Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Do Americans Have Attenuated Wills?

I have been thinking about human will and the effects of mainstream news and entertainment. I suspect the broadcasting model attenuates human will, stunts it, so that people either have little to no will of their own, or they develop a caricature of will, which is usually notable because there is an element of self destruction in it. The reason why I started thinking about this is because there is a point where you have to decide what your goals are. For a long time my goal was losing weight, so I stayed on a low carb paleo diet and used the techniques found in the Shangri-la diet book to keep my appetite down. Then I lost weight, but had strong dieting habits which started to cause me problems. I didn't have much energy until I figured out whatever I did I needed to make sure I ate more.

For various reasons I got into the gym and started working out. Goals become a huge issue when you are working out, and I saw how tempting it was to adopt the goals of whoever I was listening to. If I actually did adopt other people's goals, I wouldn't get what I wanted, which is metabolic headroom- i.e. I am in the gym to increase my ability to deal with life outside of the gym. I have a few aesthetic goals too, but they are congruent with the larger goal.

Now, if I listen to a powerlifter, I can find myself tempted to train and eat like a powerlifter. Good powerlifters are good to listen to, because they have decades of knowledge about how to train, but adopting their goals would likely end badly. Powerlifters have to eat and get pretty heavy in order to lift heavy. So, they can lift 800lbs, but the extra weight they have on them means extra wear and tear in everyday life.

Then there are the injuries. Whether powerlifter, bodybuilder, or even runner, athletes seem to take injuries as normal; surgeries are simply part of life. I am sure their surgeons are happy. Anyway, these discussions are all podcasts, interview driven, and they are not as produced as mainstream media was, so I end up getting good information without being conned the way I suspect I was before.

I suspect I was being conned before because recently, after a long time of not watching very much mainstream stuff, I watched a few movies. I seems to me they trade hard on having people adopt the goals of whoever is supposed to be the hero, or at least the protagonist. Part of the nature of the experience is that you are just sitting there watching what other people are doing, so it is inherently passive. Then there is the additional tendency of encouraging some version of the collective- U.N., starfleet command, military, whatever. If that fails, over rely on pretty people looking petulant, as if they actually need you to feel sorry for them.

Movies end, and whatever effect they have on us fades over time, but I can see how keeping up a constant stream of this stuff could be detrimental, especially if you assume, as I do, that finding a way to have meaningful, productive labor in this world is important. There is the world at hand, the small, mundane world, in which people plant things, and wait for them to grow, and then there are the lies, where you can imagine yourself a world changer, but little to nothing happens at all, or something destructive happens. This occurs in Christianity too.

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