Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

As promised, I’m posting all my logic puzzles over at logiduction.wordpress.com, my new blog. I will also periodically report my personal tidings, particularly my reading, over at Ex-Tangent.

Thank you all for reading this blog, and I will be forced to direct your attention over there.

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This won’t be the type of return that all of you, who have so enjoyed my political commentary, might expect. I am not here to save the day and speak out with more bombastic rhetoric and be the sole voice of reason in this mess. I am not going to continue with political commentary as it once existed on this blog: this time, it will be more theoretical and will not stick with the shallow dealings of the now, the now being the day’s events. It will be broader in scope, but it will come across here less frequently than before – my writing will consist of other subjects. Before, my commentary followed a formula of “find news story, give angry opinion on it, find news story…” ad nauseum. That’s over.

But, perhaps, I shall tell you, readers, how this exile came about. Following the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to stop reading the news for a week, and, as such, stop blogging.

The results of that week? I felt absolutely liberated and my mood felt fantastic. My mind wasn’t channeling any of its usual negative energy – energy, it turns out, it picked up from paying too much attention to the media. By unplugging myself from the Matrix, I felt substantially better, simply because my mind was focused on things other than the dealings of the corrupt. I was no longer filled with anger, and I was starting to be more positive in all parts of my life. I just felt, if I haven’t made it clearly enough already, better.

Of course, after a couple weeks, I had a desire to know what the hell was going on in the world, so I started to slowly plug myself back into the Matrix. But here’s the catch: I didn’t have any reaction to the news – I read it and that was that. Well, maybe that’s a lie: I did have a reaction, but it was subdued and what I expected based on my ideology. Now, in reading the news, I have a “default” reaction to the article based on my political opinion: liberty = good, tight restrictions = bad. It’s ironic, since I started this out as a bit of a lefty. Now I’m more in the vein of a libertarian. And I’m sure the latter is my “true” view – as it was only obtained by my own thought and investigation, not via the view espoused and endorsed by the Matrix. But I digress.

At this point, my confidence was rising, and I was reading the news without any repercussions to my mental health, and life was good.

And then the ice storm came. Yes, the one you’ve been hearing about in the news (link here). I live in the worst affected part of Massachusetts, and lost all power for 9 days, losing it for brief periods 3 times afterwards. The temperature in my house dropped to below 40 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit). I was cold, didn’t have school, and read just about all day. More importantly, I learned to value the modern conveniences we take for granted – light and heat, namely. And, I was forced to totally unplug myself from the Matrix (if you’re wondering why I keep making annoying Matrix references, you’ll see in my material later. Promise).

Yeah, I suffered quite a bit during that period, but it finalized the burning of the bridge between me and the rest of the crazed world. How about that. In the aftermath of the storm, I read more, worked out more, was better at everything I committed myself to doing, was fitter, happier, and more productive (anyone who catches that reference is awesome, by the way). I wasn’t negative, but I didn’t transform into the grating optimist I hate so much. I was the same person, yet was… better. Again: fitter, happier, and more productive. Life was good. And yet, I’m here, plugging myself back in. “Why?” you ask, “Why bother coming back here after becoming a happier individual because of your absence from this place?”

And now, men and women of the jury, we get to the heart of the matter. During this period of feeling good, I still felt like there was something missing, and, with increased availability of technology, I was slowly lapsing into my previous, boring life, complete with hours spent looking up trivial information (though, not quite news) on the internet (no, not pr0n you idiots!). Allow me to digress, though I will be getting to the middle of this all.

Before, I found that I was reading articles by anarchists, libertarians, authoritarians, Trotskyites, classic liberals (what I consider myself to be), socialists, Communists, and everything in-between and I managed to agree with all of them, because all they were doing was criticizing the system. I didn’t agree with, however, their remedy to the situation; I only agreed with their diagnosis of the problem. I managed to, for a brief period of time, share in their disdain of the system. Turns out I was well on the path to the Dark Side… Remember, Yoda said:

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

And I didn’t want to suffer. My posts were so filled with negative energy that it dragged me down, and, ultimately, made me an unsuccessful blogger, because I did nothing but offer negativity. To my credit, there’s nothing I could’ve really done to improve the situation, since I called for real change (and no, not the kind that Obama’s offering), and there’s no way that my kind of change would be implemented just by me blogging about injustice in the world.

