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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

On Jadism

The idea behind this post started the same as any other.

I was pursuing the educated and well-informed opinions of the Urban Dictionary--

when I stumbled on this gem. The term was "jadism," a made up Internet word that my spellchecker keeps insisting I spelled wrong. The term "jadism" simply refers to the concept of being jaded. One might ask why the word even exists, or what purpose it serves, when the word "jaded" already exists, but I think it's a more than necessary word that needs no justifying.

I've always held the belief that words serve a vital purpose, in that they enable the user to grasp abstract concepts.

Take the word "Fissileg" for example. The German word refers to when a normally competent person is being watched and nagged so closely that they get flustered and annoyed to the point of incompetence.

The whole "I can do it when they aren't watching" concept. Anyone who's ever been even remotely self-conscious about job performance and has experienced an overbearing boss has experienced "fissileg," but there has never been a word in the English language to describe it. That doesn't mean that it couldn't be explained in English words (as I have just done), but it would take a long-winded explanation instead of a single word, and the existence of a word immediately justifies its meaning.

Oftentimes if there's a word for a certain concept, phenomenon, or feeling, we naturally assume it's because it's common enough to warrant a word describing it.

One funny example is the Indonesian word "Mencolek," which is when you tap someone on their opposite shoulder when someone is standing next to them to make them think the other person tapped their shoulder.

That might sound oddly specific and not at all worthy of its own word, but it's not some Indonesian thing. When I was in middle and elementary school kids did this to each other all the time, and California is pretty different from Indonesia, so it's fair to assume a lot of kids do this joke.

Unrelated but here's a funny comic strip I like:

Let's just pretend it doesn't say "Buzzfeed" in the corner.
I couldn't find it anywhere on the Internet no matter how many variations of "light falling through leaves word" I googled, but there's a word in a foreign language (I think it might have been German) that refers to what you see on the ground when light cascades through tree leaves onto the ground. You know, the leaf-pattern shadows.

Why doesn't English have a word for that?

Anyway, if a word exists, it must exist for a reason (if it's actually used by anyone, at least), so the mere existence of a word makes its meaning prevalent. With fewer words, we grasp fewer concepts.

One quote that's often attributed to Einstein (but if you do the research, virtually every single "Einstein" quote was actually said by someone else, including the famous "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" quote, which was actually found in an old book of Narcotics Anonymous. Another quote that every uniformed monkey on the Internet attributes to Einstein is the famous line, "Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it's stupid." That line was actually stolen from an obscure self-help book written by Matthew Kelly. In fact if you see any picture of a famous historical figure and a quote next to it, the odds of it being that person's quote is less likely than you winning the lottery or me getting a book deal) is the line, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand the concept well enough."

Einstein never said that, he never said anything close to that, but it's a good line--a true one, at least.

Although it's not merely the ability to explain something in a certain amount of words, but being able to explain it in as few as possible; and the fewer words there are available, the harder it becomes to describe things that we partially understand.

Just for shits and giggles though, let's have a look at some other famous historical quotes.

Alright, back to the subject.

"Jadism" is a necessary word because the quality of being jaded is an increasing epidemic. I myself often fall prey to the noxious cloud of jadism that permeates every corner of America right now. I blame twitter--that steaming pile of dogshit is nothing but a circle-jerk of outrage and apathy. The caustic culture of scandals and outrage has reached a toxic critical mass that I thought only 4chan and Tumblr were capable of, but I digress. I just like bitching sometimes, I'm no better than the people I complain about. I mean there's an obvious hypocrisy when someone like me bitches about people constantly bitching on the Internet, but at least I'm self-aware so that makes me better somehow.

Although I think twitter is the byproduct of a larger systematic issue, that being "outrage culture." You could surely make a case that "outrage" is extremely different from "jadism," and you would be correct. What I'm saying is that outrage leads to jadism, or at least to more outrage. The Immutable Law of Internet Outrage (which I just coined) states that when a person or group of people reach OCM, or outrage critical mass, only one of two things can happen; either they continue to be more and more outraged for perpetuity (SJWs), or they become jaded and apathetic (doomers).

Although there is certainly a lot of in-between; SJWs are always outraged and doomers are always pessimistic and think the world is hopeless.

