Step One: Get Over Yourself
I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am still an asshole. Just not the kind that starts wars on Facebook. Anymore.
I still lose it sometimes elsewhere, but I’m working on that too, realizing how deeply emotionally and psychologically traumatized so many of my adversaries are, particularly the ‘woke’ with whom I regularly do ideological battle.
I’ll admit my reasons for toning myself down are more selfish than altruistic: Life is much more pleasant when you’re not an easily-triggered asshole.
I’m still an asshole in many other ways, but I do go through life less prone to ‘losing it’. When I get emotionally triggered the reaction is more choppy-day-on-the-ocean than The Perfect Shitstorm.
If you haven’t tried this anger management thing, I highly recommend it. It’s awesome! It takes awhile, I admit, and requires a lot of lurking with assholes. I call it ‘exposure therapy’. The masses call it ‘Twitter’ or now, ‘X’.
When your brain’s limbic system is ‘triggered’, the more primitive part of your brain (go figger) overrides your more modern cerebral cortex, where logic and thinking reside (or are supposed to anyway). It’s slower to react than the limbic system’s amygdala, the brain’s drama queen that stores a lot of memories of every awful thing anyone ever said and did to you. It’s also where your fight-or-flight instincts reside, and when it goes into hyperdrive, it gets ‘hijacked’ in neuro-scientific parlance, or in layman’s terms, ‘goes totally apeshit.’
So, your stupid sister makes another nasty crack about the size of your ass or some anonymous coward shares a ‘funny’ meme (ha ha) making fun of a breastless ‘transman’ and your amygdala goes into righteous hyperdrive.
It literally happens before you know it. Then right after, maybe you feel badly about the way you reacted, if for no other reason than you gave your sister or that other dipshit the satisfaction of knowing they got to you.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just put your cortex front and center, since your amygdala is such a freaking nutcase?
I mean, yeah, you need your amygdala’s whip-crack reaction for when a polar bear is about to eat you (probably not a problem in your area, but I live in Canada and they theoretically could come down to Toronto and turn me into human sushi). Your ‘myg keeps you safe, for the most part.
Then you get on Twitter or Facebook or you get the latest news on Trump’s alleged and confessed crimes, and you turn into a flaming asshole.
So here’s how I’ve been working on reducing my Inner Asshole.
Lesson #1: People who disagree with you aren’t necessarily evil
Something had to give.
I’d started another fight on Facebook, I forget over what. Politics, most likely. I don’t expect others to agree with me but if they say stupid shit, my amygdala goes nuclear.
But now I periodically remind myself:
I don’t know everything.
I’m not the ultimate arbiter of morality. Or reality.
My opinions aren’t 100% right just because they’re mine.
Once I got over my boundless expertise on everything, I could…
Lesson #2: Expose myself (silently) to genuinely stupid people
Once I recognized I might not know everything, I had to acknowledge there existed others who were unquestionably, demonstrably, indisputably wrong. This is where exposure therapy to Twitter, Ground Zero for emotional shitstorms and those with the self-awareness of a clam, came into play.
I lurked on Twitter but responded to nothing. No matter what I read. I found the people I couldn’t stand the most and read their dumbass, awful, racist, misogynist, soulless, anti-American, scumsucking tweets and tweeted nothing.
At first I could only do this for a few minutes. As soon as I was just DYING to set some hyper-moron straight, I went, “Okay, that’s enough, let’s go read a book.”
I hung out with terrorists, incels, victim feminists, SJWs, racists, overprivileged black people, gun owners, pacifists, science deniers, tightassed atheists, Democrats, Republicans and Trump groupies. I’m triggered by everybody.
Eventually I could disengage at the sight of a truly abysmal opinion. My brain rewired to just deal with it. These blobs o’ water and goopy fat between our ears are ‘neuroplastic’, meaning they constantly wire and rewire, and we have more control over that than we know. Particularly in regards to getting angry.
It’s a choice, you come to realize. When our ‘myg gets hijacked, the cranial slop controls us, not the other way around.
I stopped to think before I posted on Facebook. Sometimes I’d be deliberately provocative, but now I paid attention to phrasing. I’d think, “Am I ready to take the shit for this one?” Who was most likely to get mad? How much did I really stand behind this opinion? Sometimes I’d hit Post and think, “Tomorrow night, remember not to get hijacked by the responses.”
The next evening I’d stop, take a deep breath, and think, “Remember, respond calmly and rationally.”
I mostly did. One night I got blindsided by an angry comment I wasn’t expecting. My amygDalai Lama reacted, this time with a mildly pissed wave rather than a spike. That’s when I knew I was making real progress.
