Status and Schoolyard 101

I’ve been meaning to revisit what I call Schoolyard 101–the principle that sometimes you do have to fight fire with fire–for a while now. Recent discussions and articles I’ve read brought this point to mind and launch this train of thought in my mind.

The discussion that provided this impetus was the idea that much of the polarization, intransigence, and complete screaming illogic we see when people cling to certain insane and contradictory positions is the result of seeking status.

It’s a simple concept, but it makes sense. You see, some people only hold certain opinions because they believe people they perceive as high-status will approve of them.

If you can’t see how this is a problem, I can’t help you.

For those obsessed with playing the status game, having the “correct” opinion provides the intellectual shorthand for actually thinking about said position.

Facts, debates, and civility are useless against folks like this (or you or me, if we also fall into this trap). What to do if you’re attacked by one of them?

Schoolyard 101: You must retaliate in kind.

Continue reading “Status and Schoolyard 101”

Don’t Judge Me!

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Let’s talk about judgment.

It’s a dirty word these days, a dirty idea. To think, someone will dare tell me how I should do this or that, or that something I think is wrong?

Now extrapolate this concept to the idea of God, and people flip out.

But think about this: Society functions only because of judgment. We have laws and rules. We punish offenders who infringe on the law-abidings’ rights as a matter of course. We even have these people in black robes called “judges,” maybe you’ve heard of them?

And yet, the idea of a God that actually judges us is anathema to many. “It’s not fair!” “It’s mean!” and all of that.

I find this so ridiculous it hurts. It seems like the whinings a of an adolescent who doesn’t want to be held responsible for his actions.

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A lot might be a fundamental misunderstanding of how judgment and salvation work. It’s not arbitrary, nor is it reliant on performing just the right actions while saying just the right words.

I think it’s also because the idea of forgiveness is so alien to us Moderns. We don’t even forgive each other—why on Earth would we forgive ourselves, or expect forgiveness from anyone else? Continue reading “Don’t Judge Me!”

We Are All Frauds

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Authenticity is an elusive concept. We all want to be “true to ourselves.” But this first requires that we know who we are.

There’s also an important, overlooked second part, and that is this: authenticity lies in acting in accordance with who we are, or at the very least, how we wish we could be.

In his excellent guest post here, Avtomat Khan of Hidden Dominion discussed the idea of sharing who you are and what you think, regardless of consequences, lest others control you via you putting undue emphasis on what they think of you.

Hmm . . . that sounds familiar. Almost like the title of a book I read recently. And like that book–Ed Latimore‘s Not Caring What Other People Think Is A Superpower–such an internal harmony is the best way to avoid charges of hypocrisy.

And remember: Hypocrisy isn’t bad only because other people will know you’re a fake or a fraud. It’s bad because you will know it too.

Authenticity Graph

I think about this because, as someone who blogs on the Internet, likes to write, and uses social media as a way to communicate, get a few laughs, learn, blow off steam, and even indulge in a little self-promotion, I wonder about the fact that somewhere there may be someone who actually takes what I say seriously.

This is both humbling and frightening. Humbling, because I like to think that I do have some wisdom worth sharing, and frightening, because who the hell am II’m just some dope with a WordPress account.

And worst of all, for my own sense of cognitive well-being, I don’t share everything with all of you. So how can you know if I’m authentic or not? And I don’t act the way I want and just let the chips fall where they may. If I did that, I probably wouldn’t have a wife, or a job, or friends . . .

So am I really true to myself? Continue reading “We Are All Frauds”