Image from here.
This song should inspire some radical self-awesomeness. Yes, I am slightly obsessed with Muse, as their music is amazing, complex and comes with some powerful messages.
“You may have a fresh start at any moment you chose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down but the staying down” —Mary Pickford
I see hero projects everywhere! I just finished the book the Denial of Death a couple of weeks ago (review to come soon) and it blew my mind. Everyone should read that book in high school, but parents would be pissed to find out their kids read it, if they are religious. Don’t let the kids question their religion! That would be terrible. Well, in my opinion, all beliefs should be questioned and held up to rational scrutiny, and sheltering your children from reality only sets them up to feel betrayed later. One can still read that book and have a faith. If one can’t then does one really want to keep that faith? I’m starting to see that the social justice warrior social media frenzy phenomena as just another hero project for our lost people, many of whom are too rational to believe in invisible sky gods to feel like their lives have a meaning, so they need to find some higher purpose that isn’t completely irrational, to feel like they are heroes, part of something important, doing something special to change the world, thus alleviating some of the terror of death, which is the central thesis of Ernest Becker’s amazing tome. The sick thing is, the SJW movement may be helping liberal, mostly educated, upper-middle class white people feel like they are helping the victims of oppression, but in the end, it’s a narrative that is not only scientifically invalid but harmful to the exact people it’s SUPPOSED to be helping. The only people it’s helping are social justice warriors, who get to feel like they are changing the world, as they make everyone into a victim that they can “save.”
America has become a nation of victims. Even white males get to be victims now, with the MRA movement. It’s a sickness, everyone wants to blame someone else for all their problems. But guess what? We all got problems and every life is full of obstacles. If you don’t learn the psychological and practical skills to overcome those obstacles, whatever they may be, you will not lead a successful life no matter what your goals or the obstacles in your way, no matter if you are the victim of racism and/or sexism or have a fairly easy life with mostly smooth sailing. Encouraging folks to have grit and determination in the face of any obstacles is much more helpful than encouraging victim mentality. The concept of micro aggressions, yes, 10^(-6) of an aggression, as a huge problem to fight is harmful to those who are micro-aggressed against, as we all need to develop thick skin in this world and living in a micro aggression free bubble is going to make real life seem quite challenging. If you don’t learn to handle the reality that LIFE IS HARD SOMETIMES and THERE ARE PLENTY OF JERKS IN THE WORLD early, you end up needing to seek therapy when someone calls you a bitch. We don’t want to be a nation of wusses and whiners, we want to be a nation bad asses, and being a bad ass requires that you train through adversity, not whine about every splinter and give up when challenged or questioned.
Dear reader, if you want to help all the victims in this world, focus on giving them a proactive mindset, not training them to see every slight as the man holding them down, but instead, every slight as an opportunity prove themselves capable of working through adversity. That is what can actually be improved for folks who come from disadvantaged backgrounds; “non-cognitive skills” are amenable to learning, whereas, cognitive skills are generally more about the luck of the draw. For details on what I mean by “non-cognitive skills,” as often measured in kids with the “cookie test“, listen to the This American Life episode Back to School. It’s so heartwarming and full of hope. It’s about ways they are helping inner city parents learn how to form attachments to their babies and teaching teens, well, basically, I’d say CBT or Stoicism, at least, it sounded like they were using those basic ideas in the small segment in that episode. Secure attachment and the training discussed are used to develop “non-cognitive skills”, i.e. grit, determination, etc, which usually start with a secure attachment but can be taught. That’s what I think would help give kids a more equal opportunity at success no matter their SES or race or religious status. Have you heard of “Learned Helplessness“? I read a book which discussed it in grad school, when I was falling into that psychological trap due to feeling so powerless to get data when I was trying my hardest. Science is a harsh mistress, as I say, and sometimes I swear it wants to make me go insane. But those experiences helped me understand people more, because before that I hadn’t really ever felt totally overwhelmed by any of the challenges in my life as an adult. Learned helplessness/victim mentality continue to harm the victim more than the original victimization, so, should NOT be encouraged.
In his book, which I reviewed already here, Lee Jussim discusses how bias and self-fulfilling prophecy are actually quite small effects, and get weaker with time, and that stereotypes are typically fairly accurate and applied flexibly and rationally by most people. After learning that, I find this obsession with victim mentality for underprivileged folks promoted by SJWs to be incredibly selfish; it’s harmful to the people it is trying to help. I can’t just sit by and watch my society all become victims in their minds and give up on having a proactive mindset! Even white men want to join the “wo is me” pity party. I would like to empower people to go out and achieve, not tell them they are inevitably going to be held down by racism, Islamophobia, sexism, etc. That’s just not a psychologically helpful thing to do, not to mention the “inaccurate stereotypes lead to bias and self-fulfilling prophecy causing all these social problems” idea is not supported by social science data. Not to also mention that whining is EVEN MORE ANNOYING in adults than it is in kids. And it’s pretty darn annoying in kids.
They want to make STEM ladies like me into victims and I thoroughly reject that notion. I’m sorry twitter-verse, but I’m not a victim and a sexy lady T-shirt isn’t going to stop a “burning with a fire to study nature” scientist from pursuing her passion, and that is what you need to be a good scientist. That was an unrelated social media frenzy incident that really pissed me off. Social media is not a good thing for homo sapiens I think. I’m going to post a blog soon about how it fosters herd mentality and group think that scare me.
I’m a huge fan of Burning Man; I’m working on a book on how to use it a model for the future of society, and I want to add the principle “Radical Self Awesomeness” to the 10 principles of Burning Man. Go out and kick ass in this life, basically. The idea is to change your thinking so that instead of putting yourself down and feeling like a victim, you gain a proactive mindset and make yourself into a cheerleader in your own head. People need that, especially now that we have such a cultural vacuum full of meaninglessness and nihilism where so many people without a religious ideology feel so lost. This cultural vacuum leads to some people being easy targets for culty groups, that use tricks of human psychology to steal away psychological, emotional, financial, and sometimes physical freedom from their followers. I think I got my proactive mindset from my grandma, who was a natural Stoic, but not everyone is that lucky. Another aspect of this principle would also be supporting others in your community in their pursuit of awesomeness. I guess I modeled it a little after Crossfit, where we do somewhat independent workouts that are incredibly challenging, but we support and cheer on one another so that no matter your actual results compared to your peers, you feel good about yourself after completing a workout that is so challenging. If it were easy, you would lose that rewarding post workout feeling. If you got everything you wanted in life without working hard at it, you wouldn’t appreciate it.
Dear citizens of the USA, we should aim to be a nation of bad-asses, not whiners. No matter what is holding you back, if you decide to go for it, and your goal is reasonable and within your potential skillset, no one can hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Results may vary depending on outside circumstances, but all you can do is focus on your circle of influence and do your best to get the outcomes you desire, the rest is up to the randomness and inherent insanity of this world and the people and groups who inhabit it. I have a friend who was literally told she didn’t belong in physics grad school because she is female. Did she let that stop her? NO! That’s the kind of drive you need to achieve great things in science and life. We need to encourage that kind of thinking, determination and motivation. We need to remember that obstacles are GOOD because they test our determination and help us grow. And we need to remember that it’s a terrible idea to send people to school for STEM who are not psychologically prepared to become members of the STEM community, because STEM is REALLY HARD, not just on the intelligence side, but also on the psychologically stressful side. Teaching kids interested in STEM that they are victims of discrimination is the opposite of helpful to kids who want to become scientists or engineers. If you think the oppression you feel in the social world is holding you back, just wait till you’ve spent months trying to get your experiment to work and it’s still not working. NATURE IS OPPRESSIVE!!!!! She doesn’t care if you want to understand her, she wants to hide her secrets.
But the SJWs promotion of victim mentality among those who would benefit most from a proactive mindset does make middle class white people feel like they are changing the world and doing something good (Hero Project), so I guess if you want to be selfish, privileged people, keep doing that. If it makes you feel better about your privilege that you think it’s worth teaching people harmful psychology, then you are actually quite selfish, in my opinion. I wish people would revolt against the movement doing them harm. We should all use a hashtag like #ImNotAVictim. Every time you punch through an obstacle, use that as your hashtag to show that you appreciate the struggles of life for how they teach you lessons and make you grow into a more awesome homo sapien. Without them, you would probably be bored. Character is built through struggle and adversity, not by living in a microagression free bubble.
You can do it, you can live up to your potential, just believe in yourself and do your best to get through obstacles. That’s all any of us can do. Giving up and letting bad circumstances make you into a failure in your own mind are not an option if you want a good life. But they do let you feel like you aren’t responsible for your own problems so it is psychologically appealing when times are tough, but it’s not a good trap to fall into for you or for anyone else. It gives up the only real power you are guaranteed to have in this life, the power you have over YOURSELF and your attitude.
I’ll end with an excellent quote from A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, an amazing book for life skills that I highly recommend to all human beings.
The Stoics believed in social reform, but they also believed in personal transformations. More precisely, they thought the first step in transforming a society into one in which people live a good life is to teach people how to make their happiness depend as little as possible on their external circumstances. The second step in transforming a society is to change people’s external circumstances. The Stoics would add that if we fail to transform ourselves, then no matter how much we transform the society in which we live, we are unlikely to have a good life.