Sunday, December 11, 2022

Reward Structure

For about ten years now, we’ve been living in a world, and in a society, that is structured to greatly reward people when millions and millions of people say “Jesus Fucking Christ, what an insufferable, evil, and wrong complete asshole you are.”

It’s not just that a substantial audience for insufferable, evil, wrong assholes, although that’s a significant part of it. And it’s not even that the systems in place to officially declare that someone is an insufferable, evil, wrong asshole have deteriorated to the point that they’re worthless, although that’s a significant part of it too.

But the biggest part of it is that a variety of socioeconomic factors have led to the decision, at an institutional level, that there really is no such thing as bad press.

“There’s no such thing as bad press” was a saying, not a fact. Hitler got a lot of bad press, at least until recently. To pick a more recent example, Jared from Subway got a ton of press and it didn’t work out well for him. 

But with the current crop of insufferable, evil, and wrong complete assholes, whether it’s a Sinema, a Rowling, a Chapelle, a Musk, or of course a Trump, the socioeconomic benefits of being awful now so far outweigh the personal cost that the only reasons NOT to do it are ethical and moral ones. Which creates a perfect environment for sociopaths to thrive.

Remember when “doubling down” was supposed to carry an element of risk? The blackjack term was brought over to the political side of the discourse BECAUSE it was a gamble. Not backing down from your awfulness used to be a risk because there was a chance that society and institutions would turn against you and reject you. 

But not anymore. Doubling down pays out 99.9A% of the time, and we’ll see how it works out for Kanye. Who wouldn’t take those odds? 

I don’t have an answer. If you ignore it, you let it grow and fester and turn into action. And if you pay attention to it, you reward it with importance and attention in an economy that’s almost exclusively attention-based. It all ends badly.

1 comment:

  1. There is a third option: band together, and start matching--or even surpassing--all that ugliness with united efforts to make the world a better place. Of course, that is no small undertaking.


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