the mainstream cult

Imagine that there is a popular culture which is so pervasive that most people do not recognize the various presumptions, doctrines, and dogmas which are standard in that culture. When people talk about how things should be, that is definitely it. When people make sweeping comments about how things really are, that is probably it, too.

You and I have been deeply influenced by it and so have your family, your classmates, your coworkers, and your neighbors. If you get frustrated about their fanaticism, that is it again. You have been programmed to expect all these fanatics not to be fanatical. Plus, you have held to that expectation fanatically.

So, the existence of your own familiar culture is most apparent either when interacting with someone of a very different cultural background or with a very young child. Have you ever been annoyed with how other people raise their kids differently than you? That is it again.

The key issue is annoyance. Under that is actually embarrassment.

If you were just an honest snob who preferred your culture over all others, then you would not be annoyed about violations of your cultural expectations. You would just be disappointed and dismissive with no drama.

The drama is all about distracting others from your embarrassment. For instance, if you can’t believe that so many people voted for a political candidate that you dislike, is that simply disappointing or is it a trigger of embarrassment and shame (and you can’t wait to tell “everyone” and “justifiably” ridicule the “ignorant fools”)?

That is a display of loyalty to your favorite subculture. You justify condescension because “those people are part of OUR culture and they should KNOW better?!?!”

At least, that was a popular presumption within your subculture. It was so popular that, surrounded by others loyal to that subculture, we avoid actually exposing our favorite presumptions and dogmas to, well, reality.

So when reality does not match the dogma, then drama erupts. And it is like we have no control of it. The drama just pours out like juice out of a squeezed lemon.

“How could reality be so disrespectful of my presumptions and preferences?!?! This is so embarrassing. Reality is so arrogant that it seems to think that I should update my presumptions just because my presumptions and reality do not match. I am furious with… whoever I can be justify blaming for this annoying and embarrassing tragedy.”

Sometimes there are actual tragedies. There are things that can trigger overwhelming grief (as distinct from guilt and rage).

But I remember once when I was pretending to be grieving and I was actually relieved. Two cops were standing in my kitchen (waiting for me) and one said to the other “did you see how relieved he looked?”

That “set me off.” I was furious. Why?

The circumstances were hugely stressful, but familiar. And those circumstances were shifting. And I was SOOOO relieved.

But I was not “supposed to be” relieved. I was supposed to be grieving.

So I politely invited the cop to refrain from undiplomatic chatter with his partner. Only I might have used a few curse words… and it might not have been polite or an invitation.

However, my display of fury worked. He “zipped his lips.”

I was simply embarrassed to be so relieved. They saw that I was relieved, which apparently surprised them. (If I said more about the background, then their surprise plus their relaxed chatting with each other might make “total sense,” although I will leave out any further details here.)

But me being relieved was not itself a problem. Me being embarrassed to be relieved was not itself a problem. Them talking about it was a problem for me. There were not only three people in the house at the time (the two of them and I) and for me to safely “escape” was favorable. For them to talk about me seeming relieved was more than annoying to me. It was terrifying. It was an indirect threat to my safety.

So, they zipped their “loose lips” and the situation proceeded as would be expected. The cops were apologetic and kept quiet.

I had instructed them in my cultural expectations and they conformed. Whether or not I was relieved, their official version of the story would be “it was all a bit tragic, but not especially notable.”

Or, maybe it was the end of something tragic and a new beginning. Maybe it was a huge relief… but YOU better not say anything about that unless *I* bring it up first.

Anyway, you know how millions of people are complaining about how “our culture should not be how it is?” That is, once again, just them displaying fanatical loyalty to a popular presumption.

Our culture is however it is. You can pretend it is a particular way and then filter your perception to maintain a fanatical glorification or fanatical vilification of it. You can respect it. You can be open to discovering it. You can appreciate it. You could be proud of it.

Or you can be dominated by it and chase the persona of the holy rebel who heroically makes it from how it should not be in to how it should be. You can even attempt to prevent any other cultural patterns from advancing.

We can post memes and parade down the street with signs that say “our culture should not be how our culture should not be.” Then we can argue with the fanatical idiots who mindlessly chant that “our culture should be way more like how our culture should be.”

Neither of those two groups are really doing much to cultivate any particular culture. However, maybe those folks are just relieved to be surrounding themselves with “like-minded” folks. Maybe they do not actually have a spontaneous surge of grief over a tragedy. Maybe they are just looking for justifications to display a particular emotion that they have been “nursing” (nourishing) for a while.

And that is all fine. A snob may “look down” on people “being dramatic.” We might even be impolite and condescending, but we won’t be especially interested in most other people’s opinions… because we are actually snobs. We are not just pretending to be like so many others (who then get all upset that other people do not agree with them and congratulate their superior culture).

Oh, and yes we know that in certain cultures it is hugely popular to say that the worst thing that someone could ever be is a snob. For us to quietly prefer our practices is a huge insult to those who are certain that their own sense of loyalty automatically obligates *everyone* to either fanatically support their favorite position or at least respect their position enough to fanatically argue and ridicule their favorite position. To generally show no interest in their opinion or even to dismiss their favorite issues as insignificant… that is a rebellion against the entire system of divide and conquer controversy that is programmed by popular media!

“Don’t you even watch TV? Don’t you know how popular this controversy is? Everyone has a strong opinion about this issue!”

Yes, I even have the TV on right now as I type this. Yes, I know that controversy is suddenly very popular, at least on certain TV networks. No, I do not think it outrageous how biased certain networks are lately. I do not think it is even unusual.

I’m not especially addicted to being outraged. How about you?

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