The Case For Being An Uninformed Citizen

The Case For Being An Uninformed Citizen

How much of your time do you spend thinking about politics? 

Me? I'm ashamed to say how much time I spent listening to political podcasts and YouTube channels in the past few years. I thought it would make me a respectable person who could hold conversations at cocktail parties. But I was just kidding myself - I don't even like drinking. 

For some time I actually thought having that type of knowledge was important. I often agreed when people said that "the government affects you whether you like it or not so you better pay attention to it" and "the world would be a better place if more people got involved in politics."

I now think paying attention to politics is a waste of time and mental energy, especially when you think about the opportunity cost.

I can say for a fact that my reality would have been the same, if not a lot better, had I never payed any attention to politics. In other words, if I never knew what's going on in the Middle East or even who is my current president, my life would have been no worse. I simply don't think those facts will ever become useful in my life other than for trivial purposes. 

Sure that information may convey that something bad is going on, but it does me no good to know them. Just like it does me no good to know that a dog just got run over a couple blocks from me. It's a huge bummer, but there's nothing I can do and therefore no reason to know. In fact, it would have been better to not be aware of the k-9's tragedy because knowing such a thing only makes me depressed and unfocused. That's a net-negative for society.

Even if knowing a little bit about what's going on at the national level can be useful, shouldn't it be proportionate to your control over it? For example, spending 20% of your time learning about what's going on in politics is irrational if you have an almost-non-existent power to do something impactful with it. 

While it may be important to be aware of the government's laws and policies at a basic level, very quickly we run into diminishing returns. That point is when we watch the news like a drama show every day and keep up with the president's tweets.

I don't know about you, but I've noticed that the people that pay the most attention to politics have less control over their emotions. You can see this with the people that went out of their minds when Trump won because they thought the world was coming to an end. Their mood is beholden to the political climate.

The thought of paying attention to what Trump is up to and getting mad over it is just absurd. There's nothing the average citizen could do. Voting comes every 4 years and even then your vote has virtually no impact. So just stop wasting your time and focus on things you do have control over.

If anything, elections makes people more passive: it fools them into thinking that they're making a difference in the world just by voting. 

Young people (particularly college students) are the ones who should ignore politics the most. They still have a lot to improve about themselves before they spend (in my opinion waste) so much of their time trying to save the world through politics. As Jordan Peterson would say, "they need to sort themselves out first."

People should measure all of the time and emotional energy used on arguing and fretting over politics and compare it to the actual impact that they have had with it. I think if they did that, most would immediately give up on politics and take on a more cost effective endeavor for themselves such as bettering their immediate environment. If everyone did that I believe the world would truly be a better place. 

My Moral Philosophy

My Moral Philosophy

Intuitively, we understand that if we can get the same results with either violence or non-violence, then the method of non-violence is infinitely more moral. To clarify, here are some examples of goals and how they can be met with and without violence:

  1. Getting a girl -  I can kidnap one and trap her in a well Buffalo Bill style, OR I can make myself appealing, ask her out, and allow her to voluntarily choose to be with me.
  2. Getting a kid to do chores - I can threaten to hit him if he doesn't do it, OR I can negotiate or make a game out of it to help him want to do it.
  3. Bettering the education system - I can take money from people against their will and subsidize public schools, OR I can work for, create or support companies like Praxis, which make education cheaper and more efficient.

Notice that the peaceful solutions require more work and creativity. On the other hand, violence is an easy, one-size-fits-all type of tool. It simply doesn't require much critical thought, work or patience.

Do you want something done but you're too lazy, incompetent and/or sadistic? Well, have I got the perfect solution for you: violence.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that corporal punishment is absolutely necessary for this or that when they haven't even read a single book on peaceful parenting. 

The lack of research is even more egregious when it comes to people advocating for government force. That's because people get their belief in government through social osmosis instead of through critical thought. Even people who don't care at all about politics are absolutely, 100% sure that society would collapse without government coercion. It's almost as if they were taught by schools run by governments. Oh, wait.

It really bothers me that most people argue for corporal punishment and institutionalized violence as if they've personally ruled out every voluntary option. It bothers me even more that those people are usually the same ones who claim to care about people. 

About 70% of the U.S. population still endorses corporal punishment and the love for government coercion is as popular as the love for hamburgers. Do you think all of those people thoroughly examined their options before reaching those conclusions? Especially when I consider how little critical thought is promoted in schools, I doubt it.  

The fact is, most people reach for the sword way too quickly. I attribute this to laziness, incompetency, and/or sadism. I mean, just think of the three violent scenarios I gave and see what applies with what. It's actually a fun thought experiment. 

Whatever the reason is, I don't think it's an excuse. If people support violent solutions when they didn't even look for voluntary alternatives, I think they are being immoral. So, here's my general rule that everyone who does not want to be immoral must follow: 

If you haven't properly searched for peaceful solutions, your default position should NOT be that a violent one is necessary. 

(Of course, this is provided that you have the time to assess your options - I'm not suggesting, if a crazy guy ran at you with a knife, that you stop and think of every course of action before shooting him)

Doing merely some research is not enough. To do this properly, I recommend that you thoroughly test all proposed peaceful solutions. I know, it sounds like hard work, but you should be happy to have a high tolerance before resorting to violence. If you don't have that then I'm afraid you may have a bad case of authoritarianism.

Notice how, with this moral rule, it is easy to not do the wrong thing. It is just as simple as not advocating for or committing violence when you don't know enough. You can literally do this in your sleep! 

If you're a person who has supported or committed violence without satisfying this rule, you probably want to demand that I show you a peaceful solution before you let go of your belief in the violent one. While I could probably point you to a non-violent alternative to some situations, the truth is that I shouldn't have to. 

That's because the burden of proof is not on me, but rather on the people that claim that the ONLY way to get something done is through force. It's not up to the girl to prove to me why I shouldn't kidnap her. If I belt a child to get him to do chores, it is not up to him to justify why I shouldn't have done it. The same goes with me demanding forced redistribution of wealth. I'm the aggressor, so why should the victims carry the burden? Sadly this simple truth of who should carry the burden of proof has been tragically ignored.

Okay, now that you know these things, there really is no excuse. Like I said, all you have to do is drop your support of violence until you do the proper research. That is, if you don't want to be immoral. Luckily for you, there are people out there that have devoted their whole lives to finding peaceful alternatives. Every resource imaginable is easily accessible to us by the power of the internet. So, go out there and explore. Once you let go of the limiting idea that violence is necessary, you might be surprised by all the possibilities.