I was recently trolling someone on Reddit, and in a brief (and regrettable) fit of passion I made a remark only I could love about “transcending the bullshit”. I have often repeated that I intend to one day publish a book titled “Everything is Bullshit”, in honour of the late David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs, but extending to pretty much all facets of society.
Once you’ve experienced enough of the world, it becomes impossible to unsee or unlearn the various levels of bullshit that exist everywhere. In startup land you’ve got VC bullshit, in the retail investor world you have finance bullshit, in day to day life–like for example at the grocery store–you’ve got nutrition bullshit, politican bullshit, marketing bullshit, corporate bullshit, capitalist bullshit, technology bullshit, Christmas bullshit, …
“What is bullshit?”, you might ask? For that I will refer to “On Bullshit”, which provides the most succinct definition of bullshit I’ve found:
bullshit is speech intended to persuade without regard for truth
Anyway, I like to think I’ve lived enough to realize how only a small number of things are true about life and the world:
- everyone is nearly the same, regardless of language, culture, or religion or skin colour or whatever
- everyone wants the same things in life: safety, security, a strong sense of community
- everyone is generally kind and generous provided you are kind and generous
- everyone is inherently selfish in their behaviour and that’s not bad (I’d argue the only truly non-selfish act is suicide, but that kind of talk gets you banned from places)
The one exception to things above are those who are literal psychopaths or sociopaths, but they are very rare (they do exist however I and have spent time with them; often they are CEOs or high level managers).
The fun thing about realizing the degree to which everything is bullshit is that you can now transcend the bullshit, look past it, and play the game at a higher level. I have personally found that once you cut out the bullshit, people are not only more respecting of you, but they will see you as more authentic. Some extreme bullshitters, however, abhor the anti-bullshit rhetoric and even take offense to it, but I have found this only occurs in cases where people suffer from extreme propaganda belief (as in, they believe the lies to be truth because an “authority” told them it must be so). Additionally, the best liars tend to be those who actually believe the bullshit they are spewing, thus they are inherently anti-anti-bullshit.
The first step in recognizing bullshit is to reject authority, and realize that no one person is above another regardless of corporate title (a made up thing) or political position (another made up thing). All these things do not exist in nature, and as the stoics would say they go against nature.
You can usually detect bullshit by analyzing incentives. Once you can properly recognize the bullshit, you can transcend the bullshit and reach the next plane of bullshit-free existence. I invite everyone to join me up here, it’s pretty nice.
PS: If you’re a book publisher and you want to help me publish my book “Everything’s Bullshit”, LMK thanks. I await your email.