2021: Q3W3

An Oddly Positive Week

Lately I’ve been trying to go with the flow. Throughout my life the cycle of one good week & then three bad weeks has persisted. Instead of ceaselessly beating myself up, I’m trying to accept the bad weeks and tune the world out during that time. Due to my A-type personality, this is far easier said than done. If I haven’t done more than the minimum in a given day, I feel awful the next day not just emotionally but physically ill as well.

So it shouldn’t be “odd” that I’ve had a positive week; what’s odd is that it has thus far continued into this week. The week of the 12th saw me finish all of my schoolwork on the first day of the week so I didn’t have to worry about it at all for the rest of the week. Reading (or rather listening) to a lot of personal development books lately has also helped to improve my mood by reminding me my life really isn’t bad.

Still, There Are Some Gaps

Despite consistently scheduling gym time in my planner for the past month, I’ve only gone once. Even when I did go, I really wasn’t feeling it and only ran a mile and left. I’m so fatigued this year that the thought of lifting any weight whatsoever puts me to sleep. It’s probably nutrition; I don’t eat much even with the lower dose of Adderall XR. I’ve been put on Folic Acid and Vitamin D but I’m skeptical that vitamin supplements do anything more than make your pee brighter.

My extracurricular studies haven’t been ideal either. I have a plan for studying a list of skills I noted on job requirements in my future field but I haven’t done a whole lot of work besides that. I have an exam prep book for the CCISO (Certified Chief Information Security Officer) but was somewhat put off after I learned that you can’t even take the test without 5 years of experience in the IS field. I’d have to take a course through EC-Council for which the website is broken so I don’t even know how much it costs. Instead, I’ll likely take the Security+ exam which isn’t as impressive on a resume but still counts.

Dating

What would a life update be without talking about my romantic life?! It’s a mix this week. I’ve met a woman who is a single mother but is actually quite attractive; a rarity in Michigan. I’ve also been ghosted by a woman I’ve known for 10 years who was recently telling me how much she was in love with me and also happened to live in the state I was planning on moving to for work after I graduate. Add another log on the abandonment issues trauma-fire, I guess.

I don’t care when someone I’m talking to on a dating app ghosts me; those women are a dime a dozen. It hurts quite a lot when it’s someone you’ve known for years and who knows you better than almost anybody. It’s like they’ve found some personal flaw in you that is so detestable they can’t even put up with even a platonic friendship. In reality, though, it’s because she’s become an alcoholic and is a mental and emotional mess; not someone I’d want to marry for sure. Still, didn’t feel great. She’ll be back… drunks always are… and it’ll feel good to tell her how little she means to me now.

I was supposed to have a first date with Christina, the woman I mentioned in my first paragraph, this weekend but we met up at a park last-minute a couple days ago because we both get off work at the same time and live somewhat nearby. It’s pretty difficult to date a woman who has children as she has virtually no free time. We’re still having a “real” date Saturday (as far as I know but I never have faith in plans with women these days after everything I’ve been through lol).

2021: Q3W2

Do It Anyway

Perfectionism has been a problem of mine my whole life, due to the many times I was taught that if something isn’t done perfectly, my parents won’t love me. I’ve since gotten past the logical part of that belief but the habit is still there. Easily gained confusion and overthinking everything also contribute to my inability to build routines around the hobbies I’m interested in or my schoolwork. I’m trying to force myself into a habit in which even though I feel like what I’m doing “sucks” and I’ll never be “good at it”, I should still do it anyway. I’ve also noticed that regardless of how confused I feel or if I think I don’t understand how to do something in school, I pretty much always get an A and should just trust my gut. Because of my upbringing, again, trusting my gut doesn’t come easily.

My main project since I quit drinking 4 years ago has been to overcome these beliefs and feelings about my abilities. Taking an IQ test with my psychologist recently at his behest was a huge boost to my self-esteem as I discovered I’m really not stupid despite still feeling like I am. I’d actually taken an IQ test in my teen years and did abysmally so either the claim that IQ can’t be greatly improved is false or I didn’t care enough back then to put in any effort… probably the latter, as I also barely graduated high school and am now a 4.0 student.

Self Authoring

I purchased Jordan Peterson’s self authoring program during a New Year sale where it was so cheap it almost seemed stupid not to. Even if it ended up not doing anything for me, it was a forgettable amount of money. I’m happy to say it has done things for me so far. I’ve been working on it consistently lately and although it’s just a collection of writing prompts with some minimal guidance, I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself. Finding out “who I am” has been a main focus for 2021 and I’d made very little progress until I started doing things like journaling.

WordPress, and perhaps my older posts in particular, may come across as a journal because of my stream-of-consciousness writing style, but they’re the furthest thing from a journal. Everything I publish on here is still greatly censored because I’m not at a point yet where I can share anything about myself with another person. That causes me no end of anguish on a daily basis but, to be honest, I don’t even know how normal, healthy people share their feelings. I either bottle everything up or I go way overboard and ruin friendships. I really can’t think of a single person from my past who was a good role model for how to behave toward other people.

So, in middle age I’ve decided to finally stop looking for a role model and start looking within. What do I believe? What do I feel? How do I react to things? I used to think I knew these things but I can tell you with certainty now (one of the only things about myself I can say with certainty) that I have no clue what those answers are. There are so many layers of dark, sad, and pitiful feelings piled on top of each other that while I’m doing this project I’m uncovering emotions I barely knew existed. I’ve forced myself to be dead for so long that peeling away a layer of this sadness-onion reveals a desire to almost scream in agony at every aspect of my life and the world I live in (not necessarily the same place as the world you live in).

Mindjournal

Apart from Self Authoring, I also purchased the Mindjournal which is probably just a shill-y amalgamation of vaguely related psychological tropes, but it’s helped me in progressing with the other things I’m doing. I think it helps that it’s a paper journal; I’ve always found writing things with my hands made them more real and I could get more truth out of it than mindlessly typing in front of a glowing screen.

Cat Sitting

I hate cats, generally. I think they’re rodents that’ve convinced women they’re cute so men put up with them. I’m watching my hoarder-aunt’s cat this week while they’re out of town and it’s driving me crazy. It yowls all day and night because it’s terrified that it’s in a room that isn’t filled with boxes and bags of 20 year old newspapers, and it vomits constantly. If I don’t find this vomit quickly enough, it permanently becomes a color swatch on the carpet.

And with that, this post ends because I can hear him puking as I’m typing this very sentence.

Nice Guys, Incels, and Toxic Shame

As a proto-Incel1 and recovering Nice Guy2, I’ve always been fascinated with the syndrome. As with my views on most mental health topics, I vacillate between pity and scorn for Nice Guys. Mentally unhealthy individuals are difficult to have compassion for (for me, anyway) because they’re often so unwilling to take sound advice or do the work necessary to improve themselves. I, too, knew what I needed to do in my 20s to be more successful with women, my career, and life in general… but that was hard.

Incel vs. Nice Guy

Incels and Nice Guys share nearly identical traits but they differ in extremity; Incels are to Nice Guys as suicide bombers are to Islam (and they’d certainly love all the virgins!). Both suffer from toxic shame, a syndrome shaped through abandonment issues, absent parents, low self-image, and other similar issues developed from childhood. In this way, it’s easy to feel pity for them as it is with anyone suffering from mental disease. Nearly any antisocial personality defect or crime can be traced back to childhood trauma… but there’s a reason we don’t pat offending pedophiles3 on the back and say “there, there… it’s not your fault”. At some point, you have to be a big boy and take responsibility for your agency.

Whereas Nice Guys show an extraordinary amount of unwanted affection and worship toward their chosen women, it’s a learned habit and there’s usually no malice attached to it. In the case of an Incel, he’ll put women on a pedestal in the same way but make dark judgments of them in his mind all the while. This type of man has likely been present since at least the 70s but the Internet has made it more apparent as our dark thoughts no longer stay thoughts.

“Science” Doesn’t Help Much

If you search for scholarly articles on these behaviors, your results will nearly unanimously be about rape culture, patriarchy, and the avocation of all men for abusing women (see references). These articles will be, again nearly unanimously, written by women whom I’d classify as pretty far left. Because if you want to understand men, the best people to turn to are angry ideological women (sarcasm should be obvious here)4. Unfortunately, such is the state of the modern university so the male voices on the issue come from people like myself and a few relatively unread male doctors.

Somehow it’s always obvious to me when an academic paper is political. There are few sources cited and I can almost hear the authors teeth grinding as they think of the best way to disguise their clever insults. Men don’t seem to write these papers as often (which could be because men don’t pursue masters degrees in Humanities) so any mention of “patriarchy” is usually a red flag that you’re about to read a heaping pile of bullshit5.

Reading between the lines of these (mostly) theses, one can see that their only aim is to attack men. One such document written by one of the lone men in the “field” lists the aims of the thesis to be:

  1. To explore and describe the Incel subculture by examining the discourse, memes and
    other cultural material specifically forged and (re)produced through Incel forums and
    networks
  2. To gain insights and critically examine Incels’ conceptualisation(sic) and negotiation with
    hegemonic masculine norms.
  3. To understand how online technologies and cultures are weaponised(sic) through
    technosocial(sic) networks.
    (Lindsay, 2020).

Basically, the aim is to get Angus Charles Lindsay some feminist pussy because “understanding” and “insights” are about as useful to a thesis as farting into a jar to preserve its freshness. I’ve seen a photo of him. He doesn’t need to go after feminist pussy; he could probably get sane pussy if he wanted to. He is likely a Nice Guy.

It’s tragically comedic that the unrelenting assault on masculinity in American popular culture is helping to create the exact types of men that these authors claim are so evil.

Finding the Answers Elsewhere

The book “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Dr. Robert Glover is the best place to start understanding this issue (particularly if you think you might suffer from it). Women may have a difficult time reading it at times because it is highly critical of the effect Women’s Liberation has had on society (as am I so I guess if you can read me you can read him). Glover lays out the causes of toxic shame far better than I could even having finished the book twice.

Like most issues of adult mental health, it’s all your parents fault. I say that somewhat sarcastically but at the same time it’s undoubtedly true; we must be careful to not replace our pathological servitude toward our mothers with bitter resentment.

A brief rundown of things I’ve said about life in America post 1950 gives sufficient context to how we’ve gotten here. The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality really did men in and caused many to become workaholics, and often alcoholics as well, distancing themselves emotionally from their children. Women entering the workforce in droves meant that children were often left with an unconcerned babysitter (or a revolving door of bad babysitters, as was my case) meaning kids felt abandoned almost from day 1.

Those kids grew into adults, their heads full of version 1.0 of toxic shame and then compounded it upon their children. They often married men or women who were just as broken as they were, giving the next generations (Gen X and the Millennials) an unstable home life. Mothers were spiteful and bitter toward the weak men they chose to have children with and took this out on their children while simultaneously treating their female children as best friends and male children as surrogate husbands which definitely isn’t healthy in either case.

Because these children grew to be so dependent on attention from their mothers, which was always conditional upon the children doing something for her, they were her sounding board for all of her grievances against her husband (and vice versa in many cases). Thus, both male and female children grew to develop a deep resentment for their fathers and by proxy all men. For women this likely created the toxic feminism we see today and in men it created the Nice Guy, which I am much better equipped to talk about than feminism.

Nice Guys see themselves as “different” from normal men. Normal men are sexist, rude, abusive, loud, controlling, dirty, etc. They are not like those men. They do their best to never make a woman angry, telling her everything they think she wants to hear and pursuing her romantically through covert contracts she’s completely unaware of.

“If I agree that her boyfriend is cruel, despite never having met him, she’ll leave him for me” and similar totally sane ideas.

An even sicker component of this is that Nice Guys are the exact type of man most women say they want which is of course something that will wreak havoc on the Nice Guy’s mind.

If I am exactly the things she says she wants, why doesn’t she want to be with me?

Because people don’t know what they want, dipshit.

What Can You Do?

If you’re a woman reading this, which is likely given the demographic of my readers, all you can really do is to stop spreading bullshit about male culture (which would actually be a huge accomplishment). I wouldn’t propose that women start pitying Incels and start marrying them en masse; they are as stupid and broken as people say they are and nobody deserves to be in a relationship with someone like that6.

For men who aren’t suffering from this, interacting positively with Nice Guys is one of the most beneficial things you can do. Nice Guys believe they are “different” from normal men despite being exactly the same and simply hiding their true feelings and desires out of fear. They often have very few or no healthy male friendships. I speak from experience, again. It wasn’t until I opened my mind and heart to the idea of befriending those icky mean tough guys who used to bully me that I truly started to change for the better.

Nice Guys themselves need to do a lot of work. I’ve come to believe over the years of studying addiction that all mental health issues which stem from diseased lifestyles have to be corrected the same way. First, you need therapy. It’s nearly impossible to make consistent positive change without a trained, objective counselor. Next you have to start setting up boundaries as Nice Guys often have no less than zero boundaries with other people. Get away from your shitty mother, disconnect from your equally damaged siblings in an ethical manner (you don’t have to stop speaking to your family for the rest of your life… but sometimes you do), replace your friends or get some if you don’t have any, and stop chasing unavailable women. There’s a lot on your plate.

Notes

1 The term “incel” didn’t yet exist back in 2003-2005 when I had the “women only like jerks” mindset, but I certainly remember using the term “involuntarily celibate” to refer to myself, jokingly, to friends. At some point this comedic piss-take of oneself became a very serious but even more laughable movement.

2 I capitalize Nice Guy to indicate I’m not talking about men who are kind but rather a pathological archetype.

3 I’m not suggesting that pedophiles and Incels are equivalent. Interestingly, however, Incels do pursue relationships with young girls far more frequently than average men. I have no idea what the reason of this is. I’ve hypothesized that it could have something either to do with young girls being too naive to catch the Incel’s games or that in their infantile mindset Incels truly do relate to adolescents better than adult women.

Either way it’s gross.

4 It’s important to state, and men who write about this topic never do, that the women writing these ill-minded commentaries on masculinity are just as mentally diseased as Nice Guys and Incels. It’s simply the adult manifestation of whatever happened to them as children. In that, we also must have compassion toward them despite having to wipe their spit from our eyes every time we attempt to converse. I’m not the person to write about women’s childhood trauma though so I’m being somewhat frugal with my compassion here.

5 I used to be open to the patriarchy idea in the past (my faux-Liberal days) but I’ve seen the theory dismantled so many different ways in so many different contexts there’s not even a skeleton left to acknowledge.

6 Maybe not “nobody”. I think a season of The Bachelorette and The Bachelor in which militant legbeard feminists pair off with Incels and Men’s Rights Activists would be extremely good television.

References

It’s purely by chance that tons of people who write on the subject happen to have surnames beginning with “L”. Dworkin was included as a joke, please don’t read anything by her. If you do I can’t be held responsible for the damage to your psyche. Labbaf actually writes a thoughtful and seemingly fair description of the Incel community but I couldn’t figure out where to include it above; Canadians are generally a thoughtful people, I recommend it.

Dworkin, A. Literally anything written or said by her is trash.

Glover, R. (2003). No More Mister Nice Guy. Running Press.

