On Consequence

I don’t know where to even start.

Literally, I’m a little to literal for my own good, sometimes. But currently I’m the kind that feels like a too-drunken mix of XTC trying to be the Beatles, and a guy sitting cross-legged in front of a laptop, believing in his own relevance and simultaneous insignificance.

I put words together good sometimes.

I have thought increasingly about process. Which I think at this point is more or less completely redundant, but also totally a propos of where I am right now. I fucking love that word.

Honestly, I may just be a reaction formation to the current state of the world, but I see the process/consequentialism issue as a big part of it. Because, I don’t know about y’all, but America is all sorts of consequentialist. I don’t find its behavior even a little surprising, given that context.

But I imagine you don’t geek out over philosophy quite as much as me, so let’s break this down: A consequentialist is someone for whom the Means are always Justified, if the conclusion is. Like, as long as you save the damsel in distress, it doesn’t matter that you had to mutilate some random civilian’s arm.

In fact, it’s a central conflict in shows like The Shield, Justified, and is more or less the entire problem with both DC’s initial attempts at a Cinematic Universe, and their systemic problems. They’re so focused on a certain result, that they don’t care how they get there. But how they get there is not only the entire process of fucking existing, but it’s also how you do it right.

We live in a culture that emphasizes greatness at such a sickening pace it’s impossible not to feel inferior by proxy of a facebook account, which 2/7th of the world currently use. We see examples of greatness, and we all want a piece o’dat sweet ass pie of feeling significant. I know I do. I’m no longer so conceited as to believe that it’s humble to say “Nah, I just want to do good”

Significance is a legitimate and thorough desire, and the pursuit of it drives human behavior to an absurd degree.

But now, in an age where you can basically get whatever you want if you pay the price, consequentialism has taken a huge step forward…with all its attendant bullshit.

But you still don’t really know what I mean. So let’s maybe change the example to something more relevant to you.

Let’s say you want to start a youtube channel, and you want to make monies off it. But, you don’t want to actually do any of the really significant leg work, you don’t want to study, and you don’t want to make anything really meaningful. This sounds like a silly example, but it isn’t.

Or maybe what you’re interested in is so niche, it will never be seen by three people (clears throat expectantly): you can choose to be patient, and build up a base. You can make meaningful content. You can learn and grow, and change and be a generally compelling human being. You can fail, and fall apart, be prone to doubt.

Or you can pay some bots to view your shit, and get you significance thrill that way.

One is difficult, and time consuming, and not guaranteed. The other costs money, but you achieve exactly what you ask for.

That second one, it’s bullshit.

But it’s how we do things in this culture. These days, having a million views is almost as valuable as how you got them. For every guy like Chris Stuckmann, or Jeremy Jahns, who put together meaningful interesting content about the shit that interests them, you have some douchebag who just paid to have his views upped, because he wanted a million views for some non-meaningful video. Sure, you’ll never hear about that guy. But he also has no reason to grow, and barring some straight dick-head level idiocy on his part, he’s not going to disappear.

So now we have this theoretical guy who has not been given the exact feeling of significance he sought. Now what?

If he’s anything like the rest of the internet, he’ll start believing he deserved it. And he will continue to seek to enable his opinion. He will enable himself continuously. He will use confirmation bias to the point of absurdity, and then make no meaningful progress towards anything.

But he felt significant.

And this extends to so many other things, and I get why: life never stops moving, that’s its key feature. People invent shit, or come up with mindblowing discoveries. I recently learned the Voynich manuscript has finally been figured the fuck out. I wanted to do that. I’m straight disappointed.

But this kind of philosophy is grating. It places the object over the subject; it is the equivalent of creating a shitty sentence composed of reality; and reality has it backwards.

When the object takes precedence over the subject, then human suffering, lasting design, and meaningful contribution are all things that are functionally irrelevant. I want to remain significant, and feel good, so I will withhold my true feelings on things; and, instead, I’ll share some meaningless platitude of the moment justifying everyone else’s deeply held opinion that I’m scared to challenge because, hey, I like my friends, and I don’t want to lose them, because my thoughts differ from theirs.

Consequentialism makes the capital sin a mistake. Because being amoral in pursuit of your goal — if the goal is worthy enough for society — is A-Ok. But being human? Being prone to failure? Making a mistake? No, you can’t do that.

You can’t fail honestly, and build, and make yourself better, when you have an objective goal. You can only succeed.

You’re not allowed to not know what to say, or be confused. You’re not allowed to believe that the solutions presented are not binary; that you can choose patience and nuance.

Not everything needs to be now.

But, then again, what do I know? I’m a guy who prefers fucking up, and growing.

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