexual comfort from someone else. This is a pretty essential and biological part of being a person, and so it’s a conflict we all have. The difference is in how we combat it.

Most just take the pain and head on through it. PUA and incels, however, represent two very extreme methods of conflict resolution. You might see incels on one end; people who have all about given up on receiving any pussy, and instead wallow in the fact that they are doomed to live a life of celibacy solely due to their genetics or what-have-you. This tends to be the start for individuals who fall into this specific sexual frustration path – individuals who tend to be loners out of high school, who have never really been too close to others, have certainly never been in a relationship, and feel left out in comparison to all the others. Their answer is that they are simply inferior; that they’ll never find anyone “good” (despite “good” meaning almost impossible to obtain standards) and instead should mope around and attack the “Chads” of the world, figureheads who represent perfect standards and are “getting the sex all of the time”.

Inceldom is pretty much the lowest it gets. From here, people tend to get “promoted” to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, picked off by those who call themselves Pick Up Artists, or PUAs for short.  These PUAs dispense “The Red Pill” to incels (note: this is a different “Red Pill” from those that the Trump fans and Alt-Right use – rather than being about the Left, it’s about women). This Red Pill philosophy states exactly what the incels wish to hear; that, no, it’s not about you, its about your strategy. As it turns out, women are not meant to be romanced, but rather to be conquered, because when we were Neanderthals we did such-and-such, and if you read the research by so-and-so, you’ll find that women actually love being demeaned and otherwise sexist behavior, and that’s how you graduate to being one of the Chads. PUAs tend to identify with the “Chad” lifestyle, however unlike the Chads hold a lot of sympathy for incels (probably because this is the main demographic they sell their books and courses to). While some incels are wary of the PUAs, others see them as some sort of ubermensch.

The stages here are pretty clear: we start with depression and hopelessness and then “graduate” into anger and retaliation. Both of these are obviously not the way to go about things, and people still fall into it. This is all because the PUAs did get one thing right; that part of this is biological; that we need the comfort of someone else or things get difficult. And I think in a way this is a problem that both males and females can relate to; that despite women tending to care more about romantic elements rather than sexual elements, they can still feel this hurt sometimes. While there is no equivalent of PUAs for women, there are a small group who call themselves femcels – quite literally female incels – who, ironically, despise incels, saying that their overly high standards pertain to their sexism, and that if they would “lower their standards” enough, they would find someone.

I don’t, however, think “standards” for beauty or personality are the problem here. Certainly the massive incel checklist of having to be a perfect Asian housewife who has never even considered a sexual thought previously is a bit of a stretch (and truthfully a bit sexist on top of that), I think that finding a suitable partner really has to do a lot with looking in the right places. Remember what I said earlier; incels tend to be social outcasts. They aren’t going out, seeing other people, or are even on sites like Tinder or Bumble. And while there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with being a social outcast, it tends to feed a lot into the issue of frustration that causes them to be incels in the first place. If there was an outlet for these individuals beyond incels.is or the Andrew Tate fanboard, perhaps they would be able to get out of this aforementioned sex rut.

Take in mind, however, that another big part of this is the path of least resistance, a negative effect that all people experience and that I’ve mentioned quite a few times before on blogposts. Why do people wallow on incel boards in the first place? Because it’s easier than taking action. When people are not motivated by outside factors, they fall inward. And, for the most part, no one is going to encourage you to go an have a sexual partner; especially if you’re a social loner. You also won’t be motivated to engage in activities like self-care or self-improvement, which are probably the more realistic measures to get to this so called “Chad” status than just constantly throwing out cheesy lines and asking girls numbers on the beach.

This all said, the most interesting thing about both these groups, I believe, is how weirdly relatable they are. Certainly, none of us would ever want to be caught dead associated with incels and PUAs, and yet… in a strange way… we feel them. We understand them. In many ways we can empathize with them.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Who Makes the Culture?

 

adam-muise-1457407-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Adam Muise on Unsplash

 

The culture of a given place and time is filled with a variety of complex cogs and elements. Still, the origins of a “culture” arises somewhere; the memetics and development of fads and fashions of the time all have a beginning. So, who makes the culture?

First you can look at the artists. Without Kanye West, or Game of Thrones, or Harry Potter, the world would be a very different place. These artists and their art place a foundation to how culture is prescribed. Different echelons of culture take inspiration from different types of art as well; some communities may favor cultural expression with something like Game of Thrones, whereas others might take it in the direction of Sailor Moon or Black Dynamite. The important thing is that these pieces of art influence the direction of the subgroup in one way or another.

Of course, though art does define a good chunk of the culture, it does not define all of it. Current events, political or otherwise, also shape the society. Drawn out news fads can often leave a deeper, more subtler impression on the state as a whole. Turbulent political times frame the outlook of a society, which is then manifested within the culture itself.

So, in summary of these two points: we can say that artists “make” the long-form general culture, which is then, at fixed points, is affected by the stance of the current climate of events. This climate is the second largest factor towards developing the culture. I would then say, at a micro-level, group dynamics play the final solidifying piece in developing the culture. A group is given the art and the climate, and must develop their own unique narrative based on these concepts. And so, these three distinct layers form the final culture cake.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

How to develop intellectual success in future generations

 

 

Intellect is a complicated problem, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous posts. There is really no good heuristic or measure out there for what makes a person truly “intelligent” (if you say IQ is a valid example, I’m going to be mad; more on that in approximately 10 weeks). However, I do believe there is a method behind allowing for the intellectual success of a person, especially at a young age.

