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Shorts, Volume 1

This is a collection of things that I think about, but that I haven’t yet developed into full-fledged posts, or that just don’t have enough meat to warrant a separate post.

Worthless and Weird

Isn’t it weird how many things are being done that bring very little value to anyone? Consider someone who buys a home, in order to rent it to someone else. Why? What is the point? That person brings no value to anything, they could cease to exist and it should not impact anyone. Why is there such a pointless “man in the middle”? Sure, a landlord deals with things like repairs and upgrades, but it’s not like they do the work personally. They just hire others to do it, which the person living in the house could do themselves.

The only benefit such a person offers is their money. The person living in the house can only do so thanks to them, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to afford the place. But why? Everyone needs a house, or education, or a justice system, or healthcare (which are all human rights), so why can very few actually afford those things? Why is there a need for banks, rich people and other intermediaries?

And even that “benefit” has its problems. I mean, everyone has money – it is required by society in order to live. Everyone also has things to spend the money on. It’s just that the average person’s money input and money output are so close, that saving for something like a house is a Sisyphean task. But if someone has enough money to afford a house even after paying their basic needs, and in a reasonable timespan, something weird happens. They rent the house and eventually get their return on investment, getting more money than they’ve put in. These kinds of investments, which generate money, are by and large available only to those who already have a fair bit of money, at which point getting more money doesn’t really impact their well-being. Everybody has stuff, but the rich, by the “virtue” of being rich, have access to stuff that generates money simply from owning it, making them even more rich. The world is screwed up, innit?

Checking Privileges

Various different people have different ideas of what privileges are. Some people react to the idea quite poorly, and I think it’s because they have a warped idea of what privilege is. In my opinion privilege is not something bad or good, but “a state of being that affects how you approach different situations”. It’s good to be mindful of privileges because it can expose biases and holes in your reasoning, and point out interesting ways in which you think.

For example, due to the content I consume, and the fear of the dark I’ve had for an unreasonably long time, when I walk around the house at night I have a tendency to imagine unsettling entities out and about, like an SCP-3199 standing outside the window and looking at me. This is, in a way, a privilege. The reason is that I basically never imagine a burglar or a trespasser. It’s always some deformed, terrifying thing, a figment of my imagination (and my YouTube watch history). Because the place I live in is very peaceful and robberies and such are basically unheard of, I get to let go of earthly troubles and let my imagination have a go. This is, in a way, a privilege, as someone living in an area with lots of crime might worry about their safety in their home in a way that’s not as preposterous. So I have a privilege, but it’s not a bad thing that I have it, nor is it a good thing. It’s just a combination of different aspects of my life, a state of my being that affects the kinds of thoughts I have.

Privilege is also very dependant on the society and culture where it occurs. A white person living in the United States will have privilege because of a large population of racial minorities that are exposed to various forms of racism. But in Belarus, for example, where 99.99% of the population is white, the concept of white privilege loses meaning, because if everyone is privileged, then nobody is. If privilege is just a state of being, then that means things like black privilege and gay privilege also exist. And in a way, they do. Being black in the US does give you a view of the world that your white peers may never get. Being gay exposes you to things your straight peers might not even notice exist. It’s just that privilege is often associated with positive things, so while being trans might give you a unique outlook on life, getting to know all the ways in which being yourself can become a nightmare because of people being assholes isn’t the most glamorous of things, not exactly something people strive for.

An addendum to the above is that a privilege relies on a sort of comparison, which is reliant on some sample size. So when I say “being gay”, I really mean “being gay in a heteronormative society” (a society where being straight is the standard). “Being black in the US” is very different from “Being black in a black neighbourhood”, because the different sample sizes specify different social standards that the comparison is being made to.

Ol' Musky

I don’t like Elon Musk. I mean, he may be pretty cool for all I know, if I sat down and talked with him, I might have a good time. But I really dislike the cult of personality associated with him. He has a large following, and likes using it to fuel his goals and interests in a very transparent manner. When privacy activists encourage people to take care of their data for years, nothing happens. Then, Musk just tweets “Use Signal”, and Signal’s server go down from the sudden influx of new users. He gives no arguments, doesn’t link to any articles, says nothing of actual value, but people still follow his words like it’s their holy book. Every journalist feels the need to mention the most minute of Musk’s activities, his Twitter feed is a treasure trove for clickbait articles. The massive lead-up to the Gamestop Stock rise in early 2021, the ensuing political debates and reactions from both sides, all of that interesting stuff can only get so many clicks, after all, but any article on the matter posted after January 26th just has to have an entire paragraph dedicated to how Elon Musk wrote “Gamestonk!!”. He’s trying to be hip and cool, and in many ways he’s succeeding, but it’s likely just a form of deceptive advertising. Elon Musk is not a person as much as he is a product, a billboard that has all the eyes on it. Seeing people lap it up with scantly any self-awareness is very disheartening and, frankly, pisses me off.

Why the World Doesn't Work

There are a lot of problems in the world, and the thing is, many people know how to fix them. They just never do. Someone may be all about supporting local communities and businesses, but when the time comes to go to a gathering, or to buy a slightly more expensive product in a store instead of on Amazon, the principles seem to turn into guidelines, at best. Someone can be all for veganism, but when their housemates keep bringing and making meat dishes, it’s surprisingly easy to just join in. Very few could reasonably disagree with Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save, and yet giving more than a few dollars you happen to have left over is such an inconvenience, such a bother, and just keeping the money for yourself is barely something others will disapprove of you over.

Likewise, socialism is the politics of the working class not just because it doesn’t benefit the rest, but also because anyone who is in the working class and manages to get out of it quickly changes their tune. Someone may be all about that equality and redistribution of wealth, and “fuck the rich”, but the moment an opportunity arrives to make some nice money (and screw over the less fortunate), they will have a hard time saying no. Maybe that’s what happens to all the “progressive” politicians, when they gain power...

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