Lesson #3: Rethink the news
I concluded something else: The news, which I’d cared about almost all my life, had to go, or at least I had to stop reading CNN. It served little purpose other than to turn me into an asshole about people and events I couldn’t affect.
But, I believe we have an obligation as citizens to keep up on what’s happening in the world. Further self-examination into my triggered reactions revealed that my two main news sources, CNN for American news and the Toronto Star for Canadian news, while mostly factual, were both too emotionally slanted and biased, and just reading the headlines could spike both my brain and blood pressure.
Really, was it news anymore when Donald Trump polluted social media with his very existence?
Even worse, he worked to destroy democratic institutions with cheerleaders in cheap Chinese-manufactured red ball caps, and flags they used at night to wipe their butts when they were out of U.S. Constitution toilet paper. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Except vote, up here in Canada.
Bye-bye, CNN and Toronto Star, you hysterical drama queens!
I’ve replaced both countries’ news media with less biased, less emotional primary sources.
Life without apeshit
I still get mad. I still get triggered. I especially can’t stand having to define ‘woman’ for the freaking brain-dead ‘progressive’ left.
The benefits of training your brain not to be an asshole — and remember, it is a choice — are multiple:
No more anger spikes that leave you pissed off for twenty minutes (the average length of time it takes for your amygdala to just freakin’ chill, dude) or longer if you’re the type who just can’t let something go.
Reduced susceptibility to heart attack, depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, and not getting invited to good parties.
You choose your words more carefully and start fewer fights.
You can virtue signal to yourself that you’re less of an asshole than those other assholes.
You get a lot more done and enjoy greater relations with your loved ones when you’re not saying things to trigger them.
Random assholes you don’t know don’t bother you as much. Fuck ’em.
I still piss people off. I still sometimes say and do the wrong things, or react in anger. Then I think, “Why did you let him/her/them/it get to you?”
Good question to ask yourself: Why do I care?
For sure, I’m no Pollyanna when it comes to expressing my opinions, which remain controversial in some circles. I’m okay with that.
But, I’m not pissing people off as much, and I’m okay with that too.
And sometimes, they get pissed off because I stated a truth backed by evidence that contradicts some narrative they hold.
Reality. Deal with it, mes amis.
Assholery for the masses
Being an asshole has become so commonplace it’s practically the national pastime. Our last president was a world-class asshole and we can’t say we didn’t know; he became a popular reality TV star being an asshole who fired people for our entertainment. Everyone who ever knew him or worked with him (or, God help them, for him) in New York knew what an asshole he was.
It’s entirely possible his handful of supporters that bothered to show up at the courthouse in New York for his first indictment was only because everyone else was still pissed he’d never paid them.
He appeals to a large swathe of assholes in America who’ve collectively decided democracy sucks and authoritarianism is better.
They’re challenged and resisted by assholes on the left who hate everything about them but nevertheless agree with them about democracy and authoritarianism.
I meet new people and I’m immediately on guard in case they’re assholes. Will they yell at me or walk away for being an asshole who said something they didn’t like?
How can you be comfortable with someone when you’re worried they might suddenly turn into an asshole? I mean, assholery is the real pandemic in North America.
I’m careful what I say on social media because I’ve been deplatformed three times and counting by transactivist assholes who thought I was an asshole for challenging their narrative. (Assholery is in the eye of the beholder, after all.) And one asshole tried to get me in trouble with my employer.
Friendships break up and family members become estranged because some asshole holds a political opinion the rest of the assholes in his family disagree with. But future generations can perhaps avoid this tragedy by reading a book called How To Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes.
A new university is fighting back against widespread academic assholery by putting truth before DEI and ‘safetyism’, making honest debate, critical inquiry, and rational thought central to what it aspires to offer: A good education, which should scare legions of student assholes whose constipated view of the universe may now go challenged by reason-wielding assholes.
We have to fight the assholes ruining the world. We have to stop the Asshole Revolution, beginning with the Asshole Within. Because we can’t be the problem we seek to solve.
I urge you, if you haven’t already, to get over yourself and stop being an asshole, kind of in the way Christians ever-strive to be more like Jesus. We, too, can ever-strive to be less of an asshole than we are.
It’s probably unrealistic for me to believe I’ll ever reduce myself to Dalai Lama-levels of assholery, but I’ll settle for Oprah-level. I can die peacefully if I can believe I’m only an Oprah-level asshole.
I hope you want to stop being an easily-triggered asshole too. If you can’t do it for others, do it for yourself.
Like a selfish asshole!
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