Let me give a bit of an example so what I’m saying here actually makes sense: let’s say you have a person who was born “very smart” (we’ll say high logical-mathematical intelligence) but was born into a situation where perhaps resources are thin; say a poorer neighborhood with parents who have not really succeeded too much historically in education or otherwise. Because of this, it is going to be really hard for the said person to now “unlock” their intelligence and go on to utilize it cause they’ve never really had a chance to. Because of this, the edge of their ability gets duller as time goes on, and the competitive advantage is lost.

Extrapolating this slightly, I think now that this same problem is very much correlated with the mindset problem I discussed a few months back. You can’t get into a healthy mindset as easily if you aren’t surrounded by people who have this mindset. It doesn’t just have to be parents; it also includes friends, teachers, and a general outside support group. Since it is so hard to have the mindset to “unlock” potential or intelligence, I feel as though this is an overwhelming problem; people don’t just ignore following a healthy mindset, some outwardly reject its existence and mock people who try following it. This all comes back to how intellectual success is so hard to come by in general; if generation after generation is actively pushing against it, other people are going to fall off and fail.

I wish I had a better solution to this problem rather than “just stop doing this”, but I don’t. I do think the internet has helped a lot in this capacity – it certainly helped me – in the way that educational resources are easy to come by and that people can more readily make “mentors” out of people they might not necessarily know but be able to read the blog or watch the podcast of. Still, most people don’t use the internet for this; they use it instead for cat pictures and video game streams. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, it can provide a more “medicated” view of the world and distract us from these alternate entryways into intellectual success.

Despite the fact that I do not have a clear answer, I do think things will get better. I do believe as more people learn – as more people get out of the vicious cycle – that this problem will begin to mitigate. I just don’t know when it will happen.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.

The Dangers of Obedience

 

 

One of the topics that interest me the most in psychology has to do with obedience, or otherwise the act of doing what we’re told. As humans, we’re designed to recognize figures of experts or leaders and follow their advice accordingly. It’s a natural instinct; the leader of the pack usually knows where to go for survival, and so we follow. However, like many of our natural instincts, it has now become mostly deprecated due to advancement in society.

 

One of the startling things about obedience is how easy it is construct a false figure of an authority and have people still believe it. Things like the Milgram experiment and the McDonalds strip call case intersect with micro-cases like lecture halls and national governments in the sake of people pretending to be someone they might not be. What I mean here is that much of what we’ve established in our society is based on this fundamental aspect of obedience; obedience to laws, or culture, or politics. And while there are obedience principles put in place that help all of us, there also exists many faults with principles. Some of the greatest tragedies, wars, cults, and scandals have occurred out of obedience, out of blindly following the pack without considering where the pack is going.

 

Always think before you act. It’s something you’ve probably been told since you were a kid, but let me throw an important spin on it; always think before you act on what someone says. Perhaps I’m a bit too individualist for some people’s tastes, but I believe you should always consider your own personal morals and principles before considering to act upon the will of others. I believe that with more active forethought we can avoid the dangers that come with obedience.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.

The Curious Problem of Solving Transphobia

Welcome to another website exclusive! I figured that the last thing Medium and LinkedIn need a more pseudo-philosophical political conversations, so I’ve decided to keep this one (mostly) to myself.

I find the problem surrounding transphobia to be fascinating. In the way of stereotypes, I see three different categories: that of racism/sexism, that of homophobia, and that of transphobia. Racism/sexism is mostly built into specific societies based on significant historical events, i.e. America and the Atlantic Slave Trade. While there is noticeable periods of genders or races recognizing that other sides are “different”, mostly hatred between groups is only built up after significant events. However, once we get into homophobia, things get a little more complex. While there’s no biologically rational reason for rampant racism/sexism, homophobia is likely a biologically driven fear caused by the need for a species to continue to reproduce over time. Of course, this is no issue in modern day humanity, but one would reasonably assume that it would be built up over a very long time. It’s also worthwhile to note that the trend of homophobia waxes and wanes; while bisexuality was much more welcomed in something like Ancient Greece than it was in 1950s America.

But now comes a particularly strange issue. Transphobia is different because transsexuality itself hasn’t really even existed before. While gender dysphoria and simple substitutes such as drag have been a reality for a while, biological sex switching is a completely different ballpark.  This, in turn, can create a significant cognitive dissonance in a person; which is a lot harder of a problem to solve than the previous two.

In my opinion, if we want to mitigate transphobia over time, we need to do so by reducing the amount of cognitive dissonance associated with transsexuality. In all honesty, I don’t have a clear answer of how to do this; but we’ll need to use some way of normalizing the idea of gender not being a simple two way street, but rather a wider scope where people can be dotted around, much like race is considered by most now. I see transsexuality as a major breakthrough in changing the gender discussion, and I believe in the next 20 years or so we’re going to see a long of conflict – and resolution – in the way that it’s headed.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.