On that same note, insanity is defined as (by me, at least) “doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. I kept posting about politics and it didn’t do anything for me or for my readers. I wasn’t offering them anything valuable; my posts were like a sledgehammer of negativity, which crushed all the value that might have been contained in my post. I wasn’t helping anyone do anything – I, again, was just hitting them over the head over and over with the message “THE SYSTEM SUCKS”. And, really, it did nothing. It made me feel worse.

During this whole exile, I came to the conclusion that although the System sucked (not to be confused with the Matrix), there was nothing I could do at all to change it. That’s a scary thought (says my past self), but, I woke up and smelled the sweet smell of coffee in the morning and realized, again, that I truly could not change anything (at least, with the means I was using before). And then, I did what I thought I couldn’t do before: I let go. I let go of all feelings of the System because I knew there was not going to be a single representative to be elected in this country that would be someone I would have no qualms about supporting. And, astonishingly, it was okay with me. I am still an impassioned arguer on the behalf of my political ideology, but only if the argument comes up during a conversation; I will not create a political argument for the sake of doing so. I was just so exhausted from arguing for it before that I chilled out and stopped bringing politics into the mix unless someone else did because it was destroying me from the inside out.

And, back to why I’m here: I need to write. I need to do something fulfilling, something to be proud of, something to keep me sane while I’m not reading or working out. I need to return to the blogosphere and just network with you guys again. Except, this time, I’ll enjoy it, instead of just focusing on getting my blaring, hopeless message out to the world. And you guys will benefit from that the most.

I’ll write commentary from time to time, but only to talk theory. No current events stuff, and I’ll certainly be writing more about what I’ve been reading as well as shifting the concentration things like self-improvement and personal philosophy, with (HOPEFULLY) fiction making regular appearances.

So, dear readers, I’m back and better than ever.

Think for a second, a minute, or more, on what your reaction would be if someone, be it a total stranger or a close friend, walked up to you, and called you intolerant. Nothing less, nothing more; merely intolerant.

Would you be offended?

I’m not so sure I would be. Yet, wearing the tag of being an intolerant human being is tantamount to having the words “sex offender” stamped on the back of your t-shirt everywhere you go (hyperbole, but close enough). How did the word “intolerance” and its derivatives gain such a powerful meaning and such a capacity to offend?

I understand that people, in this age of political correctness, are afraid of being labeled “closed-minded” and not open to outside opinions, declaring them wrong without giving them a hearing. Perhaps it derives from a fear of narcissism or even individualism, where, again, the individual tends to shut out other opinions and declare his to be right (after all, what is an opinion if you yourself can’t defend it?). The main thing that the word “intolerance” brings up, in my opinion, is racism. To be racist is to be intolerant of those of a certain skin color for no justifiably rational reason, and that’s where I think the word “intolerant” received such a powerfully and decisively evil connotation.

But, for all the politically correct folks who preach total and utter tolerance of all views, I ask this simple question: isn’t what you’re telling everyone to do simply intolerant of intolerance, and, thus, hypocritical?

Who is going to pretend that they are simply tolerant of anything — because, if they have, they have truly achieved nirvana. We are all intolerant of some things just like we have inadequacies; the chief difference being that, sometimes, our intolerance can be a very good thing. This is a very fine line to walk, because that sounds like I’m advocating racism and bigotry of the highest order — but the operative word there is sometimes.

Want to figure out what you’re intolerant to? It’s easy: just take your core, fundamental beliefs, and say the opposite of that belief. Example: I’m pretty damn close to being a rationalist, so I’m simply intolerant of those who take things that cannot be proved as the truth, hence my atheism (and before anyone says you can’t disprove that God X isn’t real, it’s a logical fallacy). I’m intolerant of those who are willing to take away my freedom to speak and act, unless I have threatened their rights as well: that is called justice. Those are just two examples; there are many more, I’m sure.

The final point is: intolerance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, an intolerance of injustice, equality, authoritarianism and religious persecution is what this country is founded on. And I’m thankful for it.

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I won’t waste any words with a loquacious beginning, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the Cold War, though we supposedly “won” it, has come back to bite us, to be cliché, almost 20 years since the collapse of the USSR.

To put it bluntly: our Cold War policies of trying to to prevent the spread of Communism are the real reasons for us being at war right now (or, at least, planted the seeds; I still hold the Administration wholly responsible for getting us into these wars) — we created our enemies with our foreign policy of interventionism for the sake of stopping the spread of Communism, or, as it’s euphemistically called, “spreading the ideals of liberty and freedom and democracy”.

