On Avoiding Toxic Inputs

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Life is precious. Time is sacred.

People who seek to influence the world in a particular direction know that to be able to capture one's attention and get people to spend time doing particular activities are their biggest weapons.

This works with both healthy and with toxic inputs.

Think about the things you spend most of your intellectual and emotional energy on and what seems to be at stake. Remember that kid with the MAGA hat who smiled at the Native American in that video last year? It likely wasn't on your mind until I mentioned it just now. And yet, it was everywhere for two weeks after it happened. Many people, in their reactions to it, likely fell into three categories: some people wanted to strangle the kid. Others thought the people who wanted to strangle him were insane and preposterous. The third category was just sick to death of things like this becoming news and spent the same amount of energy as the other two categories talking about how, 'I can't believe this is what we've come to!'

It probably felt really important to say something about that kid at the time. We all knew that he or the situation itself was only a symbol for something much bigger - a tribal battle that we are all locked inside. Every time an absolute no one online or in a news clip says white babies should be aborted or that we should give more jobs to Americans rather than sending them abroad, you could or often still can expect two weeks of outrage on all sides and outrage in reaction to outrage.

But here's a cheat code: You don't have to live in that world.

In fact, there's not a culture war going on.

Rather, we are living in a war culture.

Violence never goes away. We just form clever ways to allocate it in directions that benefit specific projects. It's always about power.

People of all different political affiliations love to bash the Mainstream Media. Karl Kraus made people well aware of its toxicity over one hundred years ago. But when was the last time that most alternative media made you feel all that good either? With rare exceptions, most of it serves to take your money from you in a more direct way.

There's an entire alternative media industry that makes its bread and butter through Left Watch - a sort of right wing, center-right or libertarian right counterpoint to a lot of Fash Watch you constantly see on the left. Here, the Paul Joseph Watsons, Stefan Molyneauxs and Steven Crowders of this world exploit the paranoia of their viewers in exchange for financial and moral support by zeroing in on the latest freak news to come out of the left, whilst spending inordinate amounts of time explaining how communism is coming or how racial hegemony is important for functional democracy. Every systemic problem is categorically explained as 'leftist,' simply because they have no definition of leftism save toxicity. I don't think they are liars, honestly. I think they are as paranoid as they want their viewers to be, and lucky for them they have the audiences they do, because they isolate themselves from the world in the way they engage with it.

In the examples mentioned above, as with many others like them, they are not toxic due to a lack of facts. Rather, it is their interpretation of what is happening in the world. It is the conclusion they come to when they use this data. Specificity is the enemy of Left Watch - as it is with Fash watch - as it is far easier to create a megalithic super-structure of an enemy into which everything one doesn't like or one feels threatened by can be thrown into. This makes it easier for the audience to feel like they are part of the solution, as they are free to throw their own unfavored variables into the same big pit as co-creators with their favorite sources of alt-entertainment.

While Paul Watson may have little to offer once he's done bitching, he serves as a gateway to someone like Jordan B. Peterson, who makes everything just spiritual and mystical enough to give his audience the illusion of sustenance. In reality, all his carping on against postmodernism actually does him a disservice, as postmodernism would actually be, in reality, a better intellectual ally to his position when trying to criticize the type of political hysteria he often does. (It has been noted by very thorough observers that Peterson doesn't actually know what postmodernism is).

On the other hand, you have media like that produced by the folks at the podcast Chapo Traphouse, which people felt offered cutting-edge cultural critique in an irreverant, humorous tone. While they can certainly earn points for being big on laughs, upon close inspection they are similar to much far left commentary in that they require one to be familiar with so much ideological nuance that it can be hard to decipher just how much of it is calculated to alienate the audience to scare away all but the in-crowd and how much of it alienates merely because they are out of touch with people who don't share all of their very specific ideological convictions.

Attention is a powerful tool. When someone is adept at stealing it from you, you may start questioning your own experience. You start asking, is it possible to belong to this new hip community if I would just tweak a few of my convictions in order to see reality through their ideological filter? You might say it is quite easy to ignore moronic YouTube channels or podcasts you don't have time to listen to anyway, even if you like bits and pieces of what they have to say or share certain of their feelings for particular ideological enemies. However, when the stakes are higher, it can be much harder to hold your claim to your own attention.

For instance, think about the 2015 mass shooting in Paris at the Eagles of Death Metal concert. It was certainly a horrible tragedy, but how, as a consumer of media and information, am I to take a tragedy like that seriously when people give the same level of attention and outrage, if not more, to a man no one has ever met who happily applauds his president's election in an airplane?

Per Rene Girard's philosophy, it could even be argued that the nail bomb that went off at the Ariana Grande concert was the absolute best thing to happen for many people's self esteem around the west. It gave them the chance to put up tacky pictures on their Facebook profiles about unity and standing with England (who are adept at voting to destroy their own country anyway), feeling 'solidarity' with the victims and those close to them, which is really just a way of saying you'd like to personally benefit from the violence without having to help those harmed in any direct way.

By all means, one should be informed about what is going on in one's surroundings. That's just a feature of survival. However, if you're constantly exposed to messages that tell you that the world is ending or that a specific ideology that requires the alienation of most of the world is the only answer, it may be time to rethink how you're spending your day.

If you're not a detective, if you don't work for the CIA, you don't need to go looking for the most robust news clip of the child crying or the woman covered in blood. One can still be aware of how things are moving on a global scale without getting stuck in the details that are only ever broadcasted to you in order to sell products or get you subscribing to vain capital franchises.

Am I offering a quietist solution? Hardly. I am simply arguing that it is a great piece of modern deception to assume that exposure amounts to lightening the burden. You help nothing by tweeting about every damn tragedy that happens. As a matter of fact, you make it worse. And that's only tragedy. Just think about how much worse you make things when you're dealing with what passes for current events today. People in MAGA hats make news just by appearing in certain public places. Every time a dumb college student that never would have been able to get into a major university fifteen years ago says something about how all men should be castrated, people get up in arms when they would do better to smile or ignore them.

It is still possible in today's world, I beleive, to ignore most things.

They don't concern you.

You don't have the big guns or the Taken-style skill set to go looking for the bad guys.

Perhaps you think your particular brand of attention is enlightened. God hears your prayers quicker than those of the mothers and fathers of the fallen, perhaps? He doesn't.

Taking on the burdens and sins of the world is folly and vanity. People who try to constantly turn our attention to 'the enemy' are traitors to the sanctity of time. People who tell you that you're a victim should be on absolutely every 'no entry' list until the only place for them to go is an island prison.

Your whole life is a challenge, not simply to survive, but to thrive. I haven't even gotten to the personal challenges that face you when it comes to avoiding toxic inputs from people around you in your day to day life. But one should start with the outer crest - the big bad world outside that you're paying so much attention to is the escape world you fight against in order to avoid the toxic outputs in your everyday life. If you can't shut them off, how are you ever going to shut off the negative inputs in your day to day life. Start with the inputs you can control the easiest which are, ironically, based around the things in this world you can't control.

Once you feel you've gotten rid of the things that hold you back mentally and emotionally, start eliminating things and people from your life that hold you back. Negative people have to go. They will find other people to commiserate with. Trust me. Negative people always find each other because they're good at creating more of each other.

Stop telling yourself a story about yourself you don't like anymore and become the hero of a new one.