So...what's wrong? No, seriously. What, in the day-to-day, average-experience, mundane-motion, part of your life honestly and genuinely makes you mad? What do you regularly encounter that tangibly affects you? I ask, see, because I've been on this kind-of profane high lately, hammering on about how we should take control of our lives, and live them in the moment, how we should stop blaming others, stop making excuses, and stop letting politicians, pastors, and internet heroes tell us what to think, and it occurred to me this morning that all of these shoulds and stops have a common theme.
Ask 100 people the root of evil, and 99 will say "money". If you've got it, you'll do terrible things to keep it; if you don't have it, you'll do terrible things to get it. Even if you're well-off and secure, or not so but content, the world will find some way to make things stressful, because...that makes other people money. For every concern you have, someone is selling the cure. There's a pill, or a cream, or a car, or a gadget, a lawsuit, a market, or a piece of insurance that can fix whatever is bothering you. And the more things that bother us, the more money there is to be made. Every wrinkle you see, every pound you gain, every neighbour you don't like, every word you find offensive, every act you don't agree with is another dollar in somebody's pocket. The entire economy is, in essence, based on power, insecurity and division. Divide and conquer.
Look in any direction; look at any facet of society, and you will see it: the media tells us we aren't thin enough, that we're too old or too young, that we don't have enough of this or that. They make clear the lines between what is good and what is not good. We give them that power, we give them our money, we strive to become what is good, and we begin to look down upon those that are not good. The government tells us what is fair and what is unfair, what is safe and what is scary, what we should be okay with, and what we absolutely should not be. They make clear the lines between what is good and what is not good. We give them that power, we pay them our taxes, we cling tightly to what is good, and yell angrily about what is not good. There are churches, clubs, organizations, and institutions of every possible flavour, all drawing more and more lines between what is good and what is not good, and all of them - every single one - benefits from our division. They benefit by virtue of "us" and "them". The more insecure we feel about ourselves, the more we pass those same judgements onto others, the more firm we become in our belief of what is good and what is not good, the more someone out there benefits.
And this takes me back to my question to you: what, really, is your problem? What actually has a negative impact on your life? When you step back for a second and think about it for yourself, does it really bother you that two men, somewhere out there in the world, love one another? Do you really feel burdened that a family from Pakistan is moving here next week? Does it really affect your life if the girl down the hall is overweight? Think about this carefully before you answer; think really hard about the things that truly impact you on a day to day basis. Think about the struggles you have and where they actually come from. If you can look objectively at your existence and say yes, these things really do affect me, these divisions are legitimate, and my concerns are valid, well, okay. I bid you adieu, fair soldier, the rest of this post isn't for you. I'm sure I will meet you on the battlefield with another profane rant somewhere down the line. But I'm betting most of you, if you're honest with yourselves, will say no. I'm betting that, for most of you, the real struggles in your life, the real unfairness, the real anger, lies in not always being able to make ends meet. In feeling insignificant. In balancing work and kids and love and time to yourself. I'm betting most of you are angry about a car that won't start, a boss that takes advantage of you, people that push ahead of you in line. I'm betting that not a single one of our problems would be solved if everyone magically woke up a size 6, or white, or straight, or pro-choice, or a liberal. These divisions that have been created between us (and they have been created) are false. They are a diversion. They are an effective way to control us. Divide, and conquer.
And if that's really what it is, if we are working day in and day out to afford the cost of being "us", and not "them", if we are paying other people to create our problems for us, only to turn around and pay them again to solve them, well...we should maybe change that, don't you think? If the walls we have built between ourselves are actually locking us in, rather than keeping them out, couldn't we make better use of that space? So I ask you, on this fine Sunday evening, to please ask yourself: what's wrong?
I'm a raging pessimist. A raging pessimist kept in check by also being a head in the clouds, peace-lovin' hippy. Don't think that makes sense? I ask of you, then, to read some Camus and get back to me. Pessimism is not, as it's commonly defined, the philosophy that everything is shit; pessimists, in fact, are often the most optimistic of beings. This may seem contradictory, but I assure you, it's not. While many would love to pit optimism and pessimism against one another as mortal enemies, the fact is, we are far more friendly than the outside world wishes to give us credit for. Pessimism is not a negative view of the world. Rather, it is an existential answer to realism. Pessimists see the world for what it is, and realize that, ultimately, life itself has no objective meaning - it is up to us, as individuals, to create our meaning. And, for many of us, this is a positive. Knowing that this limited, time-restrained life is all we get, and that we are here only via chance, chaotic order, and luck, makes it of the utmost importance to appreciate, and live out to the fullest, our existence. We are, in short, the universe experiencing itself. This is about as far from the mundane and negative as one can get. This, my friends, should be the most positive thing you ever hear: the pessimist's view is that...this is it. This is your opportunity to BE the living universe. How much fucking cooler would you like life to get?!