I’ve been over this before; in a comment (responding to a conservative) on Will Rhodes’s blog, I said:

But all you do tell us how awesome it is for us to go into nations and bomb people into liking democracy and freedom at the point of a gun, saying how wonderful “liberty” is. Who are we to police the world? Shouldn’t we be keeping to ourselves and worrying about our problems here at home rather than going around liberating people from awful governments? I’m not saying I don’t empathize with those in Afghanistan under the Taliban or those in Iraq under Hussein, but I feel like it’s their issue, and not ours. Yes, you can talk about how this nation building bullshit is all about the “common good”, but, really, is it? How many people have lost their lives because of this war? If we really cared about our troops, wouldn’t we avoid altercation at any cost? I digress. The irony is my “liberal” point of view is actually more “conservative” than your own.

It’s funny how you mention the Taliban and Hussein’s regimes as the specific reasons for us going and creating freedom for the people. Want to know how they got into power? WE GAVE THEM MONEY AND GUNS. We created the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan, fighting a proxy war there, during the Cold War. We gave them money and guns, and after the Soviet Union collapsed, those with guns assumed power in Afghanistan. Thus, we gave birth to a regime that we had to come back and kill 15 or so years later because they were too oppressive. By “liberating” the people from one oppressor (the Soviets), we created another one.

The same goes for Iraq. Saddam was put in power because he was part of a CIA organized conspiracy to usurp the Iraqi monarchy. The Baath party, helped by the CIA, established a coup, and they took control of the government. The CIA endorsed the fighting within the Baath party after they assumed power, and Saddam and his “master” quickly assumed power. During the 1980 invasion of Iran, Saddam received arms and money from our government, IE the WMDs we tried to find but disappeared. WE were the ones who put Saddam in power, and he quickly became a dictator. It should be noted that Saddam, a Sunni, was put in power to establish a balance of power between Shia-dominated Iran; there were fears that, with a Shia government, Iran would swallow Iraq. The point is, we’ve tried to build nations before, and they’ve come back to bite us 10-20 years. If we didn’t try to build nations during the Cold War, we wouldn’t be in any war right now!

Yes, during the Cold War, we did, indeed, establish nations for the sake of combating Communism. Now, we’re just engaging in nation building for the sake of combating terrorism. The latter is no different than the former; we just slap a tag on whatever seems to be the “greatest threat of our time” and use it to justify interventionism in countries that don’t want our help. As I said above, what’s the point of nation building if the regimes we erect end up despising us? It’s just a bad investment, and something that we should try to avoid, but our leaders insist on trying to expand the American Empire for no reason other than to “combat Communism” or “combat terrorism”. As we’ve seen over the past 8 years, that is no way to run a stable nation, let alone an empire. And now the country, the empire, is crashing down, mired in debt, our military stretched too thin.

Bush and his cronies thought that they could make America the next Rome. They may not have succeeded, but they are making us collapse like Rome did.

One of the greatest ironies ever — ever — is that, despite many ancient civilizations having well established religions (see Greeks/Romans, Egyptians, etc.), our modern culture labels their religions, in a loving touch, as “mythologies” — like they’re somehow less feasible than the monotheist (excluding hinduism, of course) religions that dominate the world today. The point is: what makes them sure that, say, Greek mythology is less valid, and thus earning the tag of “mythology”, than, say, Islam or Christianity? Is it because people believe in those things today and aren’t worshipping Zeus or Thor or Osiris? Whether people believe in something or not is not necessarily a good metric for the validity of a belief — shouldn’t they be lumped in the same category of “myth” because they’re based around things that cannot be proved to be true?

Now, now, I’m betting someone will probably get where I’m going with this and say, “Well, the Bible isn’t to be taken literally, so there!” Well, there are two things I’d like to say about that: the first being that, if certain things in the Bible aren’t valid and are figurative, who’s to say that anything within is valid at all, and, secondly, Greek myths were created to teach — they were parables in their own right. Again, who’s to say Jesus actually DID do all he did, and all the parables are true? They could be made up, which challenges the Bible as an ignorant man’s guide to human life and death.

So, again, what separates “modern” religions from the defunct ones? The fact that dead men tell no tales. A Christian society has dominated the West for centuries and centuries, which explains why ancient Greek religion, the main precursor to Christianity (I’m equating Greek religion with Roman religion here) has been labeled as mythology — don’t get me wrong, it deserves the tag of “myth”, but I’m simply making a point that Christianity does too. So what’s next? Will the big, bad West conquer the Middle East and, over time, label Islam a “mythology” as well?

