I have no problem accepting the statistical inevitability that some people in what I’m loosely calling “the oppressed communities” or “the protest communities” are coming from a place of resentment and bruised egos over-asserting themselves. When they “speak truth to power” surely SOME of their motivations are ego-driven attempts to feel better about themselves, to feel powerful, to feel like a leader, an inspiration, someone who is “making a difference”. Indeed, how could it be otherwise? Is this not simply “human nature”? Do power-needs, the “Will to Power,” not form a key pillar of the entire structure of the human personality? Jordan’s own lobster-theorizing makes this abundantly clear.
Therefore, the people who are exhibiting the most courage, getting the farthest outside of their comfort zone, taking the most personal risks, working the most ardently for the causes they believe in, are OF COURSE going to be getting some ego-stroking out of the deal. After all, it’s pretty hard to sustain motivations over the long-term unless there are some positive kick-backs to the self.
And as mentioned in the last post, under “Statistics 101,” it is inevitable in a statistical sense, that with lots and lots of flawed humans making up the “SJW-community”, SOME of them are going to “go too far” sometimes, become militant or extremist, exhibit their own intolerance, anger, etc., even get violent! Just like in the dating/sex world, the Players know that “it’s a numbers game.” You try enough times, you’ll eventually hit on the right person in the right circumstances to fall prey to your charms.
I’m sure anyone in the public eye thinks about the numbers game quite a bit. I taught a popular course for a few years and had about 25,000 or so students in those years. I did think about the baseliine probability that some person I interacted with would be in a particular set of circumstances to react negatively. When the numbers are big enough, the probability becomes practically inevitable. So I ended up with one person sending me death threats and weird-ass emails. And one student assaulted another student outside the classroom. And I reported them to the police. So, two people (that I know of) lost their shit, out of 25,000. Yep. It’s gonna happen.
Imagine actual celebrities! Like, if a person has a million fans, and there’s even a 1 in 1000 chance that someone is going to totally hate you and think you’re scum, then…..well, you’re going to have a lot of haters. And, what percentage of your haters are “unhinged,” delusional or in some other way potentially dangerous? That percentage is not Zero. So, with enough exposure to enough people, those in the public eye are going to receive all kinds of weird shit from people — death threats, stalkers, someone showing up with a garrote to their talk.
Steven Universe is one of the most beautiful, heart-warming, “believe in the good” shows that has ever been created. It’s lovely. And yet, the Steven Universe online ‘fandom’ has resulted in some really nasty shit. There are whacked people out there, folks. It’s a numbers game.
Of course, it might be important to figure out if, say, certain groups have a disturbingly high proportion of psychopathic or otherwise violent tendencies.
For example, who should we be more concerned about:
immigrants & refugees,
or My Little Bronies?
Based on the statistics I’ve seen of societal dysfunction, violence, prejudice, personality problems, the formation of stable and generally well-functioning communities, etc. — If I could give the reins of power to anyone (and they were willing to take them), it’d be some combination of Scandinavians, immigrants, atheists, and indigenous women. No offence to the other groups, but dudes, your stats aren’t as good. So let’s let the peace-lovers and wisdom-seekers, the poor and disenfranchised, ‘rule the world’ for, say, one generation of humanity, and see if we’re better off, or worse. I have every bit of faith that they’ll do no worse, at worst, than the men, most of whom are very wealthy men to boot, who’ve had the reins for MOST of the past….uh….forever?
This IS NOT to say that Republicans, men, etc. are BAD. NO! It’s that THE HIERARCHIES that Jordan loves so much, are NOT selecting for “the good.” They’re just selecting for those who like power. And the result is all the terrible shit that Jordan says he wants to prevent so badly. This is a linchpin part of Jordan’s arguments, and he returns to it over and over in his interviews — the claim that he’s not arguing for power-based dominance hierarchies, but for competence-based hierarchies. That is, after all, the reason for choosing lobsters, the serotonin system, etc.. It’s because, speaking in an evolutionary biology sense, dominance hierarchies are organized around competence, not power. But….in human societies, particularly nowadays and a few generations, at least, this relationship does not hold. Competence-based dominance hierarchies have been significantly (not wholly) supplanted by Power-based dominance hierarchies (a point we’ll return to in Part 6: The Myth of “The Myth of White/male Privilege.”)
The Problem with Focusing on Outliers in the First Place
But far more important than worrying about small differences in the probabilities of psychopathic craziness in different groups, is to realize that these are EXTREMES that we’re focusing on. By focusing on them, we make them seem more real, more common, than they actually are. We paint the entire group with the same brush, and so, we propagate a narrative whereby it’s easy for people to start believing, say, “Muslims are violent people, who want to bring Sharia-law or some shit into our province.” “Immigrants are threatening to the social order. They come in and want special treatment, and steal our jobs!” “SJWs are violent harpies and terrible tarantulas, who are too poorly-ordered themselves to clean their rooms and just want to burn it all down out of spite!” — “Look at THIS video on Facebook…and THIS one….and THIS one! See?? THEY are crazy!!”
By focusing on extreme cases, we make ourselves highly vulnerable to those-with-power who want to get a certain message across to the rest of us — governments who want to justify what they are doing, like having wars, and developing lands of indigenous people, and giving tax breaks and get-out-of-jail-free cards to Big Industry. By focusing on extreme cases, we can paint whatever picture of “the other” that we want. And given that far more of us, far more of the time, simply absorb the information that’s around us, rather than carefully attending to and effortfully challenging and dissecting the manipulative tactics that are being used against us, the end result is that we are extremely, extremely vulnerable to manipulation. This is then, ironically, compounded by the echo-chamber that the internet has largely become, in which algorithms and the crack-cocaine reinforcement of “Likes” and “hearts” and “views” (oh my!) make it ever-easier for us to drink the elixir of the ego.
We get lulled into our hatred, far too easily. Because it FEELS GOOD to hate the “other”.
Imagine a rival hockey team, and one of their players flips out for some reason and murders somebody in your town. How do you respond? Do you hate that entire team? Do you hate that entire city? Or do you realize that those people are suffering as much as you are? One of their own, for some reason, committed a terrible, terrible thing and has ruined all their lives. Their hearts have been broken, and they feel TERRIBLE for what has happened to you and your loved ones. Would you see this?
And what if that person was a member of a different religion from yours? What if they wore a long beard, or a hijab, or a turban, or a cross? What if they spoke some other language than you?
It’s an amazing thing to pause and deeply reflect on the power we have to CHOOSE here. As we move forward in life, we will encounter exactly this choice. Over and over and over again. Indeed, the way that we all make these choices may well determine the fate of our entire species.
So, what will your choice be? To use something terrible as a reason to widen the gap between Us and Them into a chasm? Or to use something terrible as a way of softening your heart and compelling you to reach out across that gap to the Other? Can you build a bridge instead of digging a trench?
This IS what happens when you “sort yourself out” more holistically, not merely in order to become more competently productive (as important as that is). Even more compassion follows. Tolerance. Faith in our better nature.