“I’m not a very well-liked person” might be the biggest understatement I’ve ever written in this blog. If you’re reading my blog that means you have at least some exposure to what people call my “internet personality” which differs from my real life personality in that it is more obnoxious. I’m a guy that most people, even my close friends, can’t stand being around; it’s pretty rare to find anyone who has anything nice to say about me. I can’t really nail down the period when I went from being a guy who prided himself on being very well-liked and who had a lot of friends who thought he was very kind-hearted and caring, to being a guy who prides himself on brutal honesty and not caring whether people like what he has to say, I think it happened gradually.
I’ve come to appreciate in a way all the insults leveled at me on a regular basis because I understand that an insult reveals much more about the person saying it than the actual target. For example, I don’t mind being called an elitist, because anyone who calls you an elitist is threatened by you. While elitism is a shitty thing, I am always very flattered when someone calls me an elitist. Same way with fanatic, zealot, or extremist, I know that anyone who says something like that about me is simply a person without ideas. A person without ideas is always bothered by a person with ideas.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t insults that do hurt my feelings. There certainly are things people say that really cut to the bone. But I think the one thing that never hurts me, the one “insult” that I find very affirming, very validating and vindicating is “Loser”. I definitely think of myself as a loser and I think that being a loser is maybe the most defining aspect of my entire existence. I have been a loser my entire life and I have never wanted to be anything else.
Self-interest is such a powerful, overwhelming motivation for most people that it is impossible to really know who a person is and what they’re all about because you can never separate genuine conviction from self-interest. It is only in the moment when a person makes a decision to completely relinquish the chance for their own gain in the name of a hopeless cause when you can see their soul. On a subconscious level we understand this because we have a tendency to say that we are willing to die for things. We know that the truest devotion to a goal, a cause, a person is to say that we are willing to take the greatest loss, the loss of life, for it.
But like most cultural ideals, we merely pay them lip service. Most people are more afraid of being losers than anything else because they are motivated by self-interest more than by their interest in anything else. It takes much more character, much more strength, more fortitude and willpower to be a loser than to be a winner. It’s so easy to stand on a stage, on a platform, on a TV screen and be adored. It is very gratifying, empowering to be liked, to be loved, to be admired so most people seek out whatever thing in life that they can be good at, they gravitate toward behaviors that come with social approval. They look to be liked and in the process they neglect what’s important.
We see this a lot because our culture knows the power of the loser. We look to losers as the greatest examples in literature of love (Romeo and Juliet), philanthropy (Jesus Christ), of psychotic dedication to a goal (Captain Ahab). These are all people who die trying to fulfill their goals. The loser has incredible power, he has the unbreakable strength of personal fulfillment. He is not persuaded by worldly gain, he is not moved by promises of money, influence, or sex. He is not interested in praise or his own lionization. We as a culture have a love/hate relationship with the loser. We profess to admire people who go down hard for their beliefs, but then we immediately turn around and kick the next loser we can right in the teeth.It feels good to be a winner, and it puts a terrifying sinking feeling in your stomach to stand on the edge of a cliff and stare down and know that if you jump ain’t no one gonna come save you. There is no happy ending for the sincere. In Great Expectations by Charles Dickens the main character Pip is tormented by a malicious love interest for the entirety of the novel. Charles Dickens originally wrote the novel with a sad ending where Pip never ends up with the girl he’s loved his whole life. In the end however, he changed the ending to a happy one. The idea of Pip coming out a loser was too scary for even Dickens.
People only want to take a risk if they’re sure that they’ll come out on top. They hedge their bets for safety and this is where they show their weakness.
I am used to having really unpopular beliefs and because I can’t ever keep my mouth shut I’m also used to constantly arguing about those beliefs. I tend to phrase my beliefs in such a way that people who agree with my beliefs still want to argue with me about them. One of the most common things that people say to me when I argue on behalf of things like veganism is that I can’t possibly be right and even if I am right it doesn’t matter because I’m on the losing side. I’m in the minority and that means I’m a loser.
Nearly every serious endeavor I’ve ever taken on in my life has been a losing battle. Nearly every woman I’ve ever been romantically interested in has turned me down. Besides writing, every hobby I’ve ever taken up has been something I’ve been terrible at. I was bad at slam poetry, I was bad at ballet, I’ve been bad at all the musical instruments I’ve ever played, I was bad at all the languages I tried to learn, I’m embarrassingly bad at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but regardless I train six days a week because I think it’s an important thing to do. When I claimed Edge ten years ago it was a really unpopular decision, and ten years later it has become really unpopular all over again.
People work very hard to convince themselves that they are passionate about ideas but they’re never willing to be on the losing side of something just because they believe in it. They want to have their cake and eat it too, they want to believe in an ideal but the idea of having to go down with that ideal is too scary so they bail out when things get rough. It’s shallow to always want to come out on top. Every couple wants to be Romeo and Juliet but they aren’t willing to die if necessary and they don’t realize that the thing that defined Romeo and Juliet were the fact that they were willing to lose everything.
People want to be winners because they’re afraid to be losers.
I take every risk expecting to lose and I almost always do.