When people who aren't SJWs see all the constant outrage and absurdity on the Internet, things said and done by real people, they naturally come to the conclusion that the world is fucked and they might as well stop caring. Although, there are some who reach a revelation; that being that not everything warrants outrage nor does everything warrant apathy.

Two movies that encapsulate these ideas perfectly are Falling Down (1993) and Office Space (1999). I think one of the reasons I didn't like Joker (2019) was that it felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy, and was too dramatic in how it portrayed his backstory to the point of being stupid. I think Falling Down and Office Space do a much better job of portraying the same idea. That being that regular adult life is absolutely soul-crushing for most people.

Obviously not everyone hates their job, but certainly more than a healthy amount of people do. I wouldn't expect a perfect society where everyone loves their super fulfilling job, that's just not going to happen; but one would have to be extraordinarily out of touch to think that most regular people don't have to deal with the stuff in Office Space and Falling Down. While some aspects were obviously exaggerated for comedy, most of the things in Office Space were real-life examples. In fact the movie was so influential that lots of people wrote to Ron Livingston telling him that they quit their soul-crushing cubicle job after watching the movie, and lots of managers and office supervisors were offended by the movie and would punish employees if one of them put an Office Space poster up somewhere in the office because it was seen as an insult or a sign of rebellion, but of course the irony went right over their heads.

Many people don't know this, but TGI Fridays used to do the "flair" thing that Joanna loathes so much in the movie. For the uninitiated, in Office Space there's several running gags, and one of them is the "flair." Basically the employees at Joanna's diner have to wear a certain number of colorful buttons called "flair" to "express themselves." Joanna wears 15 different buttons on her uniform, which is the minimum amount of flair, and her condescending boss keeps passive-aggressively telling her to wear more flair but each time she says "So you want me to wear more buttons?" he says something like "Well, 15 is the minimum, but do you really only want to do the minimum?"

Apparently this stupid trend was something that lots of places forced onto servers and waitresses in the 90s, and after Office Space came out TGI Fridays removed the flair rule that they had in place. One customer asked what happened to the flair and a waitress said, "It's because of that Office Space movie."

Passive-aggressiveness is something that runs rampant in the American workplace. It's one of the most odious and abrasive aspects of working in many jobs. Any young person who's ever worked food or retail has their share of this experience, and the movie does a great job in making parallels between Joanna's job and Peter's, even though he works in computer engineering and she works in food. Even though their jobs are completely different in essentially every way, somehow they have the same condescending PoS as a boss.

In my Cartoons post I mentioend Squidward as an example and I think that still holds up. If you pay attention to the old reviews of the movie when it first came out, a lot of people didn't like Office Space. Most people didn't really get it; the humor didn't land and the pacing seemed off. A lot of people thought the movie was boring, and it didn't do well at the box office.

But then, after five or ten years give or take, it had a cult following. Where did the following come from? Well, Spongebob holds the answer. What makes Spongebob click for millenials is that when  we watched the show as a kid, we were Spongebob; but when we watch it today, we're Squidward. The episodes that aired during those first three seasons haven't changed, but we've changed enough to see it through a completely different lense.

Yet, Office Space did this on a much bigger scale. When people first watched the movie in theaters in 1999, it seemed almost like a boring documentary on office and the humor didn't make much sense, but now all of American society has become just jaded and sick of their mundane lives to get it. Several of the various reviews I watched for the film all said the same thing--something along the lines of, "I watched this movie 20 years ago and didn't like it, but I watched it again today and I lvoed it."

This sentiment comes from the fact that mundane and underployment (soul-crushing jobs that anyone can do, regardless of skills; things like holding a sign outside, being a telemarketer, going door-to-door to pass out Mormom pamphlets, retail cashier, etc.) jobs have expanded enough for most average Americans to understand what it's like having a Bill Lumbergh for a boss, or getting chastised by a coterie of sterile, talentless hacks who make one figure more money for 1/10th of the work, or working at TGI Fridays and having some condescending 22-year-old lecturing them on not having enough flair because of some arbitrary rule on wearing buttons.

The movie was so accurate in its portrayal of the uninspired and insipid workplace that hanging an Office Space poster in your cubicle was seen as an act of defiance or rebellion, and a lot of employers banned it. You can tell it hit close to home if that many managers felt personally attacked by a movie poster.
"Hey, uhhh, listen, buddy... about that poster in your workspace...."
Just to make this clear, this post is in no way anti-work or anti-workplace, just those types of workplaces. You know the kind; the ones where you feel your spirits crushed beneath a grindstone of monotony and failure.