Here’s the scary thing: I’d bet that if another religion sprang up and conquered the monotheistically dominated society we live in now, over the course of 4-5 generations, that too would be labeled as “myth” in an effort to persuade people to join the one “true” religion.

By Isaac Sampson:

I am writing this to be saying that I am quitting my job. Or, to be more precise, I am writing to quit my job with my current employer. I will continue to be a journalist, but not one that is forced to omit the truth because of the corporate powers that be — the ones that currently own this newspaper. For my dedicated readers, this is nothing new; but for those who don’t regularly check this column, you may be surprised to learn that The White Post is indeed owned by a massive corporation. These folks — Petracorp — own sports teams, own television networks, have their own thinktank in Washington, own publishing companies, telecommunications companies, and have their own senator. Yes, folks, you heard me: their own senator. Regardless of their representation in government, these media conglomerates acquiring newspapers disrupt journalistic process like you wouldn’t believe — I’ve been told many times to edit my anti-corporate stance from my articles, and have had to comply, or risk losing my job. I’ve tried, time and time again, to get the word out to people that these media giants are dominating our culture, but have been shut down — I’ve had to edit those paragraphs into pro-corporate statements. What does that make me? A shoddy journalist, for sure, working in a corrupt system. The basic premise when you come to work for any of these so-called “news agencies” is that, if your views don’t reflect that of the corporation, they won’t get published.

At the same time, we’re forced to report on whatever will generate the biggest influx of readers or viewers — and, consequently, the biggest influx of money. I’m still shaking my head over the 3 mind-numbingly boring days that I had to spend covering the murder of a 10 year old girl in Kelso, Oregon (yes, I’m preparing for the ridiculous amount of hate mail that I’ll get for saying that) while, on the other hand, the government passed a bill that violated the rights of the honest man once again — deeming it necessary that we can be searched legally without a court order if there’s “probable cause” that we’re an anarchist, or a socialist, a communist, a fascist, an anti-war advocate, a libertarian, or whatever other bunk they lump other the label “enemy [sic] of the country”. Yes, they can now lawfully seize (read: arrest) you based on evidence that you don’t like where this country is going they gathered while unlawfully watching you at your job. Yes, I feel bad for little Polly Opham, but her death, no matter how brutal it was, took our attention away from something much bigger and worse: the erosion of our rights, all in the name of preventing another attack like the famed 44 attacks in London, and the wave of “terrorism” that’s spread throughout Britain. Any rational citizen would rather listen to a story on the government’s corruption, but we can’t call it that due to our corporate ties and the corporations’ ties to the government. What do you think would appeal more to the psyche of the country: the awful, wretched story of a girl brutally murdered by her brother, or some random “security bill”? Of course, the former. And instead of doing my job and telling the people that that bill is an outright threat to our security, ironically, these guys make me collect evidence at a crime scene like all those stupid crime dramas on TV, trying to be Sherlock Holmes, without the cool factor. (continued on page A5)

“Can you believe this guy, Maddy? He’s such a liar: he chose to work on the Polly Opham case, and didn’t tell us about –” a young man, probably in his late 20’s, pen in an ear obscured by his shaggy brown hair said, a slightly tired look on his face.

A woman, about the same age, with a sharp, straight nose accompanying an equally sharp and straight jaw, turned to him, and finished his sentence, “…that hopeless paper, The Watchman?”

Both their eyes lit up, his dark brown, hers a brilliant, sparkling blue, saying at the same time, with wry smiles spread on their faces, “Ah! Power! Again!” as if they were expecting each other to know exactly what and when they would say something. They, after long companionship, had found themselves to be equal in mind — and would consistently agree with each other so often that one could probably win the lottery before observing a conflict of opinion between these two. Both had long aspired to be journalists, both had went to the same college, both had went to the same graduate school, both got a job at the same newspaper. An onlooker could surmise that simply by living their own life, that person was living vicariously through the other. Eric was Madeleine; Madeleine was Eric. They went through life as if they were connected by an invisible rope — whenever someone did or said or thought something, the other would surely follow in the footsteps of the first.

“And this bit about being an honest journalist! Hah! This man lied more than any I know, to us, to Sam, and there he declares his little crusade for truth in journalism? He was a jerk to us — putting us down, saying that we were always in our little bubble, while he did nothing but stay in bubble and put on his tinfoil hat and cry government conspiracy at every turn? And when he wasn’t doing that, he was criticizing anyone who held a higher post than he did — just because they had power.” Madeleine said in a tone of condemnation, taking a swig of her latté, and placed it back on the conference room table with a sigh of satisfaction. She absentmindedly put her hand in her great curly mass of shimmering brown hair, and twisted her hair around her finger, going, and going, without a care, without focus.