Of course, though, positivity has to come at a cost. For you to live your life to its fullest, you must first accept a couple of things: first, you are going to die. Believe in an afterlife if that's your gig, but at least come to terms with the fact that the life you are leading right here and right now is going to end. Second, you are the one holding you back. Fuck your parents, your exes, and your shitty friends. Fuck your school and your job. Those are the things you are allowing to hold you back, but they are not to blame. You are. Once you reach an age in which your mom is no longer feeding you from her teet, once you have learned to read and write and multiply and divide...your life is your own responsibility. You can go on and blame others for your failures, but you're only lying to yourself and making excuses as to why you can't do this or that. Basically, if you are over 16, fuck you. You have every opportunity awaiting you, and if you don't take them, fuck you. It is the pessimist's view that your life is yours to define, yours to live, and yours to succeed in, or screw up, as you see fit. It is the pessimist's philosophy that you own yourself, that you own your life, and that the only person there is to blame when it all goes to shit is...you. Sure, you can blame your government, you can blame your parents, you can blame the shitty town you were born in...but if you've not made any move, if you've not made any attempt to change the things that are holding you back, you have no one to blame but yourself. Who, exactly, do you want to be in charge of your existence? Do you want your parents to rule you forever? Do you want the school system to make your decisions for you? Do you want your boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, to dictate how you should live your life? No? Then stand the fuck up and move forward. Move in your own direction. This is the pessimist's view: it is not one of negativity and nothingness; it is not apathy and anarchy; it is a firm decision, an accepted philosophy, that all of your life's decisions are yours to make. You define your life. You make it what it is. Blaming others is an act of apathy and cowardice. If things aren't as you wish them to be, do something about it! And, if you screw it all up, as we all have (often several times), have a drink, load up your iPod, smoke a joint, and start again.
This life is yours. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, and don't live it any other way.
Am I supposed to know, or care, who Thunderf00t, PZ Myers, or Rebecca Watson are? Should I honestly give a flying fuck about YouTube heroes, armchair (or...more than likely, computer chair) pundits, or internet feminists? Is there some reason I'm expected to have a serious opinion about these people?
I've been asked whose "side" I am on regarding these folks and issues several times as of late, so I suppose maybe people do care about the opinions of other random people on the internet. But, lemme let you in on a little secret. I don't actually expect anyone to give a shit what I have to say on my blog. It's my blog. It's a place where I get to rant about whatever the hell I feel like ranting about. If you agree with me, cool. If you don't, just as cool. I'm a little taken aback by this weird, celebrity devotion to anyone with a web-cam and a strong opinion. I can't imagine any of you, dear readers, becoming my "following", and, honestly, I'd be fucking creeped out if you did. My whole point here, if I have one at all, is to encourage you to think for yourselves. It is not, I repeat, not, to have you agree with me. I'm just as happy when someone comments with a "go fuck yourself" as I am when someone "likes" my post on facebook. I don't want people to agree with me, I want people to think.
But...I digress. I did have an actual point to make with this post, but the wine has gotten in the way. Ahem...
Internet atheism doesn't mean a fuck to me. Nor does internet feminism. And, particularly, neither does internet anti-feminism. Oh, you have a YouTube post about how Slutwalk is a stupid idea? OMGWHOCARES? Certainly not I. You think you're clever because you made a vlog about how Christians are idiots? You're not. You believe asserting that all sex is rape on your bought and paid for WordPress site has earned you some feminist crown? It hasn't. And you, you, dude that figured pulling your dick out at a feminist rally while your cell-phone camera recorded the whole ordeal was a witty answer to the issue? You are a huge asshole.
I have respect for dissent. I have respect for thoughtful, meaningful debate. I have great respect for people that, honestly, and with profound sincerity, have formed an opinion to present to the public at large. I have no respect for fucking wankers that think being contrary for the sake of it is a great intellectual achievement. Every 2 year old knows how to say "nuh-uh"; if your hope is to seem more clever than a toddler, I highly suggest taking a little more care in presenting your opinion. Being the internet's "Angry Atheist" doesn't impress me, dude. I get it. You think religious people are stupid. Good for you. Go read some Carl Jung and get back to me. You think all men are potential rapists? Cool; get acquainted with William Blake and then we'll talk. Oh, you're an anti-feminist, you say? Right on, I'd love to hear your criticisms of Margaret Atwood and Virginia Woolf. But I'm willing to bet my pittance of an income that you've not bothered researching these people. I'm willing to bet every penny in my pocket that you neither know, nor care, about the movements these people have inspired and contributed to, and I'd bet my life savings that you don't give a shit. Your opinions are based, solely, on your 20 or 30-something year old perspective of life as it is now, within your own, narrow, and highly biased, view of life today. You can take whatever view of atheism/theism, or feminism/anti-feminism that you prefer, but don't expect me to give a shit unless you have a substantial argument to back it up with. Your basement produced YouTube video means absolutely nothing to me, nor does your broad sweeping generalisations about everyone with a penis being evil.
Short story long: unless you have something substantial to place on my table, get the fuck out of my kitchen. Being contrary for the sake of it, thinking you're really fucking clever for calling belief in God stupid, thinking you are the Queen of the Feminists for managing to squeeze rape into every conversation, or thinking that pulling your dick out at inappropriate moments makes you an intellectual superstar is pretty well guaranteed to make me hate you. Protest is cool, dissent is cool, demanding change is cool. Being a dick for the sake of it, and proudly whipping out your broad brush of bigotry just encourages me to shuffle you into the same bin as those you despise.
Try this on for size, if you will. Think for yourself. Read a fucking book. Shut your mouth, and your web-cam, until you have the slightest clue what you're bitching about. Realize that things aren't generally painted in black and white. Shut the fuck up for a minute and think.
Wherein I say
whatever I want.