Labbaf, F. (2020). United by rage, self-loathing, and male supremacy: The rise of the incel community. University of Alberta. https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/invoke/index.php/invoke/article/download/48979/40992/77782

Laskovtsov, A. (2020). Navigating the manosphere: An examination of the incel movements’ attitudes of sexual aggression and violence against women. Eastern Kentucky University.
https://encompass.eku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1660&context=etd

Lindsay, A. (2020). Swallowing the black pill: A qualitative exploration of incel antifeminism within digital society. Victoria University of Wellington. https://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10063/8915/thesis_access.pdf?sequence=1

Stuff I Used to Believe Was True Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt but Now Doubt at Least a Little.

Critical thinking. It’s one of those buzz-terms my fellow Americans and I love to toss around… particularly Liberal Americans, one of whom I used to be. Any time someone disagrees with all of those facts you just know, it’s because they can’t do critical-thought (ha). It wasn’t until I started going to college in earnest and took several logic and ethics courses that I understood what critical thought really is, and it’s quite different from the groupthink that people think it is. That’s actually a nice segue into my first Great Doubt:

Critical Thinking Isn’t That Hard

Picture my embarrassment when I learned that I was also quite a shytty thinker. Even today I struggle to curb my impulsive first impressions and think “wait, a human wrote this, so it’s probably at least mostly wrong”. First, you have to notice when you’re disagreeing with someone. That’s really hard for most of us to do, especially those of us who are older and our habits of recoiling in fury at an alien idea are etched into the cliffs of our minds through decades of erosion. Then you have to know what you’re disagreeing with and why. Is it emotional(useless)? Do you know something to the contrary(more useful but what you think you know is probably wrong)? Finally, armed with this information, you have to argue against your own case. If you can easily dismantle your own beliefs, you’re probably full of shit. If you can do so for both sides of the argument, the whole thing is constructed out of tinder and you have to find some outside information to shore up the structure.

2018 is when I’d say I earnestly tried to start cultivating this new skill and it isn’t until quite recently that I’ve been able to notice the times I’ve been wrong and admit it to myself. Many of us notice when we’re wrong but we skip the self-admission. I can’t blame us; we don’t just believe that we’ll be ridiculed and insulted when we’re wrong, it’s actually true most of the time. Having the wrong opinion about something on which you are neither an expert nor have you thought very long about not only makes you a complete imbecile, it also makes you evil and the reason the country is falling apart1. On the absolute miracle that you manage to get past that, you now have to research and form opinions and arguments. Nobody has time to do that with the mountain of deceptive bullshit we have to climb every time we get out of bed. I’ve found it’s safer, in those instances where I don’t have the time or interest, to assume the person doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. Nothing bad has ever happened to me because of this.

Knowledge is Very Important
(And Even Possible to Obtain)

Going into detail on the philosophical history of what it means to know something is beyond what I’m willing to write here, but it shall suffice to say knowledge is something you gain through the experience of something’s truth. You can’t get it by reading a book or listening to somebody speak. You can gain insight that way, which can help you form an opinion, but you can’t truly know the subject. To take an oft-criticized group of people (and I’ll be the first to tell you they are ridiculous and shouldn’t be given any credence), one of the claims the Flat Earth Society makes is that you can’t trust scientific books that say the Earth is spherical, because you don’t know the things in those books are true. It might shock you that I agree here (more likely you don’t care). You shouldn’t implicitly trust anything just because other people say you should. Unfortunately they believe the Earth is flat because it was written in another book that they trust implicitly because it’s the word of God. How do they know? Well the book says so, stupid2!

What makes science different from anything else ever devised by man is that anyone else should be able to reproduce the experiments therein and get the same results. This has worked for most of post-Enlightenment history but now we’re at a point where everything is so complex that one person really can’t learn everything and run every experiment, even if they dedicate their entire lives to this pursuit. So, most of us trust science because the stuff based on it more or less works as expected. One definitely shouldn’t just trust some new theory written about in some news blog just because a scientist wrote a paper on it, though. More on that never.

Conservatives are Not only Racists, but Stupid Racists

It should be self-evident: if this is a serious thought in your mind, you’re not thinking very critically. Generalizing whole groups of people is precisely what proponents of this idea claim Conservatives are doing despite likely never meeting a genuine Conservative in their lives. If you meet even one Conservative who isn’t a racist or stupid, the whole idea doesn’t work. I’ve met quite a few, sadly. The mirror transformation to this argument is that Liberals are all hyper-educated and open minded which, again, can’t be true if even one of them aren’t. I’ve met quite a few as well.

So what is more true, then? There’s certainly a segment of the population comprised of value-less people, intellectually speaking. Sides of the political spectrum don’t have any relevance here, because these people don’t have any beliefs. They download the daily talking points from CNN, Fox, etc. and delete them the next day when the new batch is available. If you look at the trends of these people’s bickering over a long period of time, you very quickly learn that nothing they ever care about matters in the least. All of the civilization-ending doomsday scenarios that gripped this chaff over the decades has amounted to nothing, and all of the truly horrible catastrophes that have occurred went completely unnoticed until it was too difficult to ignore them.

Long story short, real Liberals and Conservatives are intelligent, great people. You probably don’t personally know any, though.

America is Systemically Racist

Yes, I was one of those people. At some point in the 2000’s, racism was redefined to mean when one race has power over another through institutions. This isn’t what it meant when I was growing up though and I now reject this interpretation, not because it’s wrong (although I think it is) but because it’s clearly ideological. Interestingly, the books and people who changed my mind on this were the very people pushing it so hard. The more liberty they gained through the social climate giving them room to ramble, the crazier they sounded to me. Finally, I was banished from the group of heckling Liberals I’d been a part of for daring to say that looting is a crime. That opened my eyes wide to how this thought trend is… I suppose I can’t say crazy because it follows a pretty simple recipe. As I wrote in the past, Americans at large have lost the ability to think critically.

For some reason we accept that reading the introduction to a book and accepting it as fact is the same thing as thinking about it. I was looking for a Thomas Sowell quote about how the best thing he learned at Harvard is that he shouldn’t listen to people with degrees from Harvard, but I can’t find it and am probably butchering it. I found another along the same lines:

“What I most disliked about Harvard was that smug assumptions were too often treated as substitutes for evidence or logic. The idea seemed to be that if we bright and good fellows all believed something, it must be true.” (Sowell, 2014)

This is as good a description of the Far Left and Far Right of 2021 that I’ve found. I’ve struggled to put into words how annoyed I always was at my “smart” friends who recycled other people’s brain worms in place of thoughts3. Make no mistake, I’m a firm believer that none of us has ever had or will ever have an original idea, but that’s not the important bit. The important bit is coming to understand an idea on your own rather than stealing someone else’s explanation of it.4

Mental Health is a Thing That Can Be Worked On Alone

We’ve all encountered this lie at one point or another. In fairness, it’s not a lie per-se because the people repeating it ad nauseam have accepted it as truth without putting any thought into it. Many of us have concluded that America’s mental health crisis is a symptom of our isolation and disconnection from any sense of community. How, then, can we attempt to cure our selves of this by writing in a journal alone in our bedrooms? Logically, we can’t.

This idea may have been well intentioned at some point in the past but in 2021 it’s no more than marketing. Self help books, journals, and so on are part of a very lucrative industry capitalizing on an epidemic. Giving people false hope while shoving an endless supply of cures in their faces is a proxy of the health care industry’s alleged focus on treatment rather than cure; it’s more profitable to keep people sick5.

IQ Isn’t Important

A major cause of strife in the United States could very well be that the entire premise of our nation was flawed from the beginning. “…that all men are created equal” appears to not only be verifiably not true but actually the opposite of the truth.

IQ, intelligence quotient, is a measure of an individual’s ability to solve several types of problems and thus generate an approximate metric. There’s plenty of debate on IQ’s validity, as there is with any metric that proclaims some of us are clearly better at some things than others (indeed, belief in the opposite is fair evidence one mustn’t be intelligent), but most clinicians agree that it’s good enough to provide clinical value.

