A quick and dirty heuristic for staying sane

We live in an age of domestic information warfare, everything is ideological propaganda. The nature of the ideologies is such that they lay down for the true believer a distorted map of reality that is more akin to the mental map of a paranoid schizophrenic than a sane person. Ideological propaganda is unconcerned with the search for truth, it is only concerned with making the true believer feel good about himself and demoralize the miscreant.

The “good feelings” generated by propaganda are:

  • Fear, which adds an element of drama to an otherwise boring life.
  • Anger, which besides excitement can be particularly intoxicating if it is righteous anger.
  • Schadenfreude, pleasure in the misfortunes of ideological enemies as they get what they deserve.
  • Pride, rooted in one’s moral or intellectual superiority.
  • Excitement that one is on the winning side.
  • Excitement that one possesses arcane knowledge.
  • Hope that victory is assured.

All these emotions give little dopamine hits making us addicted to the (insane) ideological thought pattern. We keep going back to the thought patterns or to the source of propaganda the way we keep going back to a pack of cigarettes.

No one has time to investigate the claims behind every news item, published study, or twitter meme. The ideal way to stay sane would be to unplug from electronic media and focus on real human relationships, work and healthy hobbies, but few of us have the the strength of will to unplug entirely.

That means quickest way to stay sane in an insane age is to be very suspicious of any of the above feelings.

One comment

  1. buckyinky · · Reply

    Very good post.

    “…but few of us have the the strength of will to unplug entirely.”

    Not sure it’s a matter of will, at least not for everyone. For many I suspect they would love to unplug, but prudence holds them back. Like Frodo and Sam wearing the filthy orc habits through Mordor, they find it necessary to risk disease (of the mind, will, etc.) in order to have at least a shot at trekking through the world without succumbing to quietism or forms of despair.

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