It’s an interesting exercise to reflect on your life and your decisions. Especially the way you choose to treat and view those around you. I’m now thirty-five years young. And, being old(er), truly does bring a sort of wisdom and perspective. I assume when I’m in my fifties I will have even more of both. But for now thirty-five years is all I have. So it is with that experience, wisdom and perspective that I make an admission: I’ve been a gigantic, narcissistic asshole for the better part of my life.
This personal reflection and honesty came about as a result of self-analyzing my internet interactions. They were, largely, me being humorous. Usually in a way that only I would find funny. The only goal being to entertain myself (I said I was a narcissist). Sadly, I was humorous in a way that would be impossible to detect by those I interacted with. Mostly because they had never met me in real life. I say this not to apologize or seek forgiveness. As I said: I’m a narcissistic asshole. I say it because it’s the truth and, for likely selfish reasons I would like to change this behavior. That’s why I declared 2016 to be the year in which I would become nice.
So in the immortal words of DJ Hugo, “be nice to people!”
Now, there is no way you should get that reference unless you’re a very select few people on this earth who happened to be DJ’s or Board Members at WCNI in roughly 2002. So, for the sake of brevity, just assume that DJ Hugo was probably wrong and the rest of us, who were currently on the phone interviewing Richard Hell, were right. But, since I’m not an asshole and there is no “right” or “wrong” we have to look at the situation from all perspectives. While some of us were currently doing something we found super important (like interviewing a God Damn legend), we were not thinking about how it bled into DJ Hugo’s Latin radio show. DJ Hugo doesn’t know Richard Hell from a hole in the wall so he’s obviously not thinking that he should pipe down. All he knows is, he serves a community that relies on his weekly three hours of salsa and he sure as hell better deliver. Thus, no one was right and no one was wrong. It was merely a matter of perspective.
You’re probably wondering where this is going. I mean, hell, I probably am too. But there’s a point here. Essentially, when you’re arguing with people on Twitter and becoming enraged, red in the face and typing so hard that your little iPhone is about to overheat, it’s important to stop, take a step back and put it all in perspective. The idea is that, while you think you’re right and the other person is wrong, and while that person thinks they are right and you are wrong, what you’re both failing to realize is that right and wrong is essentially a relative term. They are words used to describe a stance or opinion. There is no way, absent some sort of heavenly message, messianic visit or moment of deathbed clarity to know what is actually right and what is actually wrong.
So how does this relate to me being an asshole? Up until recently I have always believed that I am not only correct but likely the best authority on whatever subject I am currently ranting about. In my head, how could anyone have my unique life experience combined with my extensive readings of non-fiction? How could anyone, in the entire world, have the ability to discern the truth of the matter better than me? How could you, useless plebian that you are, even come close to commanding my mastery of the classics? Sounds like the rantings of a crazed asshole, right? That’s because it is.
Realizing I was (and in many ways still am) an asshole has been a very liberating experience. The problem with the asshole way of thinking is that you do not grow. You end up insulating yourself from the world at large. You find people that not only subscribe to your way of thinking but also worship you as the master of all topics. While I know that it sounds great, like you might be the leader of some super self-centered cult, it’s not. What it does is stagnate your life. You do not formulate new ideas by being an asshole. You merely become more entrenched in your asshole opinions.
So how do we all not be assholes? This is a great question to which I’m still trying to figure out the answer. Certainly the phenomenon of #MetalBandcampGiftClub has helped. A lot of people attempting to put out positive vibes into the world does tend to overshadow some of the asshole negativity. But, aside from simply doing textbook good deeds (which, feminist activists like Nawaal El Saadawi have argued that charity itself is an incredibly selfish act) we have to open ourselves up to alternative points of view. Now I’m not suggesting we all go hug the Oregon militia people and accept them as our best friends. But I am saying that, within our community, we should all strive to be less cliquey. Maybe talk less shit about other people. Maybe, even go out of our way to make friends and find common ground with those we previously vehemently disagreed with. I don’t know how crazy and far you’re willing to go but you should at least push yourself into previously uncomfortable territory.
The point of life is never to be right. Whether you believe in God, you’re a staunch Atheist, Satanist, Pagan, Wicca, etc. I can’t fathom a situation in which the afterlife ends with a trivia contest of personal stances on important issues. So maybe we try to be less self-assured and more self-confident. Maybe we allow contrary opinions to shape our views rather than isolating ourselves from them. Maybe we deal with each other one-on-one rather than screaming insults into a gaping void of Twitter. Maybe we actually try to enjoy each other for this brief time we have on earth. I may not be right, but at least I’m not an asshole (anymore).
PS – Most of this article was heavily exaggerated to prove a point. If you can’t see that then I guess you’re the real asshole.