The twenty-first century American is such a simple, gullible creature. He will categorically not think for himself. What he does, save in rare exceptions, with rare people, comes entirely from what he is told to do. What he thinks is expected of him. What "gets into the air" as what is to be done. You can get him to do anything. No matter if it's madness. You can get him to go along with it. Allowing that enough other people are also doing it. An alien race--and maybe this is what is happening--could amuse itself, and conduct experiments in which it introduced madness--some form of it--into the culture, had that madness endorsed by certain people, and sit back and watch how that madness was never questioned. How it become public policy. How it usurped the status quo. How it became "right." This could be done with anything. No matter how wrong, backwards, insane, counter-intuitive, counter-productive. The madness could reduce even the chance of happiness--which is hard enough to acquire anyway--and people would go along with it. Everything now is lockstep, and nothing is thought. People have private thoughts, but even those, as pertains the outer world, right and wrong, are being warped. And their personal thoughts they bury deep down, or behave in such a way so as not to let anyone else see those personal thoughts.
The same people who claim to be entirely about a cause today--who are violent in their endorsement of this cause, and play the part of the passionate advocate, when enough people are looking--as on social media, or at work, or with friends and family and peer groups--will have nothing to do with that same cause in three years, just as they had nothing to do with that cause three years ago. It will be replaced. What I'm saying is, a puppet master can replace it with anything. Absolutely anything. Replace it with evil, murder, death, destruction. Absurdity. Anything. Insanity.
Today I looked around on the bus and the subway, and saw that I was the only person without a mask. And yet, I saw one person after another in the worst physical condition, and you knew they were not people who had lately arrived at that condition by dropping some weight, and were thus a work in progress. No. These were people who would never extend the effort or exertion to exercise. They are just about signing on for heart disease. But they would extend no modicum of effort to do anything about that. Exercising. Eating better. But they were all these devotees of the mask.
Now does this make any sense? Of course it doesn't. The stroke, the heart attack, that makes sense as in that is what is courted by not taking a minimal amount of steps to reduce the chances of those health outcomes. But these people never would.
This is why mediocrity prevails. This is why talent is feared and hated, and pushed so far into the margins--when it does exist, which is now exceedingly rare--that it's obsolete, banished from society, and made, by the sociological norms, desires, paranoia, as something villainous. It's funneled out of the modern world. When mediocrity prevails, when there is no thinking, no identity, no striving, no exerting, there is devolution. What is then deemed "the best" is in reality the most mediocre. That's why you have awful writers that you're told are good. And people like Skip Bayless.
Values are also eroded because no one is behaving in the good faith--or rarely--that only comes with rigorous self-reflection, self-analysis, self-honesty, and much soul-searching. Those movements go in, not out, and everything in this world right now is directed away from the person and who they truly are--which few people wish to face--and out.
Twitter is out. Social media is out. Adopting a cause one doesn't believe in that makes a person look "good" is out. Passive aggressiveness is out. The direction is always away from a person. Toxicity is out. Anger at what one is and is not, is directed out.
When we direct everything out, we have no moral center, no intellectual center, no hub for critical thinking, or for even have a vague clue of who we are, or way to learn who we are.
Then we will do anything for any reason not matter how mad, how fake, how unethical, how bat shit crazy. We give it this different coat of paint. We call it justice. Equality. Safety. Concern for one's neighbor. But it's none of these things. It's as far away from these things as possible. Everything becomes inverted. What was good is now bad, what isn't funny is now funny. It's funny because it's not about making someone laugh, or degree of wit; it's about providing other people with something they can look at and tell themselves--and often truly enough--that they can do. It doesn't matter what something is. In truth, people don't want anything to be anything. They don't want smart to be smart. They don't want funny to be funny. They don't want decent to be decent. Because they are not these things, or fear that they are not these things, and the factors I detailed above facilitate them not being these things. So what they really want isn't the book to be great, the speaker to be a genius, the comedian to be funny. No. They want to see a blank piece of paper. That want the absence of the greatness, the genius, the humor. They want the label. Then, they can project themselves and their abilities onto that blank piece of paper. They can say a version of "I can do that." "I'm at that level." They can only do this if they are presented with things that are not the things in question. They are just labeled the right way. But they don't possess the reality. The label says "smart," but there is nothing smart there. The label says "funny," but there is nothing funny there.
And that's what people want, and it's what they need in order to live as we live right now. Which also isn't really living. But that is also not the point. That's another blank slate that people want with a label that reads "truly living" (or, I suppose, "My best life"). When you provide people with reality, with the actual thing, with the real deal--be it the greatness, the genius, the humor--that precludes from being able to do what they want and need to do with what they most desire from other people, from so-called intellectual elites, from other writers who are not me, and that is put whatever they must put upon that blank slate that is being offered to them.
Then they will call it great, call it genius, call it funny, even though it's none of these things, and if you cracked open their brains and showed the brainwaves, you'd see that they were the same as if that person was listening to a rock. It is all about the negation of reality, and something not being the actual something, but rather the absence of that something, with the right label. This is what allows people to think a certain way about themselves, and reality doesn't enter into any of it, save that it is an enemy. Actual genius, actual greatness, actual humor, becomes a problem. Because then the blank piece of paper is destroyed. In following, people have to appreciate something that is not on their level, though it's for them, and it was made for them, and it can add, for real, not for pretend, to their life, their relationships, their brains, their hearts, their entertainment, their health. But right now, it's so important for people to have their lies, the lies they tell themselves, that they would forgo actual genius, actual greatness, actual entertainment, actual humor, actual life experiences that are the entire point of why we are here. Why we are human. Why we exist. And, more importantly, why we live.