Due to my repeated bouts of therapy, I’ve had my IQ tested multiple times and always get roughly the same score which says to me it’s an accurate test. I’m in the “gifted” category which separates me from average by around 25-30 points but there are still another 30 points between myself and a genius. Due to my “incellish” nice-guy nature I’d always erred toward giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming I simply wasn’t explaining myself clearly enough, and for a time I actually believed I was the one who was crazy or stupid in any situation.

After much reading on the subject of intelligence, I began to realize that it’s not stupidity or ignorance on my part. I feel like an outsider in most situations because I am. The interests of average people are extremely boring to me and my interests are too over their heads to be enjoyed. One must be careful here because this always looks like elitism but that’s only because the world is designed for average people (or even below-average these days6) so it’s difficult to defend claims of “you aren’t intelligent enough to get it” because you’re in opposition to everyone else in the room.

Also linked to being a “nice guy” is my compulsion to defer to people whom I think are obviously wrong. Don’t rock the boat, don’t start an argument, etc., because you likely won’t be able to win that fight. How can you win an argument against people who don’t understand what you’re saying? I’ve learned to instead accept that I am right and let them keep their irrelevant beliefs because in short measure they’ll return to watching “The Big Game” and forget all about the discussion.

IQ’s importance has nothing to do with problem solving or debates, though. IQ also has a well-documented correlation to emotional pain, anxiety, addiction, and so on (Karpinski, 2018; Coplan, 2011). Thoughts such as “why is _____ this way? It’s so backwards!” and “If only _____ would _____, the world would be much better off” lead to frustration and anxiety in anyone. Highly intelligent people have far more of these thoughts than the less mentally gifted.

Conclusion

This list could go on forever (and likely will in the future) but these are the most obvious things that came to my mind over the couple weeks it took me to write this. It’ll forever be impressive to me how ones opinions change as they gain confidence and improve their lifestyle. My opinions will undoubtedly continue to evolve as I spend more time in sobriety and improving the quality of friendships I obtain.

1 2 Allegedly

3 I have to attribute “brain worms” to Saagar Entjeti of Breaking Points.

4 As I alluded to in the section on critical thinking, this is some of the hardest work a person can do. Even the initial requisite action of noticing when you’re not thinking is extremely difficult in most cases.

5 A discussion on the health care industry is beyond the scope of this article but I must say I don’t believe in the vague conspiracy in which doctors all plot to keep us diseased while offering medicines that aren’t much better than placebo. Our health care system was designed alongside our culture as a whole and it’s clear to me that there’s a pervading sense of “good enough” in Western society. Drug companies are certainly willing to sacrifice human lives for profit (Beckenhauer, 2017; Van Zee, 2009) but they don’t represent the entire health care system, and the issue of “profits over all” is a much deeper issue and likely one that is impossible to correct without a major reengineering of civilization.

6 “No Child Left Behind”, anyone? How well has that worked out?

Beckenhauer, S. (2017, 21, Jul). 3 big pharma scandals that will make you sick. Represent.Us. https://bulletin.represent.us/3-big-pharma-stories-will-make-sick/

Coplan, J., Hodulik, S., Mathew, S., et al. (2012, Feb). The relationship between intelligence and anxiety: An association with subcortical white matter metabolism. Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience. 3(8). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnevo.2011.00008

Karpinski, R., Kolb, A., Tetreault, N., Borowski, T. (2018, Feb). High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities. Intelligence. 66. 8-23. https://doi.org/10.1016.j.intell.2017.09.001

Van Zee, A. (2009, Feb). The promotion and marketing of OxyContin: Commercial triumph, public health tragedy. Am J Public Health. 99(2). 221-227. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2007.131714

2021: Quarter 3, Week 1

A New System

How many times have I tried to get themed, regular posts going? A lot. Here, I’m attempting to limit all of my personal posting to one day at the beginning of the week to review my past week. It’s broken down into quarters and weeks. My quarters might not line up with other people’s; they’re aligned with the planner I use (for the most part) and it actually took me a bit of effort to get my schedule aligned. I had to reuse the last month of my last planner so that I could start a new planner off in July (which is the start of the 3rd quarter if you’re beginning in January).

I don’t like writing about myself very much but I know I should, for myself if not for the friends I’ve connected with here. Personal posts could lend context to the topical content I write: I’m no less damaged than anyone else and my biases all have origins which I can’t really do anything about, but I can at least note them. There’ll be less editing (read: none) and more of a conversational style in these posts. I actually spend a lot of time figuring out how to word things in my other posts. I don’t like starting sentences with “I” or “T” and I’m not sure why.

Fourth of July

My “Fourth” was uneventful, like all my holidays. My mother’s weird sisters came over like every holiday. They’re the only family we see anymore. My mother has never gotten on with my dad’s side of the family. They’re fairly conservative, successful in their careers and family lives, and not afraid to be blunt. My mother’s family is the opposite. Always talking behind each other’s backs, either married to alcoholics or never married, and generally stupid people (a technical term, after my post on IQ). I’d love to have been better acquainted with the healthier side of my family but my father was too much of a neutered coward to ever bring them around, lest he face my mother’s scorn (which he faced anyway so I don’t know what the big deal was).

Holidays are reminder of how unhealthy my family is so I don’t love them. Everyone in my life talks about the fireworks and family gatherings and ornate dinner spreads. We had burnt-to-death ribs and everyone (besides me, of course) was drunk by 5.

My brother is having his Fourth today and invited a friend over who brought his quite annoying children. It’s bizarre that although basically my whole family once again lives in my parents’ house, nobody thinks to ask anyone else here before they do something. I probably wouldn’t say no if he brought up having company, but having kids screaming and crying in my backyard out of the blue was a little jarring.

Planner

As I mentioned in my introduction, I managed to sync up my planner to the year finally and I’m pretty excited about it! I’ve taken some time to get this one “right” and used it as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. All systems decay, mine quicker than most, so it won’t be long before this leaf is sucked into the lawnmower of entropy. But, a few weeks of high energy focus is better than none and although I’m at the midway point of my life I do feel like I continue to make progress on building better habits. Some day that will end and that prospect terrifies me. Pop catch phrases will tell us that we can always improve and get better, but that isn’t really true is it? Some day you’re just too old and all there is to look forward to is the end.

I’m setting up a few habit goals with this planner such as exercising 3 times a week and only drinking coffee in the morning; no caffeine after lunch. I won’t lie, I’ve struggled particularly with exercise. I just haven’t been able to find my motivation since COVID began. Caffeine has been hit or miss. My doctor told me to try cutting back for 4 weeks at which time we’ll review my blood pressure to see if I need medication. I’m trying quite hard, and I’m doing okay. I had more than I should have this morning but nothing like the past. I didn’t have any caffeine at all yesterday which I realized this morning is a mistake as I woke up with a killer headache and fatigue. Cold turkey isn’t going to work for me, so I’ll stick to the coffee plan. It’s better than an energy drink, at least.

Blood Pressure

Speaking of, it’s really hit me how much high blood pressure effects someone. I am on a short fuse all day, especially at home. Some of that is just that I live with a bunch of deranged losers but I could be more patient if I didn’t always feel like I had to explode. Part of it is certainly that nobody here respects anyone’s boundaries (or that we even have any) and we all operate on covert contracts. I’m not really sure how to get over that. You can’t really abruptly change yourself when you’re surrounded by people who have known you your whole life.

Caffeine is only part of the plan. I’m also eating better and starting to exercise a bit. I go for walks right now but I know I need to kick it up a notch. Sure, walking is better than nothing but let’s not lie to ourselves and say that it’s exercise. If you’re out of breath after a 30 minute walk you’re really in trouble. I cancelled my DoorDash account which has saved me a ton of money already. I still eat out too much but nowhere near what I used to. I whipped up a chicken salad off the top of my head for the week and it’s actually quite good. I enjoy / love cooking but it’s kind of a frustrating experience in a house where the dishes are always dirty and there are mystery glazes all over the kitchen counters. I can’t promise myself I’ll cook regularly in that mess as it involves almost an hour of cleaning first some days.

That’s it for week one. I’ll get better at being more “personal” as these go on, I hope. One thing I learned in rehab which I let slip away only a couple weeks after getting out is that even when you’re totally honest and open you’re heart to people, the ones who love you still love you. Somehow, I’d like to get that back.

The Burden of the Bell

How Relevant to Your Life is Your IQ?

If you’re two or more standard deviations from the mean, probably more than you think. That’s what Aaron Clarey claims his book “Curse of the High IQ” is about. Sadly it’s more of a front row ticket to experience all the bitterness and defensiveness the author has built up throughout his life. Clarey opens with a very cursory explanation of what IQ is and how to measure it and then dives straight into insulting average people (outright calling them “retards” for example) for the entirety of his book. I can’t dismiss his whole book as he makes valid points throughout, but the whole work is tainted by his own obvious bitterness and his lack of knowledge on any of the topics he’s writing about.

I’m considered gifted. I won’t detail my IQ score here because I find that to be incredibly cringey. I used to feel a lot of the things the author does, although not quite as verbosely. I recognize that I’m an outsider in most situations but that’s not everyone else’s problem, it’s mine. Going around with a cross to bear your whole life because of something neither you nor everybody else can control is extremely petty and childish.

A common situation in the book that arises repeatedly throughout the first chapters is that Clarey will state that being average isn’t “bad” or “wrong”, but then in the next paragraph is referring to them as though they should be sent to Auschwitz. By the middle of the book he dispenses with his pretense and commits fully to hating every person on Earth who isn’t him. He even shows his distain for “fellow” intellectuals by claiming anyone who disagrees with him doesn’t really have a high IQ. I had to look the author up to be certain I wasn’t reading a book written by a 16 year old and his public persona is pretty much what you’d expect. He’s a “tough smart guy” who smokes cigars and rides motorcycles and has no time for political correctness; the usual nonsense these grifters employ to fool weak men into dumping money into their pockets.

The author also has a bad habit of telling quick anecdotes from his past to illustrate a point, but they’re without exception obviously made up. His anecdotes remind me of the stories wimpy kids tell about finally getting the nerve to punch their bully in the face and everyone cheered and Megan kissed them and…

You can’t ignore that any man who makes it their career to be superior and strong, almost to the point of directly saying it every time they get the spotlight, is always quite the opposite. Aaron Clarey is one such man; I will outline why below.

Aaron Clarey Doesn’t Know What Intelligence Is

After a couple chapters of the book I was asking myself if Clarey knows the difference between intelligence, knowledge and wisdom because he uses them incorrectly through the whole book. For those who don’t have an IQ as high as I do (wink), let me elaborate:

Intelligence is your ability to learn something. Intelligence has nothing to do with what you know and only a little to do with how you apply it. Knowledge is, well, knowledge! It’s the invisible brain goop that you distill experience into so that you can later reference it. Wisdom is how you apply both of these things in the world. There’s no consensus on the following but I believe problem solving skills are a subset of wisdom, not intelligence. There are plenty of people who aren’t cognitively gifted but still excel in their vocation because they have studied it for most of their lives and worked out how to use what they’ve learned.

So, it’s frustrating that Clarey spends the whole book referring to wisdom as intelligence. One of his claims is that teachers aren’t intelligent because they don’t present topics to their students through the lens of their own lived experiences and passion. Sorry, sir that’s not intelligence and since IQ doesn’t measure wisdom, it shoots your premise dead.

Everyone Outside of 2% of the Population is Retarded

One of his first arguments is for “relative retardation” which is my own term but the use of “retard” is his. What society defines as mentally retarded is a person with an IQ below 70-75 (75-80 makes you a mouth breather for sure, but not legally retarded). According to the author it is therefor appropriate for people with an IQ of 139 to think of people with an IQ of 105 (average) as retarded because 139 – 105 = 34 and 100 – 70 = 30. To Clarey, it is the distance between two IQs that should determine how the more gifted view the less.

His argument for this is okay. If you have an above average intelligence, you’ll agree that dealing with average people can be God damn frustrating on a good day. He cites all sorts of evidence to level hatred at them such as watching football (he calls it “sportball” which is a bright neon sign indicating someone has a chip on their shoulder for strong males) and reading People Magazine (and a chip on their shoulder for the blonde woman who rejected them in high school) instead of curing cancer or ending world hunger. Okay, I can support that in theory but it doesn’t work when you think about it for more than however long it took him to write his chapter.

First, it’s well documented by now that team sports and watching them is a healthy social activity, even when it creates friendly rivalries. Men need to bond with other men and we learned in the first decade of this century that talking shit about everything you can think of is not a healthy way to bond with people. Perhaps instead of thinking “I don’t like sports so they are useless and icky”, Clarey should ask himself why he has such disdain for sport and try to learn something from the people he dismisses as retarded but whom, I have to say is certain, have more positive and connected social lives than he1.

That said, it’s accurate to say that average people waste their potential. Watching football on the weekend with friends isn’t the same as watching television alone or with your spouse every evening for 40 years. I’ve often lamented on this very blog about my observation that I’m the only man my age who has hobbies and interests. It depresses and angers me that my friends are content to work their miserable jobs they can’t stop complaining about until they retire or die. They stay married to a person whom they can’t stop insulting behind their backs when in reality the problem is with them not their spouse. So, while Clarey is an idiot who can’t form a rational argument, I agree with many of his sentiments here.

School is Bad and Teachers are Stupid

Here Clarey brings up a lot of points I’ve used myself. Nobody with a good degree of sanity would claim that the education system of any nation is good. They’re dated, inefficient, and force the intelligent and average students to learn at the level of the lowest common denominator. Again he goes off the deep end, though, and starts railing against ridiculous imagined injustices. I still have to reconcile that with his points that make sense to me but there aren’t many.

It is sensible, in my estimation, to propose that someone who spends 13 years in school, goes to college, and then comes straight back to work in often the same school they graduated from doesn’t have much experience to offer children. They’ve never had what Clarey describes as a “real job”, which sounds disparaging to teachers but the troll in me would like to agree here. Teaching is also kind of a bottom-feeder job. Teachers publicly talk about their love of educating children but privately the first thing they always mention to me is “summer off”. It’s a job for lazy people. That’s fine; if you’re lazy it’s nice that there’s a job that pays a salary and has a retirement plan that will at least allow you to keep eating.

It’s logically impossible for an intelligent person to pursue a career in teaching because we all are well aware of the following:

  1. It pays absolutely shit.
  2. You have no control over what you teach.
  3. The children of never-should-have-been parents will be a constant thorn in your side.
  4. Aside from virtue signaling whenever education trends on Twitter, nobody respects you.
  5. You have little impact on a child’s life, if they had shitty parents they’re going to be drug addicts regardless of how much they know about poetry. If that is what got you to go into teaching, you’re probably going to be very, very unhappy.

School isn’t all bad though; how we’ve come to treat the institution is toxic. We blame bullying and cliques for suicidal and homicidal kids when in reality it’s poor parenting. A child will grow up to face bullies for the rest of his life and if they don’t learn in school they’re going to be neutered in the professional world or come off as completely unhinged when they finally go way overboard in standing up to somebody. You can’t stand up to your bullies though because you’ll be suspended. Lose / lose.

School also teaches kids how to navigate social environments. High school cliques persist well into the professional world, albeit not quite as Netflix-drama archetypal. If you’re a shy, introverted nerd, you might have men and women at work who you get along with well enough, but you’ll never be invited to dinner. When we grow up we learn to bite our tongues and not ask the cuckold guy with 10 cats and an abusive girlfriend why he’s such a fucking pussy.

Clarey mentions the architecture of schools as being similar to prisons and I don’t know any kid who hasn’t made the same observation at some point. These artless buildings certainly don’t inspire creativity and interest but I don’t think they’re supposed to. In school we learned discipline (some of us, I didn’t) not creativity. This is largely why the whole system is out of date. We don’t work in factories anymore.

1 In reference to this entire paragraph I should point out that I don’t watch sports or read gossip magazines. However, I know that this is my personal preference and I don’t believe my friends are retarded for watching the Superbowl. I’ve met many men as-smart-as or smarter than I who watch sports religiously.

Alcoholics Anonymous II

I started writing this post in the beginning of March and it sat idle in my drafts queue for some time. Although I’ve written about Alcoholics Anonymous in the past, both before I went to rehab and immediately afterward, my thoughts on the subject have changed. Indeed, my opinion changed each time I wrote about it but always toward a direction of more accuracy (I believe).

The Cult Idea

While many people espouse the idea that Alcoholics Anonymous (hereafter A.A.) is a cult, it uniformly comes from a place of bitterness and resentment rather than genuine criticism. For one, such alcoholics don’t appear to know what the definition of a cult is. A cult, more or less, is a new religious body which has not reached sufficient membership to gain recognition by a government. As a Christian club, A.A. isn’t a new religion and it’s certainly recognized by at least all Western governments.

If we can be honest that’s not what people mean when they say “A.A. is a cult”. People of this mind have several grievances, some I agree with and some are the baseless nitpicking one expects from those who have sunk low enough in their own lives to be judgmental of those who are succeeding.

  1. Slogans and catchphrases
  2. The Big Book & Its Steps
  3. Recommendations to go daily
  4. A.A.’s belief that they are “the only way” to live a life free from addiction
  5. Coins and other tokens to signify membership and success within

Of these, the last three are pretty dumb things to take issue with. I admit I don’t see them nearly as often as I see the first two so I’ll be addressing those three together whereas the first two require a bit more investigation.

Slogans and Catchphrases

Much of my own criticism of the A.A. lifestyle has centered around this point. I’m not a fan of watchwords myself and I try to avoid catch phrases; I believe they lead to lazy, reflexive conversation and thought. Many of the people who criticize A.A. for this are precisely those who need slogans and catchphrases to stay sober. Easily recalled foci are useful in giving people respite from their insatiable thirst, at least long enough for them to call a sponsor or go to a meeting. The most famous phrase is, of course, “One day at a time”, but it is far from the only one. “It works if you work it” is a close second in my experience.

The Big Book & Its Steps

Although I don’t go to A.A. I consider The A.A. Big Book to be one of the most important books written in the 20th century. At the time of its writing in 1939, American culture was just beginning to slip into the emasculated, responsibility-avoidant world we live in today.

It’s a foregone conclusion at this point that one of the primary causes of addiction in the Western world is the improper rearing of young men by single-parent or no-parent households (either because one or both parents are emotionally unavailable or because they are literally absent). After women flocked to the workforce in droves and men adopted a workaholic nature to avoid their unbearable home life, boys were raised to be something that isn’t a man. This wasn’t undetected by said boys and they often enter adulthood laden with resentment, fear, and sadness at the prospects of their meaningless future. This is the Betty Crocker recipe for an alcoholic.

Is it any surprise, then, that The Big Book simply lays out rules for how to be a man? Following the steps earnestly gives men the sense of responsibility and control over their own lives that they’ve longed for their whole lives. It’s why men who don’t follow the steps almost always relapse in some form, and men who do follow the steps often divorce their broken, enabling wives and discard their toxic (probably also alcoholic) friends.

One has to admit that it does favor ideas that appeal to men; after all when it was written it wasn’t nearly as common to find a female alcoholic as it is today1. I’d never claim that The Big Book is perfect, nor is it incredibly accurate in most of its claims, but it was written almost a century ago. Unfortunately with those who have enough of the spotlight to redress the literature apparently okay with rewording The Big Book and releasing it as their own, there isn’t enough of an organized impetus to create new source material.

The Other Three

The last three points I listed are based on the alcoholics unwillingness to live by a routine or engage with other people in an emotionally open group environment. We can posit that people opposed to routine and social connection are not sober and will not be sober until they come to grips with their immature reflex to rebel against some not-actually-real authority they project into being with their minds.

Having a weak, absent, or unavailable father coupled with an often codependent or narcissistic mother means that the alcoholic grows up without any clues as to how they should behave in the presence of other people. They often walk on eggshells around those they admire or fear, trying to say only what they think the other person wants to hear. Different people “want to hear” different things, so the alcoholic must live as a chameleon who never develops a real opinion of the world.

Never forming an opinion means the alcoholic never forms their own system of beliefs about the world and as such will always struggle to express emotions in an adult manner. If you don’t know how you feel about anything, how can you possibly tell others how you feel about it? You can try, but people generally know when you’re lying. Nobody will tell you this, they’ll just keep you at arms length. This is why the alcoholic often suffers a very solitary life in which the only friends or lovers they have are those who are just as shattered as they.

Do You Need A.A.?

In my travels across the sober landscape I’ve met few people who can’t maintain sobriety without a system like A.A. I’m very, very fortunate to be one of them and I never forget that. You won’t know whether you need A.A. or not until you commit to it and then try living without it. For many, this isn’t even worth experimentation. I only stopped attending my meetings because the group near my home was quite malignant in many ways and I couldn’t bear being in their presence. I continued to study recovery and made an effort to improve myself outside of these meetings, though, which I attribute largely to my success.

1 I don’t want to pay the $20-$50 to purchase the full-text of the study I found illustrating this but this article mentions a 58% increase in women’s high-risk drinking between 2001 and 2012, so one can safely assume this is an upward trend and it must have been much less in the 1930s.

End of Month: June ’21

No More Mister Nice Guy

I’m writing an updated post on masculinity in the modern world right now and it’s taking quite a lot of time to put together because there’s a lot that needs to be said, but if a blog post is longer than four paragraphs it’s unlikely anyone will read it. The topic is on my mind frequently; I had a slight mental breakdown last week after reading an article on emotional incest and realizing this defined my lifelong relationship with my mother. Figuring that out led me down the frequently explored rabbit hole in which I realize what a pussy I am and how much of my life has been wasted trying to make women who don’t even like me happy.

As much as those moments suck, I did come out the other end better off. I’ve been reading the book “No More Mister Nice Guy” by Robert Glover which I recommend to all men, even manly lumberjack men as it could grant them insight into why some of their friends or siblings seem to willfully be weak. The Nice Guy Syndrome (colloquially termed “Incel”) isn’t a new idea (indeed the book is over 20 years old) and is one I’ve spoken about often, but commonly from an outside perspective as if I no longer suffered from it. While I have been able to curb the more visible aspects of it on my own (such as espousing that women only like assholes and since I don’t punch them in the stomach, I’ll never find a wife), being a Nice Guy is still my mind’s operating system.

I’m three-quarters through the book, which in itself is out of the ordinary; I haven’t finished a book since COVID began! Therefor I think I can safely assess the book as a whole. I’m not a proponent of self-help books and I’d say that all this book has done for me is make me more aware of what I need to work on and it gave me a few rudimentary tools to make slight adjustments. Reading a book isn’t going to radically change the way you live your life, though (just ask the millions of fat men and women who read The Whole 30 Diet, myself included). Glover lays out the problem much more accurately and thoroughly than I’ve ever read, though. If anything, it’s a great tool to help men who are interested in helping other men talk about the issue and refine their arguments against things like radical feminism and matriarchal households.