Eric broke the silence, saying in a quiet and dejected tone, as to not let Madeleine hear him — but still looking in her direction, convinced that she’d hear him anyway, “Don’t you think it’s a bit ironic though — I know of a few people who pick up the Post just to read Isaac’s column and reports, thus raking in the cash for the corporate demons that Isaac so hates. His looney brand of political opinion clearly resonates with the insane — I mean, that bill requires that those who are going to search people have probable cause, so why distort it — and Petracorp has to appeal to those people in an effort to make cash. So, Isaac was probably not fired due to his… interesting demographic, we’ll say, that he appealed to. But, now that he’s off writing for his own newspaper that’s doomed to fail, maybe he’ll realize that the corporations are a huge help for getting a readership. Now everyone’s just going to dismiss him as a looney.”

Madeleine looked at him, studied him for a moment in indifference, and wryly said, with an arrogant tone of self-assurance, “Does it need to be said?”

Eric responded in kind, smiling at her, “No. Of course you agree.”

* * * *

Alex Whister, a brilliant, if idiosyncratic 29 year old, looked up from his newspaper and saw a person standing at the entrance to his cubicle. He was lean, with constantly moving — and fearful — eyes, and probably weighed too little for his 6 foot tall frame. The lines that made up his face were rounded, and, somehow, lacked definition, making him seem extremely plain, though the workings of his mind were anything but. He finished his work two hours early every day, but didn’t clock out then — he liked to go home when everyone else went home, at 5:45, so as to not draw attention to himself. He sat at his computer, looking up quotes of famous authors and philosophers. In fact, his only decorations around his cubicle were handwritten quotes that were attached to the cubicle wall via thumbtack. His favorites, to be sure, were the famed “proverbs for paranoids” coined by Thomas Pynchon in Gravity’s Rainbow. They were pinned on the ‘cube’ wall, penned in bold permanent marker directly to his left:

“1. You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures.
2. The innocence of the creatures is in inverse proportion to the immorality of the Master.
3. If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.
4. You hide, they seek.
5. Paranoids are not paranoid because they’re paranoid, but because they keep putting themselves, fucking idiots, deliberately into paranoid situations.”

He regarded them with irony, wondering whether he was paranoid just because he identified with every single one of the quotes. He heard a sound, off in the distance, and turned to fact the person who was speaking to him.

“Alex, I was erm — reading your analysis of our profits of the quarter and it appears as though you’re missing page 13?” the speaker said with both pity and contempt. She focused her eyes on him, as if trying to see into his mind, guessing what his excuse would be.

“I — I -I’m… sorry. I’ll… get that fixed straightaway. Sorry for being a failure…” Alex said, with not a hint of the self-pity that she expected to find in him — but a trace of self-loathing. His body language told the tale: he seemed extremely angry at himself — his shoulders were raised tightly, and his fists were clenched. He took a deep breath, paused for a second, and met her gaze as reluctantly as one would accept an order to stare straight into the sun. He said nothing, as if telling her to move on, to spend her lucky time on earth talking to someone who was worth something. She looked him back as if she understood, and proceeded back to her cubicle.

He subconsciously knew that he was very good at his job — that’s why he was still employed — but he equated every misstep he made with a massive failure, something that would get him fired. Quite simply: he disliked himself because he wasn’t perfect. Though he did everything with gusto 97% of the time, he spent his life as though he expected that imperfect 3% to shine through every single time, without fail. This made him avoid taking any risks for fear of rejection: he was so sure that he’d fail that he refused to do anything other than what he got paid for, and even then, he thought he should be unemployed.

He looked back at the proverbs for paranoids. He read the fifth one again, and laughed. You fucking idiot, he thought to himself. You deliberately put yourself in these situations where you can fail. If you stop doing anything, you won’t fail…

I’m breaking the oath I made to stop talking about Sarah Palin altogether in the name of writer’s block. The undoing of all writers and artists has crept into me, and I haven’t been able to shake it — I have no new ideas, it seems. My fountain has run dry, my mind has refused to produce any new ideas and it’s killing me. Maybe it’s the stress of writing Project Atlas. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m being squeezed by life and have less time to think about anything. Maybe… I don’t know what’s causing this — less sleep may be the thing at work here. I’m getting desperate, which is precisely the reason why I had to resort to posting a video.