There are definitely good ones out there, but it sure seems like they're becoming scarce. Some polls say as many as 85% of people hate their job, which seems a little too high to me, but others say 70% which sounds completely plausible. Are these numbers anecdotal? Surely, yes. Many of these polls only involve a couple hundred people or less, sometimes not even that. I've seen dubious claims made by "professional and reliable" polls that, turned out, to only be a poll of 30 people who live in the same neighborhood. Hardly a good sample size.

That being said, around 70% sounds more than reasonable. Odds are if you were to round up 10 of your friends from different age groups and ask them if they hated their job, at least five would probably say yes (assuming you don't all work at the same awesome company or something).

I've seen pretentious answers on Quora (don't even get me started on those pseudo-intellectual a-holes) claiming that most of these people don't hate their "job," they just hate one or two aspects of their job and conflate their dislike for those one or two aspects with dislike for the job itself.

But if you see where I'm going with this, that doesn't add up--and it just so happens Office Space explains why.

First we must look at an imposing philosophical question; what is your job? I mean, if you have a job you probably know what it is, but if someone saying they hate their job likely means they actually just hate one or two aspects of that job and not the job itself, then what would a person need to hate in order to candidly say that they hate their actual job?

Is it the work itself? Is it their pay? Is it their coworkers, or the customers they interact with? Is it the difficulty of the job? Or maybe the traffic en route of the job?

Well, as Office Space kindly points out, every job exists in gestalt. You see, one may argue that you don't hate the nebulous vague concept of your job, just that one aspect that annoys you; but if that one annoying aspect makes up 80% of your experience at said job, then I'd argue the mere fact that you're exposed to it 80% of the time means it's an integral part of the job itself.

If that sounds like gibberish (which it kinda does in my head), just watch this short clip which summarizes everything perfectly.

Every single moment he spends at work he has to listen to the receptionist repeatedly saying, "Corporate accounts pay-able Ni-na speakiiiing, just a moooomeeent."

One could argue that the annoying receptionist is just one aspect of the job, and that hating that part of the job isn't the same as hating the job itself, and to that, I have but one rebuttable:

If you change one nail on a ship, and all else is the same, is it still the same ship? Yes? Well, what if we also changed a broken plank? And if yes, how many nails and planks have to be changed before it becomes a new ship? If we changed every single wood plank and nail on a ship, so that every single part of the ship is gradually replaced, is it still the same ship? And if not, at what point does it become a different ship?

Now let us ask this question with jobs; if hating one aspect of the job isn't the same as hating the job itself, how many "aspects" of the job must one hate before they hate the job itself? Two? Three? Forty-seven? All of them?

The thing about Office Space is that Peter hates every aspect of his job. The commute, the work itself, his boss, his schedule, his coworkers, all of it. He says in one clip:

So what about that? If you consider each day at your job to be the worst day of your life, does that indicate the person hates their job? If we assume the answer is "yes," then what if they're utterly miserable everyday at their job, but it's not literally the worst day of their life? Does that mean they don't actually hate their job? I'd say living in misery is more than enough to say they do.

What if they don't live in misery everyday of their job, but most of the time they're miserable there, and the rest of the time is only OK? I'd say the same thing--they still hate their job.

You get the picture. The problem with the "it's not the job itself that they hate" argument is that no one could say for certain what the job itself even is. Couldn't one say that jobs are greater than the sum of their parts, and can be described only by the overall experience of working there? If that's the case, then hating that experience is enough to say you hate your job.

Now, it's not just jobs that do this--although I believe underemployment and bad jobs are a major culprit. This is because jobs and school are pretty much the only constant factor in most peoples' lives, so if one or both of those things are awful experiences, then that person will be in constant misery.

Although the titular protagonist Peter does say one interesting thing that really caught my attention; there's a funny scene where he goes into extreme detail about how he spends his time at work, saying that he usually comes in at least 15 minutes late, always takes the side door to avoid running into his boss Lumbergh, and usually spaces out for an hour or two before lunch followed by spacing out at his desk after lunch too, but it looks like he's working when his boss swings by. He says that he only does around 15 minutes of real, honest work any given week, and when one of the Bobs asks him why, he says, "I'm not lazy, I just don't care. If I bust my ass and the company ships out a few extra units, I don't see another dime. So where's the motivation?" He goes on to say that the has eight different bosses who swing by his desk to lecture him any time he makes the slightest mistake, and that his only motivation is not being hassled, but the flaw with that is that people will only work hard enough not to get fired.

Probably one of the best examples about the vacuous, all-consuming parasitic nature of massive corporate jobs is the entire character Milton. At one point they discover a glitch where it turned out he was getting paychecks even though he was supposed to have been laid off ages ago, so they "fixed the glitch" (meaning he stops getting paid) but didn't tell him he was laid off, so he keep coming to work and doing things for them without pay for a while.

Obviously this is an exaggeration for comedic effect, but I think it captures the sentiment pretty well.

I think Squidward said it pretty well.

When faced with the unwavering wall of apathy that is the general workforce, it's easy to become jaded and cynical, although the Urban Dictionary™ has something interesting to say about it.

It states that jadism and zeal aren't incompatible, but that, in fact, the two compliment each other wonderfully.

You see, left to their own devices, jadism and ideological zealism would destroy themselves. There are other things besides jadism that can balance out zeal, as discussed thoroughly in my Solipsism post, but there isn't really anything else that can keep jadism at bay other than zealism. Zealism is inherently an optimistic trait, in that the strong, continuous pursuit of an ideal requires at least some faith in it as a possibility, whereas a purely jaded person would think it all hopeless before they even began.

That is why we should strive to be jaded zealots, as the two work in tandem in ways that few contradictory ideas can. The trick is not to be so zealous that you're crushed by your own failed ambitions, but not so jaded that you don't even try.

The sweet spot is when you're just jaded enough to be funny. Any more than that and you reach Doomer territory.

The Urban Dictionary defines a Doomer as:

A more enlightened update of the incel. Where the incel is chronically alone, and projects his hatred onto women, the doomer has accepted his equally alone fate without resentment. Instead of bitching he listens to Radiohead on evening walks.

Usually in his 20s, the doomer is typically unemployed or doing a dead-end job, tormented by unrequited love, and alienated from most of the population; and this sense of personal aimlessness and despair seeps into his views on the world in general. So he lives in constant despair for humanity's future, with the prospect of ecological catastrophes and economic downturns tormenting his mind. To dull his sense of Weltschmerz he smokes, or drinks, takes drugs. But nothing can quite take away the dread that the doomer constantly feels towards the future. Hence his name.

He is the inheritor of a long tradition of being jaded with the world, and adopting this as a consistent worldview: he looks and nods at those that deny life: Hegesias of Cyrene, the Buddhists, Schopenhauer. But as a product of the modern world, he couldn't pretend that there is any ultimate spiritual redemption at the end. So he can only deny, deny, deny.
After she left him forever, he sat down, despondent and empty. But he mustered up the energy to put on his 90s playlist; and when the guitars from My Bloody Valentine's Loveless screeched their first note, he knew he was now a doomer.

This is how you look after taking a black pill.

I'd say the Doomer is the modern-world equivalent of going Hollow, a concept in Dark Souls where one loses life purpose and becomes a wandering shell of flesh.

That being said, the avoidance of going Hollow, or being black-pilled, or a Doomer, or whatever you'd like to call it, doesn't necessarily mean you want to go around serving up smiles.

It's more of a cautionary tale or constant lingering reminder that this is what awaits those who aren't careful enough to keep their optimism stored away in a safebox. as the alternative is either becoming a Doomer or... serving up smiles. The majority of us would probably rather avoid both of those outcomes.

At any rate this post seemed a little bit rambly, although I have some interesting tidings. So one things that's happening with Desolation's Reach is that it's going to contain a few semi-self-contained short-stories. What I mean by "semi-self-contained" is short stories that initially seem completely unreleated to the main plot, and almost seem to take place in a different universe altogether, but then turn out to have a tangible connection to the events of the main story after all.

This won't be making the story much longer, however, because I found a few sections that I can safely cut out that I probably won't miss much, so overall the story's length will be about the same after the short stories have been implemented.

Anyway time I wrapped this thing up,

and as always,

may all your cups of tea be your cup of tea,

and I'll see you in the next post.

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