Moved Again

Yes, I moved again. Not to a new house or apartment, unfortunately, but to a new room in my mother’s house. My brother-who-isn’t-as-alcoholic-as-the-other-one-but-is-still-pretty-disgusting moved back home because the married friends he was living with decided to start a family. Good for them, but also fuck them. Lol. I had to consolidate my office and my bedroom which I’d just finished buying separate furniture sets for to have perfectly color-matched minimal layouts into my mother’s old room with pink walls that don’t match anything I own (except for a shirt I have for the days I’m feeling sassy).

I’m not mad at him, really. I’m angry with the inconvenience which I understand is separate from him. As a sibling, he’s the best one I’ve got even though we’re still really distant. Maybe this will be an opportunity to get closer. We never were very close in childhood either; he took after my father and I hated everything about my father (a textbook “Nice Guy” trait, I’ve learned). As adults we have more in common: we’re the only two siblings who are gainfully employed, I’m a recovering alcoholic and he only drinks to excess at gatherings which is fairly normal for an American, and we’re both musicians although there’s a wide gulf between the Satanic Black Metal I listen to and his Fleetwood Mac.

There are positives to the room as well. It’s huge… it’s the room my brother and I shared as children so it’s big enough to have two prepubescent boys living in it with a decent amount of personal space. It’s probably the size I need in a bedroom, now that I’ve seen what it’s like to have the space. It’s still cramped because I have to keep some of my mothers furniture and half the closet isn’t accessible because of my music equipment, but this is temporary (allegedly; all three of us moved back home “temporarily”).

Dating

I’ve dated two women this month. Dating won’t be a great success while I’m still dealing with all of these mental health issues surrounding my maleness (or lack thereof). To my female readers, my preoccupation with masculinity may seem silly, but that’s kind of the point. Women can’t understand what it’s like to be a man or what it means to be one, so the fact that most men are raised by single mothers is less than good. But I’m getting off track and that’s all addressed in the post I’m working on… Lol.

So, the first woman is a Lebanese Christian… normally one needn’t include a woman’s religion in her description but for Arabic women it makes a huge difference. Or so I thought! She’s just as uptight and deranged as the Muslim women I’ve met and her family is just as homicidal and abusive. They’ve just switched prophets. Cool I guess. I still talk to her but I’m slowly disconnecting; I’m not “ghosting” women anymore, that’s cowardly and it doesn’t do anyone any service. Maybe when I tell her what’s up, in a few years after she stops resenting me she’ll realize that she has some shit to work on. She told me after our very first date that she’s on three different antidepressants which “don’t work” (do any antidepressants really work?) and every time she video calls me (twice a day) she’s in bed and talks about how she hasn’t had the energy to do anything. I’ve only known her a few weeks and she’s noticeably gained a lot of weight. She attributes this to not going to the gym. That idea is so hilarious to me that I can’t even dispute it to her.

The second woman I’ve been dating has been more recent and positive. She has children which is always a downer and may put an expiration date on the relationship, but I’m open to the idea that it could work. She also lives with her mother but her mother lives in her house, not vice-versa. It may seem hypocritical to not want to date someone living with their mother, given my circumstances, but I wouldn’t date me. She’s quite attractive and in good shape for our age and she’s intelligent and optimistic (so far, usually the rampant mental illness comes out after you kiss someone for the first time). Finding anyone over 30 in the Midwest, male or female, who isn’t already well on their way to type-II diabetes and alcoholic cirrhosis is like finding a diamond.

More happened this month, of course, but that’s the crux. Since I’ve written more this month, I’ve likely already talked about some of the other stuff. How was your June?

Do I Need to Purge This Thing Again?!

The Cycle is this: I get motivated to start writing again and churn out posts and drafts in rapid succession. The drafts pile up; I’d always rather write something fresh than go back and edit something (ding ding ding here’s an alarm bell!). Eventually I get motivated to go through all my drafts and see what I’ll finish, become embarrassed by how childish they are, and erase the lot. After that I may or may not go on to delete all my published posts as well.

I’ve raised this concern many times in the past. Friends pat me on the back and say my writing isn’t childish at all! I believe them, because that’s an opinion I can definitely live with, but I’m finally at a point that I’m not willing to accept good enough for a blog anymore. I’d like to write something I’m proud of some day and I’m not getting any younger. Even better, I’d like to write a lot of things that I’m proud of. Maybe a blog isn’t the best vehicle for that; the allure of instant gratification is difficult for a child of absent parents to ignore. Even now, when I net an average of a whopping 3 views per post, it feels intensely better than zero.

ATTENTION SEEKING

My career as a cringe artist dates back to my teens. My generation pioneered the use of oversharing in front of complete strangers. Early social media prototypes like Livejournal and Myspace were riddled with the cynical groupthink circle jerks that bore today’s nihilistic anti-movements such as BLM1 and Neo-Marxism. We used defensive, Google-educated liberal sarcasm to transform Facebook from a promising college networking service to the toxic boomer-ridden hellscape that it is today. Very few of us, even today, are willing to accept that wearing a permanent smirk and insulting people for the sin of not using an Oxford Comma wasn’t the best thing for civilization’s mental health.

By the time Twitter rolled around, those of us with any sense were just about finished with social media and “connections”. Even users of long-lived platforms like Facebook have retreated into smaller social webs of people they already know or at best are friends of friends. The days of talking to random people simply because you want to talk to them / fuck them are long gone. Apps such as Discord attempted to bring conversation back recently; I don’t know if you’ve ever used it but holy shit is it an eye opening experience! I feel completely safe in asserting that everybody with a Discord account is a raging alcoholic. It doesn’t prompt conversations as much as it prompts chapters-long tirades about politics, how great your life is compared to everyone elses2, and how video game publisher X has personally ruined your life. In my experience, the formula is that after a deafening silence on the server that can last hours or days, someone will say something about their day and then thirty people will completely ignore everyone else and talk about their own lives until they realize nobody is listening to them and it goes dead again.

DIFFICULTY EXPRESSING EMOTIONS

(EXCEPT FOR THE ONES THAT DEMAND PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION TO YOU AND LIKE YOU)

I’ve started to narrow down the cause of my participation in this shit for so many years, which is why this post is on my mind today. I read a couple articles earlier today about unavailable parents and it reminded me what I am and how irrevocable my spiritual condition is. Articles and books about this topic often mention children of absent parents find it nearly impossible to express their emotions and that confused me for a long time because I express plenty of childish, attention-seeking emotions. Perhaps they should have written that children of unavailable parents have difficulty expressing adult emotions in a mature and open manner. Even then, “difficulty” wouldn’t be the right word… it’s quite impossible.

For example let’s look at the simple act of saying “no” to somebody. I don’t know about other people who had parents like I do, but I can’t do it. I can refuse to do something, but I can’t just say no. There are a few practices I’ve developed throughout my life in my methodology for not wanting to do the damn thing that follow:

  1. Agree to do it but lie to get out of it at the last minute.
  2. Agree to do it but… just… don’t.
  3. Make excuses for why I can’t do it.
  4. Give a soft “no” and follow it with an encyclopedic volume of justifications for my “no”.
  5. Do it and resent the person while I’m doing it.

Responses one and two are far, far less frequent now that I’m sober. I actually can’t remember the time I consciously lied to somebody (and of course we all unconsciously do it several times a day, it’s an inescapable reality). Four and five are the most common reactions I have… five more so with my family members which isn’t surprising given the amount of emotional blackmail coursing through a family like mine3.

CUT THE CORD

It took me a couple days to write this post and I hope my regular reader(s) can tell I actually edited it (which I never do). Between starting it and now, when I will post it, I’ve deleted almost all of my social media accounts4. Prior to doing so I reached out to a few people and gave them my phone number but there’s a part of me that hopes most of them never text me. I have very, very few real friends… but at least I’m starting to figure out why.