For the past week, blogging has felt more of an obligation to me, and less fun for me to bounce my ideas off the wall. As a result, I feel like my content has been watered down in the pressure I feel for me to produce content every day. But that content hasn’t been very productive or insightful: look at yesterday’s Dihydrogen Monoxide post if you need an example of something that was shallow and ill-written. Maybe it’s just because (depressing) politics has gotten in the way the past few weeks — especially McCain’s veep pick who shan’t be named — which tires me out and lends me a sort of cynicism (though, to be sarcastic is my nature, I don’t like to be the most negative person ever — I ride my wave of confidence). To get over my writer’s block, I feel like I’ll have to stop providing daily content, and focus on quality, not quantity. That’s what I’ll really have to do — plan out every post and give myself enough time to edit and think about my writing, because I’m not really doing that enough now.

So, with that out of the way, here’s Matthew Damon lambasting McCain’s VP pick.
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Except one: the refusal to think.

How is it that we have the largest database of information ever constructed by man — and there are those who fail to use it (or just plain can’t)?

How is it that we have a presidential candidate who can’t access said information, and encourages incompetent, rash, decision making? And brings down an educated, thinking man like Barack Obama as an elitist? Why do we have to bring down the great to make the small feel larger in our society? Why are so many people refusing to think?

Time to unveil Project Atlas:

It is, at its core, my work of fiction, and my construction of an alternate reality, trying to view the lives of my characters and their interactions with their world. As with all works of fiction, it will also serve as my mouthpiece for my beliefs and my questions and my musings about the world, probably taking away some topics of my posts in the process. I’m trying my best to make my characters as full of life as possible, while still trying to have an interesting plot — which is tough considering this is going to be a large (endless, maybe!) work, and I have no experience with things of this scale. As such, the full intent of this project is to grow as a writer, from the designs of my characters to the conception of my plotlines.

The idea is to have weekly “episodes”, of which there will be 20-something until the “season” (or current plot arc) ends. Every episode will be published here at 6:00 P.M., EST, on Tuesdays.

There will be monologues. There will be politics. There will be love. There will be romance. There will be corruption, CEOs, and journalists. There will be the every-man “cube farm” worker, as well as a self-anointed philosopher. There will be debates. There will be death. There will be life. There will be a truth-seeker. Whatever there will be, I sincerely hope you all like it — as well as having some advice for me.

Prologue (teaser post!) will be next week, with the pilot “episode” coming on the 23rd.

Showbiz

You can relax: this post isn’t going to be about celebrities and the like.

For some reason, we people, being social creatures, adjust to being in different groups of people by emulating and acting just like them, hoping to gain their favor by taking their shape. We do this (I’m guilty myself, though it happens unconsciously), also, to avoid being ostracized by the collective for “being different”, so we do our best to do it. And these groups go by another name: cliques, where the group’s members homogeneity is so pervasive that it seems to ooze through their veins, making the members virtually indistinguishable from one another from the view of an outsider.

Why do so many people who act the same, think the same, and look the same cling together? Because they probably feel like they’re able to validate their own opinions and beliefs, since they might think of themselves as the only “sane” person in the room (or universe). Or worse, maybe they’re not sure about their beliefs and cling to their clique like it’s a life raft, trying to hold onto beliefs that they suspect are false, whether they actually are “wrong” or not. The clique tends to continually support their groups actions/beliefs, and, as such, they tend to shun the other cliques, who may act or dress or think in a different way.

But, what happens when a a member of the groups becomes aware of an increasingly dogmatic and intolerant clique? They try to defect, but may not be able to because of the pressure from inside the group, who appear to be rational, kind people to those inside the group because of their exclusive and specialized nature. People who become sucked in to the group (especially “newbies” to “well-established” groups) feel pressured to stay within the group, and when eventually, the group has more power in their own minds than they themselves do. They start to think their thinking’s wrong, and start self-destructing because they come to the realization that their “friends”, those in their group, will dislike them and cast them out should they have a different view than the group at large.

Moreover, committing to a such a like-minded group erases all traces of self-esteem and, potentially, tolerance for other viewpoints. Being in a group of such like-minded folks makes everyone else’s views seem radical in comparison, which heightens tensions between groups as they get into a race to see which side can look more ignorant. I mean, if you need proof of this, look at the situation in Israel. Or the old Protestant-Catholic rivalry. Hardcore leftists vs. evangelical neoconservatives.

All over the place, in high school, college, the workplace, religion, and politics, this “showbiz” exists. The groups cling together and become intolerant of other people’s views, even if someone within their own group voices it.