Nov 7, 2020
Content warning: Politics
I went on my first Bumble date yesterday. It was a friend date though, not a date date. I found a girl who said she was interested in psychology and philosophy. Intrigued, I swiped right. It was a match! We talked about books we’ve read. She was reading Crime and Punishment whereas I was reading A Streetcar Named Desire.
I was immediately excited. I had read Crime and Punishment in high school and I enjoyed it immensely. It was one of those books that stuck in my mind. It also reminded me of The Rebel by Albert Camus. I feel like it’s a stretch to compare The Rebel to Crime and Punishment but they both speak to the human nature of feeling like your situation in life is not living up to your ideals.
Camus says when people rebel, they rebel because they are not satisfied with something and they are expressing some sort of value. In their minds, whatever they do is justified. In Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky’s main character Raskolnikov commits a crime because because he feels alienated from society. It is an act of rebellion against the society he despises. Flimsy connection, I know.
Jordan B. Peterson
Anyway. The girl suggested we meet. I agreed. Then she dropped the bomb that she liked Jordan B. Peterson.
I do not like Peterson.
That made me hesitant about meeting her but I decided to go ahead with it anyway. I kinda wanted to know what is was about Peterson that spoke to her. She linked me a 12 Rules for Life video and I kept it running in the background as I did work. The rules themselves don’t seem bad (although I take issue with rule number six: clean your house before you criticize the world) but his arguments supporting them did not speak to me.
Immediately after listening to the video, I put on Contrapoints’s video on Jordan B. Peterson (I had forgotten she made this video, I remember watching it not really knowing who Peterson was). I think what Contrapoints makes as a great point is that his self help psychology is a “trojan horse for a reactionary political agenda.”
Peterson is not only known for his life coaching but he more famously known for his politics. When he was against the C-16 bill (Peterson said that facing consequences for refusing to call people by their preferred pronouns was violating his right to free speech. No, Peterson, that just makes you an asshole), incels and anti-SJWs (remember when calling people SJWs were a thing) flocked to Peterson.
With that in mind, I mentally braced myself before meeting up with my BFF Bumble date. I’m no debater and I’m pretty agreeable so I just went in with an open mind, fully expecting not to do any rebutting.
There were a lot of things that we talked about (okay, she mostly talked about them).
- Self improvement and self help books (obviously, Atomic Habits and Seven Habits of Highly Successful People came up)
- The effect of Peterson’s self help videos on her and her brother
- Polarization of American people during the election
- Violent rioters and protesting (I did not tell her that I went and protested with my local BLM movement)
- BLM just victimize themselves without doing anything
- People should not rely on the government
- The government doing everything is not the solution (cue “socialism is when the government does stuff” clip)
- Modern day feminism is fighting for equality that already exists and the wage gap is logical because of biological differences between men and women
- What is truth and manufactured consent (this was the one thing that I actually brought up)
- Equality of opportunity not equality of outcome
- Equality is garbage because there are hierarchies everywhere (I don’t understand Peterson’s fascination with lobster hierarchies and man do I need to read David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster because I want to know if he has similar views, DFW don’t let me down please)
- Communism is bad because it killed people
- Differences between the West and the East (a lot of collectivism vs individualism talk sprung out of that)
- Agreeableness (I felt called out)
- Anime (I hear so much about HunterxHunter that I just have to watch it now)
- Miscellaneous personal stuff you would expect to talk about on a first “date”
I’m sure there were more topics we touched on (man it was a loaded two hours). I did not agree with her on most things. But there were some underlying themes that I did agree with her on, which were the things I managed to comment on (bipartisanship, not trusting the media, needing to solve the education problem, how polyamory is not for me).
Not going to lie, I was seething during the first half of the friend date. But as I listened to her… I don’t want to say that she started to make sense but I understood where she was coming from. I still didn’t agree with her and I do not have the balls nor the communication skills to offer any arguments to her points. But I could feel that she was not malicious. Maybe a little ignorant, but not malicious.
One thing that we do quite often in politics is dehumanizing “the other side.” The left does it. The right does it. No one is really immune to it. I think we do this because we are insecure in our own beliefs. If we make the other side feel like an enemy, we feel more self righteous because we’ve attached our own sense of morality to it.
However, there is one thing that bothered me through the conversation. As someone who leans left, the talk of collectivism being bad and individualism being good did not rub well with me. I couldn’t pin point it though. Capitalism generally espouses a “me first” attitude. I find it highly individualistic. Collectivism can be toxic as it usually instills a sense of shame in those who do not fit the mold. But I don’t believe the collectivism that she is against is against individualism. Also, it seems that focusing on the indivdual also can make you feel isolated and depressed because it cuts you off from the warmth of potential community. It left me confused. I’m still trying to read theory so I can get a better grasp on these things.