I’ve always been a people-pleaser. Since beginning sobriety several years ago, I’ve slowly been learning that pleasing everyone isn’t a good way to live your life. You only attract people who need to be pleased all the time (read: narcissists and codependent bitches). I’m not able to make better friends yet because as much as I’ve been told I need boundaries, nobody can actually teach me how to make them, but at least not having toxic people who use me for sympathy around will allow me to breathe. I’ll still have my family, unfortunately. I can deal with that for another year.

1 Even though advocates of ideas such as this are fully indoctrinated in their bullshit ideology and thus immune to critical discussion (for example, I’ve actually read “White Fragility” unlike most of the people who claim it’s the greatest book ever written. It is, objectively, dogshit), I feel it’s such a hot-button topic that I should clarify my position: Obviously anyone who says black lives don’t matter is an idiot, as are the people who say “all lives matter” in response. My issue isn’t with the idea that black people are disproportionately harassed/killed by police, it’s with all of the additional, unrelated neoliberal garbage that has become associated with it such as “white privilege”, “my truth”, and so on.
2 Always a telltale sign that someone’s life is, in fact, quite grim.
3 Which also has a formula… something akin to “I fucked up my life but since we’re related you’re going to fix it for me or I’m going to bring up every time you let me down from now until when you were an infant”.
4 I still can’t delete Facebook even though the friend I was keeping it to stay in touch with has basically abandoned me. I own an Oculus Quest 2 and you can’t use it without having a Facebook account. I’m going to try to sell it for a reasonable price and if there are any takers I’ll be able to get rid of Facebook then. It’s too new of a purchase for me to just say “fuck it” and turn it into a $500 paperweight.

Monster Hunter, or: Video Game Movies That Set Themselves Up for Sequels Are Either Lazy or Painfully Lack Self-Awareness.

I never planned on watching Monster Hunter but insomnia and Amazon offering it for free conspired to have me at least play it in the background while I did something else. That’s the level of attention required to experience a film like this without feeling like you missed anything important.

Video game movies are only ever tangentially related to their source material and this was no exception. I’m not very familiar with the franchise as I find Japanese role-playing games and their fans to be a bigger than small percentage of what’s wrong with everything in the universe. If you’re not familiar (and I hope you’re not, for your sake), JRPG’s have banal plots inspired by the worst teen romance films you can picture and consistently deliver the most derivative gameplay in the industry. The fans are the type of fedora-wearing neckbeards who insist (in novella-sized walls of text on Reddit and elsewhere) that the nonsensical, dare I say stupid settings and narratives are actually “brilliant, you just don’t understand Japanese culture”.

But since you’re not a weeb, you know that you don’t need to understand Japanese culture to know that even the average Japanese person likely thinks these games are embarrassing representatives of their people’s creative spark. How many times can you rewrite a story about an angsty loner pining for an aloof princess who gets captured by a demon/general/giant robot and still expect Americans to buy millions of copies of it? That number approaches infinity, apparently.

But I digress, this isn’t about the game, it’s about the movie. The movie is worse. Far, far worse.

I admit that I only payed attention to collectively twenty minutes of the… I don’t know… let’s call it 2 hours… of the movie’s1 runtime. Still, stuff just happened without any explanation or logical preconditions. In that way I suppose it is pretty faithful to the games. Milla Jovovich, pushing 50, plays the same character she’s played in every movie she’s been in since The Fifth Element: vanilla female bad ass whose one-liners would embarrass even Bruce Willis. She only has one expression; I’d blame botox but she’s had that expression since she was 20. It’s like half confused, half almost mad. Like she’ll be mad in a few minutes but she’s not there yet. Her battle cries actually sound just as shitty and forced as the bargain-bin voice acting JRPGs use on their English dubs. Another point for accuracy to source material.

I won’t go into a ton of detail about the plot of the movie partly because it’s the plot of every mid-budget fantasy action movie that has ever been made and partly because, as I said, I didn’t really pay attention. To give the briefest rundown (and I doubt anybody cares about spoilers as you can’t really spoil something everyone has already seen a dozen times) some Marines are in the desert because Marines are always in the desert. As far as I can remember that is literally all you get as an explanation. Some flashing lights dazzle everyone and then there in another desert and it’s immediately obvious that it’s not anywhere on Earth but it takes them like 800 hours to realize they’re not in Iraq anymore. Even when they see the ribcage of an animal the size of downtown Chicago they just say “woah I ain’t never seen that in no museum!”. No shit. Fortunately all of these idiots die pretty much right away except for Mila. I suppose that’s only semi-fortunately. There’s sad music and she mourns for about 30 seconds which is actually appropriate because these characters had no personalities and I doubt anyone watching this movie gave a toss about them any more than she appears to.

Here I should note that at no point in the game series are their United States Marines from Earth teleported to the game’s universe but I guess the writers needed a reason to recycle 90s bad-ass dialogue.

So then the monsters show up. Well I guess they already did because they killed all of the Marines but you know what I mean. Then they really show up. The monsters in Monster Hunter are the Godzilla variety, not the horror variety. There are only three as far as I can remember which is interesting because Monster Hunter (the game(s)) involve hundreds of different species, but I get it. Money’s tight and the CGI sucked enough as it was. There are two dinosaurs and some giant spiders. Really just dredging the creative pool on the creature designs here. One of the dinosaurs is a dragon so I guess that’s different than a regular dinosaur.

Many, many rounds of anti-tank ammunition are fired at these monsters with no effect. Just when all is lost, a stranger WITH A GOD DAMN BOW AND ARROW comes and starts injuring the monsters. I never thought I’d see something more retarded than superheroes shrugging off atomic bombs only to be punched to death but here you have it.

So here’s where the thin thread of plot this movie hangs from enters the picture. This is, as you may have guessed, a parallel universe. There’s a magic stone tower that’s been abandoned for an unspecified amount of time which occasionally pulls people from Earth over here to get eaten by dinosaurs. The natives of this planet have Spanish galleons which sail on sand (seriously this is just so fucking Japanese Role Playing Game I couldn’t keep myself from cringing when I saw it) and I guess they’ve been fighting these monsters for millennia from God knows where because there’s not a single house in this entire movie. Even worse, for people who have been living with these giant creatures eating them for possibly thousands of years, they really suck at fighting them. Everything goes pretty bad for them the whole time until they find Mila who is the only person in the entire multiverse who can aim an arrow into a mile-long monster’s gaping mouth. Eventually. She misses a lot too.

At the end of the movie, the three companions (aside from Mila and The Stranger, Ron Perlman shows up 4/5ths through the movie and does nothing at all) brace for an attack from the dragons and the movie ends. Well holeeee shit. This is where I can’t figure out if the director actually believed he’d be offered a sequel for this dumpster fire or if he realized there weren’t actually any loose ends to tie up because there is no plot, so he couldn’t figure out how to end it. Honestly if they had just had a UFO come down and turn everyone into frogs it would have been a satisfying enough ending.

And as you likely guessed by my title, this is a problem all movies based on video games share. Very, very few make it to the sequel and it’s usually all down to timing. There’s nothing good about the Resident Evil film franchise; the first one was interesting enough for a directionless artistic abortion, but they kept pumping out sequel after sequel and they only got worse (as they always do regardless of whether the franchise is based on a game or not).

Warcraft was actually somewhat watchable and even that didn’t get to tie up its cliffhanger. Granted, Warcraft is extremely true to the lore of the games so anyone who plays them knows what happens next. But if even a movie that is decent can’t get a sequel, I don’t see why these hacks insist on ending everything on “the heroes jump toward the thing that is evil, cut to credits”.

The world sucks.

1 I prefer the word “film” but I don’t feel right using it here, not least because film isn’t really involved in the production of movies anymore.