Human beings are story telling creatures. We’re reared on milk and stories. The narratives of our youth become who we are and what we believe.
And herein lies a sort of developmental issue for men. One that will be discussed here. Because humans don’t tell their sons stories about the world. We tell them stories about the way we want the world to be.
So, for all their profundity and magic, stories give us an unrealistic sense of the natural buoyancy of a good man’s life. As we grow into boyhood, the tales we imbibe teach us that the rise of a fine man is inevitable, or that the intrinsic virtue of a man on the correct team will automatically lend him the support of all fellow members of that team. We inculcate the flower of our male youth with the myth that being good comes with a reward. That he, just like any little girl, is valuable for who he is on in the inside. We are taught that we carry intrinsic value within us.
But we grow up into men. Maybe it is the day we get our draft cards in the mail and the women don’t, or we wake up to a news headline reading “500 killed, including three women” in an international newspaper. However it happens, a man who pays attention will one day realize that the world doesn’t really give a shit about him, and absolutely not (as he’s been taught) in direct proportion to how “good” he is, or “what’s on the inside” of him.
Quickly after there comes a point then where an enlightened man must stare into a fact of life that has been kept from him (if he was sheltered): that life for him is adversarial in nature, and he must take an adversarial stance within it in order to succeed as a creature.
He awakens one morning and the world quietly closes its gate to him, whispering in his ear “you are only worth what you can earn— what you can build, create, discover, or kill. You are our tool and our weapon, expendable for the greater good. Come, find your place as a simple cog in the machine.”
In short, the world wants him to fail by default. It wants his life to be unremarkable. To be spent supporting others. To be drowned in sweet, romantic thinking while he polishes ball bearings. To be the base, the lowest rung of the grand pyramid scheme that is society.
And make no mistake, there are multiple machinations that will almost certainly benefit from your failure: everything from genetics, to capitalism, to divorce court, to warfare – they are all built on the supposition that millions and millions of men need to fail in order for a few privileged people at the top to succeed – that you have to “crack a few eggs to make an omelette.” And you, young man, look like a perfect, freshly laid egg…quite ready for the frying pan. Collect your rifle and your bible to the right…
No, it isn’t a grand conspiracy— these mysterious mechanisms that sow salt over every seed you plant—it is nothing other than the finite nature of reality which is responsible. It is our animal nature: the same thing that sees one alpha at the top of a troop of monkeys while thin, scraggly young males poke at the outskirts, starving and desperate. In a limited world, there are only limited spots for success. If everyone is alpha then no one is. Without all the failures, the successes could never happen.
How many men cast out on a dinky raft, only to end up in the guts of some bull shark, before the first man landed on the coast of Hawaii?
How many men died in horrible ways to release the budding United States from colonial rule? Torn to pieces by cannon balls or impaled on bayonettes? Holding their guts in their 18 year old hands because some recruitment officer filled their heads with abstract concepts like “freedom”.
How many men are living lives of quiet desperation RIGHT THIS MINUTE, grinding out livings for a world too concerned with minor female inconveniences to ever acknowledge their sacrifice?
Our whole economic system is built on this principle. We need men to spend their lives delivering our dry-cleaning, frying our hash browns, serving us coffee. We want those people to keep their dreams small because we need them there, propping us up. So, we give them religion, we give them television, we give them junk food, alcohol….we give them the bullshit concept of “true love”.
Because relationships and sex work precisely the same way. Women use supplicating, inferior men to bolster their self-esteem, and then cherry pick the strongest, most virile mate from the pile of genetic spam. They don’t care about you. They don’t give a fuck “what is inside”, or how “nice” you are, or what a good person your mother thinks you are. No one does, and the expectation that life is otherwise is extremely childish.
Not only do they not care, but those in society who can’t or won’t fend for themselves have a vested interest in you not even understanding the adversarial nature of being alive. Remember those stories we tell our young sons? You better believe that the girl who rejected you in high school for “not being tall enough” while getting railed by the whole football team now teaches her male children stories of true love, romance, and “what’s on the inside that counts”. Weaker people will always attempt to use emotional manipulation to supplant you where their own merit fails. They will shame you for being adversarial in nature while they themselves seek to use your surrendered corpse to climb higher. Affirmative action, the concept of “male privilege”, gender quotas, the false wage gap – these are all emotional manipulations created on large scale, en mass, by weaker, merit lacking individuals in an attempt to climb over the people who are succeeding by weaponizing guilt, lies, and an appeal to an manufactured sense of fairness that they don’t intend to impart themselves once they have pulled you under them.
Tinfoil hat talk? Who knows how deep the rabbit hole really goes, but listen: Anything you do in life will have a conspiracy of agents and factors working against you.
The appropriate response to this is not sadness or depression. Not at all. The appropriate response to this knowledge is an aggressive cultivation of an extreme sense of individualism, self-reliance, and grit.
The good news:
All of this is not to say that true human altruism doesn’t exist. We are tribal, after all. Common goals can unite us, shared loves or hatred, unified passions and philosophies.
Now that you’ve adopted this cynicism, you’ll be prepared to understand what a big deal it is when you are actually gifted with that rare milk of human kindness. Because it does exist as the exception to the rule.
Remember that this, and other reality checks, don’t need to be dark and oppressive. On the contrary, they are meant to free you up from the emotional expectation of fairness, to keep you from cursing the world, from falling deep into apathy, misanthropy, and bitterness as a result of the behavior of mankind. The point is to help you see yourself as an agent acting on the world, understanding the lopsided rules and figuring out how to win, rather than being a passive, deluded recipient of the world’s inevitable slings and arrows.
When a snake bites us, we don’t question ourselves and our value. We don’t berate the snake and spend nights talking about the nerve of the snake and fall into a depression over the nature of snakes. Because in that situation, we went into it with the knowledge of what a snake is and just how it operates. We appreciate our luck when we encounter snakes that don’t bite us, but we learn to expect that many snakes will bite and should be dealt with accordingly.
Reality is liberating. The world, in one sweeping generalization, wants you to fail. Be prepared to understand that life, for men, is a struggle to find meaning against a backdrop that wants to inject cheap, artificial value into your life so that you will continue to pull the plow. Realize it, adapt to it, and be prepared to storm the battlements and to fight tooth and nail for all you get.
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One thought on “The World Wants you to Fail”
Thanks a LOT for this masterpiece, especially for the snake analogy. It really helps for a guy in his 20s, who lost his father, uncle, and grandma (only 3 people who insisted in inculcating male values) ~5 years ago, and now living in different continent.