Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Surviving the Stupid

I have recently given up one of my fantasies (not the threesome with Winona Ryder and Kelly MacDonald). I have given up my dream of living without having to deal with incredibly stupid people.

It is a noble dream. It’s one I know is shared by many good people. We all enter that quest to be free from the stupid, shiftless and insane, but such a place does not exist. It is a curse of the human condition that we are subject to the grotesque imperfections of other human beings. That these imperfections seem to become more extreme and grotesque as probably more evidence of our own maturing wisdom than a larger decline in the population’s brains, though that is probably falling fast.

We yearn to reach a level of life where we can avoid having to be nice to people who are jerks to us, but no matter who you are or how successful you become, no one can ever avoid this.

For example, ask most people who the most powerful person in the world is and they’re like to tell you it’s the President of the United States. Even the President of the United States has to spend a large percentage of his time being nice to stupid people or people who are being boorish and rude. People say rude things at campaign stops, political donors expect to be thanked repeatedly; Congressmen and Senators want to get their photo taken with you even after they don’t vote for your budget, and foreign leaders make insulting spectacles of themselves at photo-ops. We’d like to think that if we were President we’d have the guts to tell everyone, “Fuck you, I’m the President, bitch,” but we wouldn’t. We can’t even tell off our boss when they do something stupid and fucked up; we need our jobs.

And all of life is just like that. We’ll never be as free as we want to be. Unless you live off the land as a hermit in the wilderness, you will have to deal with assholes and idiots that you have to be nice to at some point. And I’d imagine that in the wilderness you have to deal with asshole bears and mosquitoes and so forth.

We all dream about being able to spit in the asshole’s drink, put bananas in the tailpipe of their car, or manage some kind of stealth technology that will visit much-deserved misery on our tormentors and leave us unscathed. That also, is a dream. There are some fine pranks that are worthwhile—the Upper Decker, for instance—but these revenge fantasies carry big risks for potentially little reward.

But really, you can shelve those fantasies for the most part. Maintaining a stoic dignity will be a better revenge than anything you can think up. Deny them the small victory they scrape together by being a pest and affecting the lives of others, and you rob them of the perverse negative pleasures that make their pathetic existence more bearable.

Living among the stupid is one of the curses of being an intelligent, decent human being. It is a universal curse we all share, it’s all a matter of how we deal with this and navigate the obstacles it puts in our path.

It will be tempting at time to give in, to go along to get along and embrace stupidity and play to ignorance. Don’t. Be willing to be alone in the world. Having your eyes open means you won’t like much of what you see, but being smart and in the know is its own reward, sometimes it’s only reward.

No comments: